fused granular fabrication, hybrid manufacturing, large area additive manufacturing, vacuum infusion, composites, tooling design, wear, durability, surface finish, VARTM


The durability of a hybrid large area additively manufactured fiberglass ABS mold for vacuum infusion of composites was evaluated. The validation was done by designing and fabricating a mold for a custom test artifact and analyzing the surface geometry over the course of multiple infusions until tool failure. After printing and machining, the mold required a sealer to maintain vacuum integrity. The mold was able to produce 10 parts successfully before the sealed tool surface began to tangibly roughen, resulting in increased difficulty of demolding and a rougher surface finish. After the 14th infusion, the part required destructive force to be removed from the mold. The surface geometry remained consistent over the course of the infusions, and no significant trends in tool wear were observed during this time. Profilometry measurements showed a 7x increase in the roughness value SA over the course of the 14 infusions.

Based on these results, it was concluded that an increase in surface adhesion is the principal mode of tool failure over the life of these tools. In addition, it was concluded that the minimum tool life for this combination of mold making methods and materials is 14 parts, as this result was obtained under an extreme case in abrasive part geometry and materials for vacuum infusion processing. Thus, this combination of methods and materials is suitable for prototyping of composite parts or short production runs.

Original Publication Citation

Northrup, N., Weaver, J. M., and George, A. R., 2021, “Vacuum Infusion of Composites: Durability of Hybrid Large Area Additive Tooling for Vacuum Infusion of Composites,” SAMPE Journal, September 2021, p. 52.

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL






Ira A. Fulton College of Engineering


Manufacturing Engineering

University Standing at Time of Publication

Assistant Professor

Included in

Manufacturing Commons