Selective Laser Sintering

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) was developed at the University of Texas in Austin, by Carl Deckard and colleagues. The technology was patented in 1989 and was originally sold by DTM Corporation. DTM was acquired by 3D Systems in 2001. The basic concept of SLS is similar to that of SLA. It uses a moving laser beam to trace and selectively sinter powdered polymer and/or metal composite materials into successive cross-sections of a three-dimensional part. As in all rapid prototyping processes, the parts are built upon a platform that adjusts in height equal to the thickness of the layer being built. Additional powder is deposited on top of each solidified layer and sintered. This powder is rolled onto the platform from a bin before building the layer. The powder is maintained at an elevated temperature so that it fuses easily upon exposure to the laser. Unlike SLA, special support structures are not required because the excess powder in each layer acts as a support to the part being built. With the metal composite material, the SLS process solidifies a polymer binder material around steel powder (100 micron diameter) one slice at a time, forming the part. The part is then placed in a furnace, at temperatures in excess of 900 °C, where the polymer binder is burned off and the part is infiltrated with bronze to improve its density. The burn-off and infiltration procedures typically take about one day, after which secondary machining and finishing is performed. Recent improvements in accuracy and resolution, and reduction in stair-stepping, have minimized the need for secondary machining and finishing. SLS allows for a wide range of materials, including nylon, glass-filled nylon, SOMOS (rubber-like), Truform (investment casting), and the previously discussed metal composite.

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)


Abbreviation: SLS
Material type: Powder (Polymer)
Materials: Thermoplastics such as Nylon, Polyamide, and Polystyrene; Elastomers; Composites
Max part size: 22.00 x 22.00 x 30.00 in.
Min feature size: 0.005 in.
Min layer thickness: 0.0040 in.
Tolerance: 0.0100 in.
Surface finish: Average
Build speed: Fast
Applications: Form/fit testing, Functional testing, Rapid tooling patterns, Less detailed parts, Parts with snap-fits & living hinges, High heat applications

Disclaimer: All process specifications reflect the approximate range of a process's capabilities and should be viewed only as a guide. Actual capabilities are dependent upon the manufacturer, equipment, material, and part requirements.

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