Additively manufactured metal tooling for cure optimisation in composite manufacturing

Arjun Radhakrishnan*, Vincent Karel Maes, Max Valentine, Maria D R Valero, Elise Pegg, Vimal Dhokia, James Kratz

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference Contribution (Conference Proceeding)

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The selection of tooling for composite manufacturing is a critical step in ensuring the quality of the resultant composite parts. The energy consumed during part manufacturing is not only used to evolve the composite properties but a substantial proportion of it is used to heat the tooling as well. Additive manufacturing (AM) offers a viable solution to reducing the tooling mass by generating complex tool architectures that can withstand the manufacturing process while offering reduced mass and additional functionalities such as cooling channels and sensor integration. A series of 16 lattice steel tools were additively manufactured and used to cure flat composite specimens. The thermal profile of the composite curing was monitored to characterise the thermal responsiveness of the tools. The curing of composites on equivalent monolithic tools of constant thickness ranging from 1- 10 mm was numerically simulated using a cure-coupled heat transfer model. The results indicate that AM tools with lattice architectures can achieve heating rates higher than 83% of the set rate while keeping the exothermic overshoot temperature below 30% of the setpoint, which its monolithic counterparts couldn’t achieve. Hence lattice structures enabled by AM can push the design space into regions previously unavailable to tooling design.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 20th European Conference on Composite Materials: Composites Meet Sustainability (Vol 1-6)
EditorsAnastasios Vassilopoulos, Véronique Michaud
PublisherComposite Construction Laboratory (CCLab), Ecole Polytechnique Federale de Lausanne (EPFL)
Number of pages8
ISBN (Electronic)978-2-9701614-0-0
Publication statusPublished - 30 Jun 2022
EventThe 20th European Conference on Composite Materials (ECCM20) - Lausanne, Switzerland
Duration: 26 Jun 202230 Jun 2022
Conference number: 20


ConferenceThe 20th European Conference on Composite Materials (ECCM20)
Abbreviated titleECCM20
Internet address

Bibliographical note

The work was supported by the EPSRC Future Composites Manufacturing Hub (EP/P006701/1) project titled Additively Manufactured Cure Tooling.

Structured keywords

  • Bristol Composites Institute ACCIS
  • Lattice structures
  • AM Tooling
  • Thermal Light Weighting
  • Tooling
  • Additive Manufacturing
  • Cure Optimisation
  • Cure-kinetics
  • Curing


  • Lattice structures
  • AM Tooling
  • Thermal Light Weighting

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