Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is an Additive Manufacturing process that belongs to the Powder Bed Fusion family. In SLS, a laser selectively sinters the particles of a polymer powder, fusing them and building a part layer-by-layer. The materials used in SLS are thermoplastic polymers that come in a granular form.

SLS 3D Printing is used to prototype functional polymer components and for small production runs. It offers high design freedom and accuracy and produces parts with excellent and consistent mechanical properties, unlike FDM or SLA. The capabilities of the technology can be used to their fullest, though, only when the designer considers its key benefits and limitations.

Technologies of additive manufacturing known as 3D printing (3DP) are considered the future of rapid prototyping, trim and even significant production lines for industry. There are several technologies distinguished by the phenomena they are based on and the materials they are utilizing. Reading this article, you will learn how SLS 3D printing works and the differences between the leading 3D printing technologies.

SLS 3D printing offers benefits such as greater strength and predictability in material and mechanical properties, no need for supports due to the bolstering of the powder, and the ability to design and produce complex geometries. Some spectacular and inspiring application examples include the following:

Aerospace – 3D printing has been used by NASA for decades to prototype and create functional parts, and most recently for building construction systems for the Moon and Mars.

Automotive – automotive manufacturing is using AM processes today for critical prototyping as well as high-performance parts. In addition, the ability to fabricate obsolete components is another excellent benefit of AM technology that auto shops around the world are utilizing.

For example, an automotive engineer may be working on a vintage car needing a replacement for a minor, detailed luxury feature out of stock, or a railway company may need to replace a part that has been in use for decades but is no longer in production.

Mechanical – Shapeways can 3D print parts on both small and large scales with SLS 3D printing, whether you are looking for detailed hinges or gaskets and seals for an air vent. While these types of objects can prove difficult to produce via digital fabrication, using an SLS printer will allow you to achieve precision and high-dimensional accuracy to ensure the perfect fit.

Medical devices – 3D printed medical models, and various implants have dramatically improved patient-specific treatment, including custom prosthetics and orthotics. There’s great potential for advanced developments such as the fabrication of human organs to be more widely available shortly.