Composite Tooling

At Graphite, we regularly build parts for motorsport vehicles both for wind-tunnel testing applications and functional performance parts. These can be found across Formula 1 cars and other race series vehicles.

Phase 1

Design and 3D Printing

In this initial phase, the tool design is created using CAD software, optimized for additive manufacturing. Graphite AM then uses advanced 3D printing technologies to rapidly produce the tool structure. This allows for complex geometries and internal features that would be difficult or impossible with traditional manufacturing methods.

Phase 2

Surface Finishing and Preparation

Once printed, the tool undergoes precise surface finishing to achieve the required smoothness and dimensional accuracy. This may involve machining, coating, or a combination of techniques. Graphite AM’s expertise ensures the tool surface meets the exact specifications needed for the composite layup process.

Phase 3

Validation and Implementation

The final phase involves testing and validating the tool for its intended use. This includes checking for vacuum integrity, thermal performance, and durability. Once approved, the tool is ready for implementation in the customer’s composite manufacturing process, offering significant time and cost savings compared to traditional tooling methods.


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Functional Prototypes

Building a functional prototype is crucial before mass production. 3D printing enables cost-effective design reviews and tweaks. It offers various materials to mimic end-use products, allowing full functionality testing of parts or complete designs.

3D printing excels in producing customized or limited-run parts and products. This digital manufacturing method eliminates the need for traditional tooling and setup, potentially reducing costs through added complexity or lower part count. We create strong, lightweight parts with high definition and built-in functionality, such as screw threads and sealing grooves, eliminating post-processing. The technology offers design flexibility for bespoke versions across various applications, enabling airtight or resistant parts.

To form complex mandrels for composite tooling, materials such as SR-30 (FDM) and DMX 100 (SLA) are starting to gain traction and, with the right knowledge and experience, these materials can perform wonders. SR-30 is a sacrificial mandrel and DMX is an extraction mandrel with some unique properties.


The cost to build a tool is generally determined by the size of the tool, not its complexity. As an example, an iPhone sized tool would cost around £30, whereas an iPad-sized tool would be £240.

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