3D PRINTING PROCESS
Selective laser sintering is ideally suited for the production of functional prototypes, high-quality functional parts and small batches made of plastic.
Laser sintering is ideal for rapid prototyping. It is very often used to check the fit of injection molded parts before the tool is manufactured.
The well-balanced mechanical properties of our materials allow us to produce durable and robust parts for many applications. The white SLS parts are ideal for subsequent finishing.
SLS is perfect for small parts that are required in low to medium quantities (1 - 10,000 pieces). The use of industrial 3D printers guarantees high throughput with short delivery times.
PA12 is a technical thermoplastic that is most commonly used in SLS 3D printers. It offers the best price-performance (properties) ratio.
With this thermoplastic elastomer with a Shore hardness of 90A, flexible parts can be manufactured that have a good feel and high wear resistance.
The selective laser sintering can produce any three-dimensional parts in a very good quality. Numerous finishing methods can be used for these parts. The following overview shows numerous options that are available to our customers.
Most of the time, our classic finish is used. A black color with subsequent compression blasting. The result is a smooth surface that is suitable for salable products.
Depending on the material, the parts usually come in a white color from the 3D printer. The surface is slightly rough. Due to this nature, untreated parts easily absorb dirt and, in contact with the skin, also sebum. Without finish, we recommend untreated parts especially for prototypes and functional parts that are not exposed to excessive skin contact.
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The technology is already over 40 years old.Dr. Joe Beaman and Dr. Carl Deckard of the University of Texas developed the basic principles of laser sintering back in the 1980s. In addition to the SLS 3D printing process, additive manufacturing offers two other very similar technologies. However, these are much younger. We see the HP Multi Jet Fusion process as the most important alternative. You can read about the exact differences to laser sintering here .
The SLS technology works with a fine plastic powder that serves as the starting material. This plastic powder is mostly nylon. It is applied at the beginning of the printing process with a squeegee in a thin layer (80-150 µm) on the construction platform. This platform can be lowered in small steps in a so-called building cylinder.
The 3D data for printing must also be broken down into thin layers at the beginning. This digital preparation is carried out by so-called slicing software. Then the prepared data is loaded onto the SLS machine and printing can begin.
As the name suggests, laser sintering uses a laser beam to fuse the fine powder. The powder layers prepared by the squeegee are now exposed with the prepared data. Each thin data layer is projected onto the respective powder layer by the laser. In the video shown above, the process described can be seen very clearly. As soon as a layer is completed, the building platform in the cylinder is lowered by the respective layer thickness.
The build space of an SLS 3D printer is heated during the entire printing process. This thermal energy has to escape again after printing. The construction job first cools down in the system itself to a moderate temperature for a few hours. The installation space is then removed from the system and has to cool down further at room temperature. This process must be carried out as gently (slowly) as possible, otherwise the SLS components can become warped.