Direct tool steel injection mould inserts through the Arcam EBM free‐form fabrication process

Gregory J. Gibbons (University of Warwick, Warwick, West Midlands, UK)
Robert G. Hansell (University of Warwick, Warwick, West Midlands, UK)

Assembly Automation

ISSN: 0144-5154

Publication date: 1 December 2005



The aim of this study is to demonstrate the benefit of design flexibility afforded by the Arcam free‐form fabrication process in the direct manufacture of injection mould inserts with complex cooling channel configurations and the process efficiency and quality gains achieved through using such inserts.


The manufacturing process of a flood cooled injection mould insert using the Arcam EBM S12 layered manufacturing process is presented. The insert is then evaluated against two other inserts (one un‐cooled and one traditionally baffle cooled (BC)) in the manufacture of test components, with the temperature of the insert and components recorded. The process conditions were adjusted (reduced cooling time) to increase the core and component temperatures to identify the operational limits of the inserts. Thermal imaging was employed to visualize the thermal distribution within the BC and flood cooled (FC) inserts.


The cooling efficiency of the FC insert was found to be significantly higher than that of the other two inserts, and the homogeneity of the heat distribution of the FC insert was more even than the BC insert. It was possible to manufacture non‐deformed components using the FC insert with zero cooling time (ejection immediately after removal of holding pressure), this was not possible with the BC insert.

Research limitations/implications

Provides a basis for the development of more efficient and thermally homogeneous inserts through the Arcam EBM process.

Practical implications

Provides a technology/process for the manufacture of highly efficient core inserts for injection moulding, offering the industry a competitive advantage through the potential for time and cost savings and higher quality components.


This is the first direct comparison of an Arcam EBM manufactured insert with complex cooling geometries against traditionally cooled inserts, particularly novel is the thermal imaging analysis of the cooling efficiency and distribution.



Gibbons, G. and Hansell, R. (2005), "Direct tool steel injection mould inserts through the Arcam EBM free‐form fabrication process", Assembly Automation, Vol. 25 No. 4, pp. 300-305.

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Copyright © 2005, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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