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SubSurface: Revolutionising Cold Plate Manufacturing

Thu, 04 August, 2022

TWI has joined UK-based Hybrid Manufacturing Technologies (HMT) and PSL Assemblies (PSL) in project ‘SubSurface’ to revolutionise cold plate design and manufacturing.

The existing methods for manufacturing cold plates are not only costly, slow and complex, but also often lead to poor yields as a result of quality issues.

CoreFlow™, a TWI patented solution derived from friction stir welding, allows for the embedding of cooling channels within metallic materials in a single step. This offers promising advantages over conventional assembly methods.

CoreFlow™ plate demonstrator
CoreFlow™ plate demonstrator

Although early work has already demonstrated the potential of the process, CoreFlow™ has been deployed on a specialist R&D friction stir welding equipment that is not representative of the platforms typically found in this industry. Furthermore, it is not always optimal for post processing steps like finish machining or inspection. To enable efficient cold plate manufacture in a single setup, TWI teamed up with HMT to produce a solution that is usable in mainstream CNC machines. The solution targets adoption at a fraction of the current cost (~5x capital investment reduction) by leveraging the wide availability of CNC milling machines. The solution will be applied by PSL on current products, enabling a realistic assessment of performance and cost.

The Innovate UK-funded SubSurface project will develop, and subsequently offer, a new process head to enable CoreFlow™ on any CNC system via retrofit integration. In addition to the ability to alternate between milling and CoreFlow™, the hybrid CNC could also feature built-in quality assurance functions like ultrasonic inspection.

Dr Joao Gandra, the inventor and lead developer of the CoreFlowTM technology, said:

"We are very conscious that inventing new technologies is merely the start of the journey. Ultimately, technologies and products will only be sucessful if there is a clear and competitive pathway for adoption. We have dedicated the past 5 years to developing CoreFlow to meet product requirements. Now is the time to introduce off-the-shelf equipment and tools so the process can truly blossom and live up to its expectations."


The SubSurface project has received funding from Innovate UK under grant No 10023786.

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