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Everything You Need to Know: SLS 3D Printers

2024.06.18  525 clicks

Written by Abigail    June 18, 2024


SLS 3D Printer Cost


Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printers represent a significant advancement in additive manufacturing, offering the ability to create complex and durable parts. When considering the cost of SLS 3D printers, it’s important to understand that prices can vary widely based on factors such as size, speed, precision, and the brand.


Entry-Level Desktop SLS 3D Printers


For those new to SLS printing or with limited budgets, desktop SLS 3D printers provide an accessible starting point. Prices for these machines start at around $6,000, making them suitable for small businesses, educational institutions, and hobbyists. These printers typically offer a smaller build volume and may have slower print speeds but still maintain a high level of detail and part strength.


Mid-Range Desktop SLS 3D Printers


Mid-range models, like the Sinterit Lisa, are priced at approximately $13,990. They strike a balance between affordability and professional capabilities, suitable for design studios and engineers who require higher precision and a larger build volume.


Professional Desktop SLS 3D Printers


Professional-grade printers, such as the Sinterit Lisa Pro, offer enhanced features like larger build volumes and improved precision. These models are priced at about $17,990, catering to professionals who need production-quality capabilities in a desktop package.


Industrial SLS 3D Printers


At the top end of the market are industrial SLS 3D printers. These systems offer the largest build volumes, fastest print speeds, and a wide range of material options. They are designed for high-volume production and can cost upwards of $100,000, depending on the specifications and capabilities required.


Investing in an SLS 3D printer requires careful consideration of your specific needs and budget. While entry-level printers are more affordable, professional and industrial models provide greater capabilities and flexibility for commercial applications. It’s essential to assess the long-term value and potential return on investment when selecting an SLS 3D printer.


How does SLS 3D printer work?


Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) builds parts by fusing powdered material layer by layer with a laser:


1. Preparing the Powder Bed: The process starts with a thin layer of powder material—typically nylon or other thermoplastics—spread evenly across the build platform.


2. Sintering with Laser: A high-powered laser selectively fuses the powder particles in accordance with the cross-sectional area of the design. The laser’s path is dictated by a digital file, ensuring precise adherence to the model’s geometry.


3. Layering: After a layer is sintered, the build platform lowers, usually by about 0.1 mm, and a new layer of powder is applied on top.


4. Repeating the Process: The sintering and layering steps are repeated, building the object up one layer at a time.


5. Cooling and Extraction: Once printing is complete, the build chamber is left to cool, after which the finished parts are extracted from the loose powder.


6. Post-Processing: Excess powder is removed, often with compressed air, and parts may undergo additional post-processing like sandblasting or dyeing to improve their appearance and properties.


SLS 3D printers can create parts with complex geometries without the need for support structures, as the unsintered powder acts as a self-supporting material. This characteristic makes SLS ideal for producing intricate designs that would be challenging or impossible to achieve with traditional manufacturing methods.


SLS Post-processing Options


After the SLS 3D printing process, parts often require post-processing to enhance their physical properties and aesthetic appeal. Each post-processing option can be used individually or in combination to achieve the desired quality and functionality of the SLS printed parts. The choice of post-processing technique will depend on the specific application and requirements of the final product.


1. Part Extraction and Powder Recovery: Once the SLS printing is complete, the parts need to cool down. Afterward, the parts are extracted, and any unsintered powder is recovered for reuse.


2. Media Blasting: Media blasting is used to clean off any remaining powder and improve the surface finish, which can be done using different abrasive materials, depending on the desired outcome.


3. Vibratory Tumbling: For a smoother finish, parts can undergo vibratory tumbling, which uses vibration and abrasion to polish the surface.


4. Vapor Smoothing: Vapor smoothing involves exposing the part to a chemical vapor that smoothens the surface by melting the outermost layer of the material.


5. Chemical Treatment: Chemical solutions can be applied to the parts to achieve various effects, such as altering the surface texture or changing the material properties.


6. Spray Painting: Spray painting and applying lacquer can give the part a desired color or finish, as well as additional protection.


7. Waterproof Coatings: To make parts water-resistant, waterproof coatings can be applied, which is particularly useful for functional prototypes and end-use parts.


8. Dyeing: SLS parts can be dyed in a hot color bath to add color. Dyeing is cost-efficient and can cover all internal and external surfaces.


SLS Printed Parts Applications


Aerospace and Defense


In the aerospace sector, SLS is utilized to produce lightweight components for spacecraft, satellites, and military equipment. The ability to create complex geometries without the need for support structures makes SLS ideal for the intricate designs often required in this industry.


Automotive


The automotive industry benefits from SLS for manufacturing customized parts and prototypes for vehicles. SLS allows for rapid prototyping and the production of end-use parts that can withstand the rigors of daily use.


Medical and Healthcare


SLS printing plays a crucial role in the medical field, from creating custom prosthetics and orthopedic implants to surgical tools and patient-specific models for preoperative planning.


Consumer Products


The consumer goods sector takes advantage of SLS for creating durable, functional prototypes and end-use products, including items like sports equipment, fashion accessories, and home appliances.


Industrial Goods


For industrial applications, SLS is used to fabricate jigs, fixtures, and other manufacturing aids that require high strength and thermal resistance.


Education and Research


In educational settings and research institutions, SLS helps in developing complex models and prototypes for academic projects and scientific studies.


Art and Architecture


Artists and architects use SLS to bring their visions to life, creating intricate sculptures and architectural models with a level of detail and complexity unachievable through traditional methods.


SLS 3D Printing Applications


Image Source: Formlabs


Top SLS 3D Printers


1. Formlabs Fuse 1+ 30W


The Formlabs Fuse 1+ 30W is a benchtop SLS 3D printer that combines industrial-grade capabilities with user-friendly design. It’s engineered for speed, with a 30W laser that can complete a typical print job in just seven hours, and features a streamlined workflow from setup to finished parts. The printer supports a wide range of materials, offers remote monitoring, and utilizes Surface Armor technology for consistent results. With the ability to deliver parts in under 24 hours and an automated post-processing system, the Fuse 1+ 30W is ideal for professionals seeking rapid, in-house production of high-quality parts.


SLS 3D Printers-Formlabs Fuse 1+ 30W


Image Source: Formlabs


2. Sintratec S3


The Sintratec S3 is a state-of-the-art SLS 3D printer designed for industrial use, offering a high-power 30W laser for precision and speed. It’s part of the Sintratec All-Material Platform, which allows for around-the-clock printing with a focus on flexibility and efficiency. The S3’s Fusion Module and multiple Build Modules enable quick material changes and continuous operation, making it ideal for high-performance printing setups of any size. With its Swiss-engineered design, the Sintratec S3 is tailored for producing precise, industrial-grade objects and is well-suited for businesses looking to optimize their manufacturing processes.


SLS 3D Printers-Sintratec S3


Image Source: Sintratec


3. EOS FORMIGA P 110 Velocis


The EOS FORMIGA P 110 Velocis is an advanced industrial 3D printer that stands out for its precision, speed, and cost-efficiency. It’s designed for the production of small to medium-sized parts and is renowned for its ability to produce parts with consistent quality and fine detail. The printer operates with a CO₂ laser and has a build volume of 200 x 250 x 330 mm. Notably, it requires minimal post-processing, allowing parts to be used almost immediately after printing. The FORMIGA P 110 Velocis is particularly noted for its low maintenance, ease of use, and the fact that it sets the industry standard for reliable, high-quality part production.


SLS 3D Printers-EOS FORMIGA P 110 Velocis


Image Source: EOS


4. 3D Systems SLS 380


The 3D Systems SLS 380 is an industrial-scale, process-controlled additive manufacturing solution designed for selective laser sintering. It offers high levels of throughput, consistency, performance, and yield, making it suitable for integrating into factory-floor ecosystems. The printer features closed-loop process controls for repeatability, a water-cooled laser, and a custom-developed algorithm that manages thermal uniformity within the build chamber. It captures over 100,000 thermal data samples per second to ensure dimensional stability and mechanical performance of parts. The SLS 380 also includes automated material handling options, with the ability to connect to one or multiple printers simultaneously, minimizing waste and operator intervention. This printer is optimized for cost-effective batch production parts and is ideal for applications in aerospace, medical, industrial design, and more.


SLS 3D Printers-3D Systems SLS 380


Image Source: 3D Systems


5. Nexa3D QLS230


The Nexa3D QLS230 is a breakthrough in the SLS 3D printing market, offering an affordable yet powerful solution for industrial applications. It boasts a fast cycle time of just 24 hours, with a required cooling period of only 2 hours, thanks to its efficient 30-watt CO2 laser. The printer’s build volume is a versatile 230 x 230 x 230mm, and it supports a wide range of materials, including 10+ qualified nylon powders and patented metal powders, making it suitable for a variety of production needs. With its open material platform and compatibility with recycled powders from other major brands, the QLS230 stands out for its operational sustainability and flexibility. Additionally, the printer is equipped with intuitive software suites for seamless operation and remote job management, ensuring a smooth and efficient printing process.


SLS 3D Printers-Nexa3D QLS230


Image Source: Nexa3D


6. EPlus3D EP-P420


The EPlus3D EP-P420 is an innovative SLS 3D printer that utilizes polymer powder bed fusion (PPBF) technology to produce medium and large-sized parts. With a generous build cylinder of 420 x 420 x 465 mm, the EP-P420 is capable of printing customized products and small batch production efficiently. It is designed to be user-friendly and cost-effective, making it a suitable choice for businesses looking to leverage the benefits of SLS printing for functional testing and production. The EP-P420’s hardware and software are tailored to enhance the sintering process, reduce standby times, and ensure high-quality polymer parts, positioning it as a valuable asset for manufacturers aiming for versatility and precision in their printing capabilities.


SLS 3D Printers-EPlus3D EP-P420


Image Source: EPlus3D


7. Sharebot SnowWhite 2


The Sharebot SnowWhite 2 is a professional SLS 3D printer that stands out for its compact size and precision. It’s equipped with a 14W CO2 laser and offers an optional nitrogen/argon modified atmosphere for advanced material handling. With a build volume of 100 x 100 x 100 mm and a layer resolution of 50 microns, it’s particularly suitable for universities and research centers focused on developing new polymers and composites. The SnowWhite 2 allows for quick start-up of print jobs, taking less than 15 minutes to begin printing, and requires only 300g of powder to start, making it efficient for small-scale, detailed projects. Its open parameters and the ability to control the powder or environment heat make it a flexible choice for R&D applications.


SLS 3D Printers-Sharebot Snowwhite 2


Image Source: Sharebot


8. XYZprinting MfgPro236 xS


The XYZprinting MfgPro236 xS is a versatile SLS 3D printer that caters to the needs of industrial users by offering a blend of performance, material range, and cost efficiency. It features a 60W CO2 laser that enhances its printing speed up to 22 mm per hour, and it supports a wide array of materials, including various grades of polyamide and TPU. The printer’s build volume is 230 x 230 x 250 mm, which is substantial for producing robust parts with excellent mechanical and thermal properties. Equipped with intuitive software suites like Buildware and XYZprint AM SLS, the MfgPro236 xS simplifies the sintering process and allows for remote project management. This printer is an ideal solution for on-demand manufacturers, research institutions, and third-party material suppliers looking to join the SLS ecosystem.


SLS 3D Printers-XYZprinting MfgPro236 xS


Image Source: XYZprinting


9. Prodways ProMaker P1000 X


The Prodways ProMaker P1000 X is an SLS 3D printer that offers a perfect blend of affordability, flexibility, and speed, making it suitable for the industrial production of series parts. It boasts a 300 x 300 x 360 mm build chamber and a 60W CO2 laser, ensuring high-precision parts with smooth surfaces. The printer’s bi-directional counter-rotating roller system and 10-zone infrared heating system optimize mechanical properties and process repeatability across a wide range of materials. With a 24-point grid thermal control system, the P1000 X can achieve a build rate of 2 liters/hour at a layer thickness of 60/100/120 μm, catering to the needs of various industries looking for a cost-effective yet powerful SLS solution.


SLS 3D Printers-Prodways ProMaker P1000 X


Image Source: Prodways


3DSPRO SLS 3D Printing Services


3DSPRO offers online SLS 3D printing services, delivering a seamless experience from digital design to physical parts.


Online Convenience


Clients can upload their 3D models directly to our online quoting platform, receive an instant quote, and proceed with the printing process. The service is designed to be user-friendly and efficient, ensuring a smooth transaction from start to finish.


Advanced SLS Technology


Utilizing the latest in SLS technology, we provide high-quality prints with remarkable detail and strength. We are capable of handling a diverse range of materials, catering to various industry needs.


Post-Processing Excellence


We offer a suite of post-processing services to enhance the final product, including:


Vapor Smoothing: This process smoothens the surface of printed parts, giving them a glossy finish and improved mechanical properties.


Spray Painting: A touch of color can be added with professional spray painting, providing a uniform coat that brings designs to life.


Dyeing: For more vibrant and lasting color, we offer dyeing services that penetrate the entire part, ensuring color consistency throughout.


Quality Assurance


Every part produced by 3DSPRO goes through a rigorous quality control process to ensure that it meets the high standards expected by our clients.


Expert Support


Our team of 3D printing experts is available to assist with any questions or custom requests, ensuring that clients receive the best possible outcome for their projects.


With 3DSPRO, customers have access to top-tier SLS 3D printing services combined with multiple post-processing options. Whether it’s for prototyping or end-use parts, 3DSPRO delivers professional results with the convenience of online ordering and the assurance of quality.


3DSPRO SLS Printed Parts


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