Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is an additive manufacturing technology capable of building complex polymer parts with high accuracy. It's a popular 3D printing process for rapid prototyping and end-use parts.
The main advantages of this technology are that it doesn't require additional tooling, is not susceptible to tooling wear, and is cost-effective. Another upside is that the unused powder material is recyclable for future production.
How SLS works
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a powder-based technology, like Laser Powder Bed Fusion (L-PBF). However, instead of metal, plastic materials build the basis to create parts. SLS uses a powder bed to create highly accurate parts layer by layer based on a 3D model.
During the process, the powder is heated just below its melting temperature. The laser's thermal energy delivers the residual energy to melt the part.
SLS use cases
SLS is a popular additive manufacturing technology for producing plastic parts on the MakerVerse platform – particularly for rapid prototypes and end-use applications.
SLS is the go-to technology when the printed parts require good mechanical properties or must be produced very efficiently (common applications include jigs & fixtures, replacement parts, and more).
SLS by the numbers
Max Build Size: Ranging from 340 X 340 X 600 mm to 700 X 380 X 580 mm (material dependent)
Minimum Wall Thickness: 0.8 mm (material/geometry dependent)
Dimensional Accuracy: +/- 0.3% with a minimum of 0.3 mm
Lead Times: Starting at 7 days
Standard Color: White
Key feature: Diverse materials
SLS materials are suited for a wide range of use cases. Aluminum and glass-filled PA 12 offers high levels of strength. Other materials are biocompatible and suited for medical use.
SLS is also capable of printing flame-retardant parts. Parts made with these materials meet the high certification standards for specific industries, such as aerospace, rail, and electronics.
Source industrial-grade SLS parts
MakerVerse gives you the flexibility to source parts however you need. Get instant quotes and quickly order parts with on-demand manufacturing. Our team of experts will work with you for large or complex orders to develop, align, and supervise a manufacturing quality plan from start to finish.
Available SLS finishes
An abrasive medium is applied to the component under high pressure. By using different media (e.g., corundum, sand, or glass beads), both functional (achieving a specific surface roughness) and optical (polishing the surface) finishing can be performed.
The plastic component is immersed in a water bath. The resulting chemical reaction causes the dye to penetrate the part. Characteristics of this are, on the one hand, a homogeneous color gradient and, on the other hand, an unchanging but more scratch-resistant surface.
Additional color is applied to the printed part, often by a professional spray painting system. Accurate cleaning and a clear coat are applied beforehand to ensure the highest levels of quality.
The sealing process uses an aqueous solution to close the outer surface or skin of the part and fill in tiny pores. The sealing solution is manually applied or dipped depending on the part's geometry.
Parts are reworked by grinding media in a container, deburred, finely ground, and polished by vibration or rotation of the container.
In the smoothing process, the plastic component is reworked by a chemical reaction. The top layer of the component is dissolved by a medium in a solution bath and the result is a very smooth surface.
Available SLS materials
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PA 11 is a bio-based polymer and provides excellent mechanical properties. Its high ductility and impact strength make it interesting for functional parts in various industries such as automotive. PA 11 parts can also be dyed and are biocompatible, which is why it is used increasingly in the orthotics sector for small series and individualized parts.
Typical applications for PA 11 include interior parts for automotive, prosthetics and orthotics, and functional prototypes.
Lead time: 7 days
PA 12 is a polyamide (PA) and and a standard Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) material. This material combines high strength with long-term stability. Further advantages of PA 12 lie in its chemical resistance and biocompatibility. Therefore, the medical industry often uses this material for a range of applications.
PA 12 is usually used for fully functional prototypes and end-use parts. One specific application area is in the orthopedic sector due to PA 12's biocompatibility.
Lead time: 7 days
PA 12 GF is a polyamidefilled with glass beads. This filling makes the material ideal for long-term usability. This plastic can withstand high thermal loads and combines high density and tensile strength.
PA 12 GF is often used for fully functional prototypes. Furthermore, it is often used for end-use parts e.g., in the automotive industry where it can be placed near high temperature environments.
Lead time: 9 days
PA 12 Al-filled is a polyamide filled with aluminum (Al). The aluminum filling results in a metallic-looking appearance. One of the significant advantages of PA 12 Al-filled is its excellent dimensional stability at high temperatures combined with the light weight of plastic. In addition, surfaces can be finished by grinding, polishing, or coating, resulting in even more possibilities to individualize each part regarding the specific use case.
Popular applications for PA 12 Al-filled include fully functional prototypes and jigs and fixtures. Another common use case is components that must operate under high temperatures and great stress.
Lead time: 9 days
PA 12 FR is a polyamide with a special chemical flame retardant. This makes the material particularly suitable for industries requiring such flame retardancy from a safety or regulatory perspective. Additionally, it offers a high tensile strength.
PA 12 FR is approved for certain aerospace applications, making it popular for interior components in aircraft. It is also used in passive parts for electronic components.
Lead time: 9 days
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Resources: Polymer 3D printing
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