Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

At a Glance

Lifecycle

Lead Time

Materials

Resolution

Functional testing, low to mid volume prototyping (10s - 100s)
3-5 days
0.1 mm

About the Process

Selective Laser Sintering uses high-powered lasers to sinter powdered material, binding it together to create a solid structure. It is often confused with another similar process called Selective Laser Melting (SLM), the difference being that it only sinters the powders together as opposed to achieving a full melt.

Parts are supported by unsintered powder in each layer, which remain spread across the build volume until each layer is fused together. Once complete, the part is removed from the remaining powder and cleaned by hand and using water/air jets.

While parts created using this technology can contain some metal, they are usually plastic composites that present a good strength to weight ratio and can be acquired relatively cheaply. For parts that must be structurally as sound as forged solid metal, DMLS is required. Still, the high level of accuracy, relatively cheap feedstock, and high temperatures achievable with SLS printing make it an incredibly useful technology with a broad range of applications ranging from architectural models to control surfaces of aircraft and surgical tools.

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Materials

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Nylon PA12

A durable polymer material that is strong, with balanced
mechanical properties and fine feature surface resolution.
Durable parts without tooling, excellent heat & chemical
resistance.

Material

PA12

Lead Time

3-5 days

Resolution

0.1 mm

Pricing

Max Temp

150C
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Nylon PA12 Glass Fiber 50%

Glass reinforced Nylon material for performance parts
requiring high stiffness and low abrasive wear.
GF Nylon-12 is often used in applications that require
high strength and stiffness, and functional parts.

Material

PA12 GF 50%

Lead Time

3-5 days

Resolution

0.1 mm

Pricing

Max Temp

160C
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Nylon PA6 Glass Fiber 20%

High tensile and flexural strength, stiffness, excellent
heat deflection temperature, and superior abrasion
and wear resistance.

Material

PA6 GF 20%

Lead Time

3-5 days

Resolution

0.1 mm

Pricing

Max Temp

160C

Choose SLS for:

Choose a different process for:

High-accuracy functional prototypes from a wide range of engineering materials
Low-cost visual prototypes for form and fit (choose FDM or SLA/DLP)
Cost-effective, low-volume production of end-use parts for volumes of 1 to 300 units
Production volumes greater than 500 units (choose Injection molding)
Isotropic parts with complex geometry (no need for support structures)
Parts with tight tolerances and low surface roughness (choose CNC machining or Silicone Molding)

Ideal SLS applications

Our in-house manufacturing experts recommend using SLS for the following use cases.

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Functional prototyping

SLS is ideal for fabricating functional prototypes from durable, chemically resistant engineering thermoplastics.

Requirements

Strength: Medium/High

Appearance: Smooth surface

Quantity: 1-5 parts

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Low-volume production

SLS is cost-competitive to injection molding for low-volume manufacturing of end-use plastics parts for quantities up to 300 units.

Requirements

Strength: Medium/High

Appearance: Injection molding-like

Quantity: 10-300 parts

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High-performance components

SLS can produce optimized parts from advanced polymer composites that can be used as replacements to metal components.

Requirements

Strength: Medium/High

Appearance: Smooth surface

Quantity: 1-50 parts

Surface finishes

Additional post processes can be applied to improve the appearance or mechanical properties of parts produced with SLS.

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As printed

As printed SLS parts are typically white or stone grey in color with a smooth surface and a powder texture and without visible layers.

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Dyed

SLS parts can be dyed by immersing in a warm color bath to a variety of colors. The color penetration reaches an approximate depth of 0.5 mm and covers all surfaces.

The following finishes are available by contacting support@shapefy.in

Finish

Description

Tumble polishing
The parts are placed in a tumbler that contains small ceramic chips, gradually eroding its surface down to a polished injection molding-like finish.
Bead blasting
Bead blasting (shot pinning) adds a uniform matte or satin surface finish on a 3D printed part.
Spray painting
SLS parts can be spray painted white, black or to a specified RAL or Pantone color.
Water tightening
SLS parts can be impregnated with resin, sealing all internal porosity, ensuring water tightness.

Design Recommendations

Max Part Size

Min Feature Size

Tolerance

Min Wall Thickness

Min Hole Diameter

Min Gaps for Mating Parts

330 x 280 x 420 mm
or
300 x 300 x 500 mm
0.8 mm
+/- 0.38 mm or 0.002 mm/mm, whichever is greater
1.0 mm for production, 1.5 mm for consistent measurement or mechanical properties
1 mm
0.2 mm minimum; we recommend 0.3 mm to ensure fit

+ Design for Manufacturing Tips

- For long, thin parts: use ribbing to mitigate warping risks