Additive manufacturing allows the fabrication parts and tools of high complexity. This capability challenges traditional guidelines in the design of conformal cooling systems in heat exchangers, injection molds, and other parts and tools. Innovative design methods, such as network-based approaches, lattice structures, and structural topology optimization have been used to generate complex and highly efficient cooling systems; however, methods that incorporate coupled thermal and fluid analysis remain scarce. This paper introduces a coupled thermal-fluid topology optimization algorithm for the design of conformal cooling channels. With this method, the channel position problem is replaced to a material distribution problem. The material distribution directly depends on the effect of flow resistance, heat conduction, as well as forced and natural convection. The problem is formulated based on a coupling of Navier-Stokes equations and convection-diffusion equation. The problem is solved by gradient-based optimization after analytical sensitivity derived using the adjoint method. The algorithm leads a two -dimensional conceptual design having optimal heat transfer and balanced flow. The conceptual design is converted to three-dimensional channels and mapped to a morphological surface conformal to the injected part. The method is applied to design an optimal conformal cooling for a real three dimensional injection mold. The feasibility of the final designs is verified through simulations. The final designs can be exported as both three-dimensional graphic and surface mesh CAD format, bringing the manufacture department the convenience to run the tool path for final fitting.

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