Perfect for functional testing, rapid prototyping, high-heat applications and chemically-resistant parts.
With Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) printers from 3D Systems, you can conduct rapid prototyping and create high-resolution nylon parts up to seven times faster than with competing SLS 3D printers. You can also trust our line of SLS printers to reduce production costs, streamline the testing process and cut material waste.
What is Selective Laser Sintering?
SLS technology uses a laser to harden and bond small grains of nylon and elastomer materials into layers in a 3D dimensional structure. The laser traces the pattern of each cross section of the 3D design onto a bed of powder. After one layer is built, the bed lowers and another layer is built on top of the existing layers. The bed then continues to lower until every layer is built and the part is complete.
What are the benefits of SLS printing?
No need for supports
One of the major benefits of SLS is that it doesn't require the support structures that many other 3D printing technologies use to prevent the design from collapsing during production. Since the product lies in a bed of powder, no supports are necessary saving cost in materials and allowing faster 3D part production.
Build complex 3D parts faster and more affordably
SLS 3D printing enables the creation of consolidated parts that would have required assembly processes using traditional manufacturing, thus saving time and money in production. With SLS, users can create geometries that no other technology can including living hinges and moving parts—all while conserving materials and saving time on assembly.
Reduce the risk of part damage
In addition, the SLS process eliminates the risk of part damage as the supports are removed, meaning we can build complex interior components and complete parts. As with other 3D printing technologies, there’s no need to account for tool clearance or draft angles.
Enjoy major time and cost benefits
Considering its robustness and capability to produce complex whole 3D parts, the SLS printing process can bring major time and cost benefits for small-run parts that would usually require some assembly with traditional manufacturing. It’s a perfect marriage of functionality, strength and complexity. We can produce parts faster and cut down on the time required to put them together.
Create truly robust parts
SLS materials will often stand up better to wear and environmental conditions. Especially for mass customization for certain low-volume end-use parts, SLS blows traditional manufacturing out of the water because there is no expensive and inefficient retooling to worry about.
Easily reproduce parts and press tools
Another big benefit of additive manufacturing with SLS is the ability to store and reproduce parts and dies as 3D CAD data that will never corrode, get lost in transportation or require expensive storage. The designs are always available and ready to be produced when we need them, even if the original is unavailable.
What materials can be used in SLS printers?
SLS printing is accomplished using a range of nylon materials (alongside SLS metal printing technologies). These 3D printing materials are unlike traditional injection molding materials in that they are much more advanced and consist of superfine particles that are < 100 nm in diameter. These unbelievably small particles of 3D printing materials are created through a process called ball milling.
In ball milling, a machine is used to grind and blend materials via high impact. In other words, balls of the desired SLS materials are dropped from the top of the machine’s grinding cylinder so that they hit the bottom with enough force to erode the material down to the desired size. The benefit of this process is that rather than being poured into a mold, ball milled SLS materials can be bonded together.
Once the ball milling process is complete, the materials are ready for use in SLS printers.
Styrene-based materials are great for making castings in plaster, titanium, aluminum and more, and are compatible with most standard foundry processes.
Using SLS nylon and other SLS materials, you can create tough and durable parts for a variety of applications. Whether you’re building the parts as part of the rapid prototyping process, creating templates or engaging in 3D printing for another purpose, 3D Systems has a material type that’s right for your project. Use the chart below to explore the different material options available for use during the Selective Laser Sintering process.
SLS also can create impact-resistant engineering plastic that’s great for low- to mid-volume end-use parts, such as:
- Snap-fit parts
- Automotive moldings
- Thin-walled ducting
Engineering parts can also be made with:
- Flame-retardant material to fit aircraft and consumer product requirements
- Gas-filled material for greater stiffness and heat resistance
- Fiber-reinforced plastic for ultimate stiffness
- Rubberlike material for flexible parts like hoses, gaskets, grip padding and more
What finish options are available with SLS 3D printing?
SLS 3D plastic printing allows you to complete your 3D parts with a variety of finishes. SLS machines from 3D Systems offer the industry’s best finishes, leaving you with high-quality parts that are perfect for rapid prototyping, master patterns, end-use production, machine tools and more. Use the chart below to explore our various additive manufacturing finishes and determine the finishing process that’s best for your project.
Loose powder removed and bead blast
Loose powder removed, bead blast and apply sealant
Loose powder removed, bead blast, apply sealant, sand to remove any unwanted debris starting with 80 grit sandpaper and then 150 grit sandpaper, apply primer, sand using 220 grit sandpaper, apply more primer and then finish with 320 grit sandpaper
Primed finish and painted
Standard uncoated finish with dye
What applications are ideal for using the SLS printing process?
SLS really shines when you need 3D plastic parts that will last. While parts created by other additive manufacturing methods may become brittle over time, SLS 3D printers are capable of producing highly durable parts for real-world 3D prototyping and mold making. And because SLS parts are so robust, they rival those produced in traditional manufacturing methods and are already used in a variety of end-use applications, such as:
- Highly durable production parts for real-world testing and highly complex geometries
- Parts that are durable and can withstand high-heat and chemically rich applications
- Parts with snap fits/living hinges
- Automotive design
- Aerospace parts and ducting
- Medical applications
- Jigs, fixtures and tools
- Flame-retardant parts
- Investment casting patterns
- Gaskets, seals and hoses
- Low-volume production solutions and large build platforms
What industries are using SLS printers?
Whether you’re looking to achieve rapid manufacturing, rapid prototyping or tooling and patterns, the SLS process and our SLS 3D printers are perfect for creating durable plastic parts for a variety of industry applications.
- UAS – Unmanned Air Systems Hardware
- UAV – Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Hardware
- UUV – Unmanned Underground Vehicle Hardware
- UGV – Unmanned Ground Vehicle Hardware
- Electronics, Packaging, Connectors
- Design Evaluation Models (Form, Fit and Function)
- Product Performance and Testing
- Wind Tunnel Test Models
What are the design guidelines for SLS?
Since SLS printing allows you to achieve rapid prototyping, you can simply and affordably verify your designs without wasting a lot of time. We suggest leveraging this benefit as often as you can to maximize the performance of the final part.
Some key guidelines you’ll want to follow as you analyze and optimize your SLS printed parts:
- A minimum wall thickness of 0.040 inches (1.0 mm)
- Ideally, wall thickness should not exceed 0.120 inches (3.0 mm) to minimize the hoop shrinkage of holes in large blocks of material
- A radius fillet of 0.015 inches (0.4 mm) on all interior corners for stress relief
There are no special design guidelines necessary when creating parts with undercuts, interior features and negative draft.
- X/Y planes: +/- .005” for the first inch, plus +/- .005” for every inch thereafter
- Z plane: +/- .010” for the first inch, plus +/- .005” for every inch thereafter