As the flexibility and reliability of additive manufacturing (AM) and its corresponding design tools increases, it is becoming a viable option for more industries. One application area that could benefit from AM is composite component manufacture. The layup and molding of composite materials face significant challenges presented by tight design timescales, growing demand for productivity, and the complexity of components and end products. Therefore, there is an immediate potential to save energy by reducing the mass of the curing equipment and tooling to enhance process heat transmission. The goal of this paper is to demonstrate the reduction of embodied energy within mold tools that are printed using an AM process. Using an AM approach, it is possible to design lightweight curing tools to increase the curing rate and quality of heat distribution in the mold. The viability of additively producing these cure tools was assessed by analyzing the geometrical precision of the composite mold outputs, material utilization, and heat transmission qualities of each sample. In this study, 14 cure tools were designed and manufactured with a 100 mm2 curing surface area, top plate thickness of 1–2 mm, and stiffening lattices behind the curing surface with a depth of 10 mm. Four lattice geometries, gyroid, dual-wall gyroid, planar diamond, and stochastic, were tested based on their overall geometrical accuracy and thermal responsiveness. While the stochastic lattice had the best single tool properties, the planar diamond and gyroid lattice tools had better potential for future use in the design of additively manufactured composite tooling.

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