A new hybrid process combining machining and selective laser melting to manufacture an advanced concept of conformal cooling channels for plastic injection molds


Firstly, this work investigates a new design of a conformal cooling channel for injection molding tools containing serial and parallel circuits. Secondly, a hybrid-manufacturing process, combining machining and metal powder additive manufacturing, was also evaluated to manufacture molds. Specimens were manufactured by selective laser melting (SLM) using stainless steel (Corrax®) powder, which was deposited on a pre-machined PH13-8Mo stainless steel substrate. The melting zone interface (MZI) between the two materials were assessed. The results showed that the laser-melted and machined surfaces were successfully melted and bonded. Thus, an injection mold was designed and manufactured. A pair of inserts containing the conformal cooling channels were manufactured by the hybrid process and another equivalent pair of inserts containing a conventional cooling system were produced only by machining. Injection molding was carried out alternating the two types of inserts. The results showed that the mold with the conformal cooling channels reduced the warpage of the injected plastic parts by a factor of ~7. The difference in temperature along the insert was reduced by a factor of ~10 and the molding cycle time was around 36% shorter compared with that of the conventional mold. Overall, the proposed hybrid manufacture of the inserts reduced the manufacturing costs and time by 53% and 60%, respectively. The results indicate the benefits of using the proposed conformal cooling design and the hybrid-manufacturing approach, which combines machining with additive manufacturing for injection mold production.

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Availability of data and material (data transparency)

The datasets obtained during the current work are available from the corresponding author upon request.


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Development agencies and institutions: Coordination of Superior Level Staff Improvement (CAPES), National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq). Partners and industries: BMW-Brazil, CFAA, GPCAM, Polimold, Sandvik Coromant, SIGMASOFT, Sokit Ind., Techcontrol, Tecnodrill, Tecnomotriz, Villares Metals, and Vtech.


This project was supported by grants from the Coordination of Superior Level Staff Improvement (CAPES), UFSC Project/CJ/001-2016 and the National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq-315232/2018-8).

Author information




Felipe Marin: manufactured the samples (SLM and machining) and the mold for injection molding of plastic parts. Performed injection molding process to produce the workpieces and analyses. Drafted the manuscript.

Adriano Fagali de Souza: planned and coordinated the research project and its funding. Analysis and discussion about the results of SLM and the entire manufacturing costs and times. Coordinated the laboratory activities. Written the final version.

Carlos Henrique Ahrens: analysis and discussion about the results of SLM and the plastic parts. Collaborated to write the literature review and the final version.

Luis Norberto López de Lacalle: general supervision of the work. Analysis and discussion about the results about SLM. Contributed with the structuring of the paper and final revision.

Corresponding author

Correspondence to Adriano Fagali de Souza.

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The authors declare that the paper is original and has been written based on the authors’ own finding. All the figures and tables are original, and every expression from other published works was acknowledged and referenced. It is confirmed that all the authors are aware and satisfied of the authorship order and correspondence of the paper.

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Marin, F., de Souza, A.F., Ahrens, C.H. et al. A new hybrid process combining machining and selective laser melting to manufacture an advanced concept of conformal cooling channels for plastic injection molds. Int J Adv Manuf Technol (2021). https://doi.org/10.1007/s00170-021-06720-4

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  • Hybrid manufacturing
  • Additive manufacture
  • Selective laser melting
  • Conformal cooling
  • Injection molding