Abstract Direct metal laser sintering (DMLS) process enables the production of tools with very fine details in one single step. It can be used also as the most appropriate method for production of moulds for short run series production. However, the use of DMLS tools for larger series production is limited, as sintered steel is relatively soft, rough and porous. In this paper, the development was done to improve the surface finishing as well as wear resistance of DMLS tools by use of duplex electroless nickel–phosphorus (ENiP) / PVD hard coating system. The results of microstructural and mechanical characterization of the laser sintered inserts coated with ENiP/CrN are presented.