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- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D Printing is good if you’re looking for a low cost per part solution
- It combines high productivity and established materials to create a type of 3D printing technology that’s great for rapid prototyping to small-batch, bridge, and even custom manufacturing applications
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) refers to an additive manufacturing technique that uses a laser power source to sinter or bind finely powdered particles together to create solid structures based upon a 3D model.
This process involved a printer laying down even layers of powder and then precisely sintering that powder until each part was complete.
A laser-guided by a digitally produced file is then aimed at the powder bed at specific points, thus creating the required shape of the object to be made.
Typically this is an old technology that has been effectively applied over the years by manufacturers and engineers to produce low volumes of parts and for rapid prototyping.
It has also been advanced in recent years by using new efficient machinery, software, and materials to make it ideal for a range of applications such as custom manufacturing, bridge, and small-batch to rapid prototyping.
The parts produced with this printing are also known to have excellent mechanical characteristics and strength that resemble injection molded parts.
Step 1. Printing
A thin layer of powder is dispersed inside the buildup chamber, which is then preheated by the printer to a temperature close to the melting point of the raw material used, thus making it simple for the laser to raise the temperature of specific regions of the powdered bed hence tracing the model to solidify apart.
The lesser then scans a cross-section of the 3D model and then heats the material at almost the melting point, fusing the particles to create a solid part.
The unfused powder eliminates dedicated support structures by supporting the part during printing. The build chamber then lowers the heat to between 50 to 200microns, and the process repeats itself until all the details are complete.
Step 2. Cooling
The build chamber is cooled slightly insight the print enclosure followed by outside the printer, thus ensuring optimal mechanical properties and avoiding warping the material parts.
Step 3. Post-processing
The finished parts are removed from the buildup chamber, separated, and then cleaned off the excess powder, recycled.
Typically all selective laser sintering 3D printers are built using a similar process. The differences between different types are based on the type of laser they use, the sizes of their build volume, and the complexity of the printer’s system.
They also use diverse solutions for controlling their temperature, disposing of layers, and powder dispensing.
Considering all of the above characteristics of SLS printers, the best type today is the Traditional Industrial SLS 3D printer.
Advantages of SLS printing
1. Printing parts using this technology saves money by reducing the need for bandwidth, molds, and the creation of high fidelity parts.
2. Its time consuming as parts are quickly printed, thus allowing for quick iterations.
3. As opposed to the other layered 3D printing objects, the SLS parts are isotropic. Therefore the strength produced in each direction is equal.
Disadvantages of the SLS printing
1. This method of printing has high barriers to entry.
2. The cost of purchasing and maintaining the machines used is very high.
3. They only require skilled operators to run the system.
This printer can only produce plastic-strength parts.
The Types Of 3D Printing
- Stereolithography (SLA)
- Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): (check out the best SLS 3D printers)
- Digital Light Processing (DLP)
- PolyJet 3D printing
- Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)
- Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
- Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)
- Binder Jetting (BJ) Technology
- Drop on Demand (DOD)
- Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)
1. What’s the difference between SLM and SLS?
The SLM fuses powdered materials by heating them to their melting points, and on the other hand, SLS uses atomically combines powdered materials using a high-powered laser.
2. What kind of materials can be sintered with Lasers?
The sintering process can be applied to plastics, glass, ceramic, and concrete materials.
3. What’s the difference between sintering and Annealing?
Sintering refers to a technique used in heating powdered substances at a temperature below the melting point until the particles of the material join through atomic fusion to create a solid mass.
In contrast, Annealing refers to a post-process in which a solid piece of metal is heated up to a temperature just below the melting point and then allowed to cool down, thus gently changing the material’s flexibility and model.