SLS 3D Printing is one of 3D printing technologies, which is used to creat prototpyes and end-use parts. It wa ssuccessfully developed in 1989 by a graduated student at the University of Texas. just like SLA 3D printing, it is aslo widely used in manufacturing industries. In this blog, we will share a ultimate Guide about SLS 3D printing.

What is SLS 3D printing?

SLS means Selective Laser Sintering, SLS 3D printing use high power lasers to fuse particles of a polymer powder into a final part. SLS 3D printing can be used for making prototypes and low volume production runs because it make parts with consistent mechanical properties.

how does SLS 3D Printing work?

In SLS 3D Printing, the laser selectively sinter the powder material by scanning the cross section of the powder bed surface. After scanning each cross section, the powers on this layer will be fused to join together. Then the powder bed is lowered and a new layer of material is added on top, repeat the selective laser sintering process until the part is complete.

SLS 3D Printing Process Workflow:

  1. First, use CAD software to design the three-dimensional CAD model of the part;
  2. Save the model in STL format, import it into the computer’s slicing software for slicing and layering processing, generate a laser scanning sintering path, and use the control module to control the movement of the printer’s optical path scanning system.
  3. When the preheating temperature reaches the specified value, the laser scans the powder spread on the working cylinder.
  4. After completing a layer of cross-sectional information, the working cylinder drops by one layer thickness, the powder spreading device moves and spreads a layer thickness on the sintering plane, and the computer-controlled scanning system performs sintering again.
  5. Each layer of sintered sections is sintered and solidified with the last sintered section. After layer by layer accumulation, the entire model is finally printed.

SLS 3D Printing Materials

Polymer Materials

Polymer powders are currently the most widely used materials in SLS 3D printing such as ABS, nylon, wax and more. Nylon is commonly used among these Polymer Materials due to its high strength, good wear resistance and easy processing.

Metal Powders

There are three main types of metal powders used for SLS 3D printing: single metal powder, metal mixed powder and metal powder plus organic powder.

  • Sintering of single metal powders, such as iron powder.
  • mixed metal powders, such as bronze powder and nickel powder.
  • Metal powder plus organic powder such as copper material and organic glass powder.

Ceramic Powders

Compared with metal powder materials, ceramic powder have higher hardness and higher working temperature and can be used to replicate high-temperature molds.

SLS 3D Printers

There are mainly two types of SLS printers, industry type and desktop type. The industry printer is very expensive, and desktop printer cost is low. Desktop printer is good for academic research, rapid prototype and low-volume production.

SLS printer is mainly composed of mechanical system, optical system and computer control system. The mechanical system and optical system work in coordination under the control of the computer control system to automatically complete the processing and shaping of the parts.

Applications of SLS 3D Printing

Rapid Prototyping

The SLS process can quickly manufacture prototypes, shortening the time from design to finished product, allowing customers to see the prototype of the final product more quickly.

Research and development of new materials

Some new powder particles can be developed using the SLS process, these new materials can be used to enhance the strength of printed parts.

low volume manufacturing

The cost of low volume manufacturing with traditional methods is high, SLS 3D printing can quickly and effectively lower the cost for your project.

Rapid Tooling manufacturing

SLS 3D Printing with Metal powders can make rapid tooling for your injection molding products. this will lower much your cost of rapid tooling and hard tooling.

Reverse engineering

SLS 3D printing can be used for reverse engineering. With 3D scanning technology, 3D data can be created base on final parts. Then, SLS 3D printing can create prototypes with the 3D data.

Application in medical

Since parts manufactured by the SLS 3D printing have a certain porosity, they can be used to manufacture artificial bones. Clinical studies have proven that this artificial bone has good biocompatibility.

Tips in Design for SLS 3D Printing

Because SLS 3D printing requires no support material, parts with hollow area inside can be printed easily and accurately.

The hollow portion reduces the weight and cost of the part because less material is used. If greater stiffness is required, an internal honeycomb grid structure can be added to the interior of the hollow to further increase the stiffness of the component.

Get started with KUSLA SLS 3D printing service  

KUSLA is an ISO-certified rapid prototyping company with engineers who specialize in SLS 3D printing. we can provide fast to low cost prototpyes with our SLS 3D printing service. contact us today to get an instant quotation.

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