Selective laser sintering (SLS) is a professional additive manufacturing technology for 3D printing on plastic.
With an additive manufacturing SLS system, it is possible to produce stiff and durable plastic components from CAD data.
This innovative additive manufacturing process is used to produce polymeric components for prototypes and final parts. It is one of the most widely utilized and reliable 3D printing techniques for the small and medium-scale manufacturing of end-use industrial plastic components.
SLS systems use a laser as an energy source, which melts the plastic material into powder at selected points, causing the particles to fuse and solidify. This manufacturing process is part of the powder bed additive manufacturing processes family (Powder Bed Fusion), one of the most advanced and reliable technologies in the field of additive manufacturing.
Based on 3D data from a CAD model, the laser melts the plastic material exactly in the predefined areas in the powder bed on top of the system build platform. After the melting process is complete, the build platform is lowered and a new layer of powder is added.
This process is repeated layer by layer until the part is completed. Unlike other 3D printing processes, such as stereolithography (SLA) and fused deposition modeling (FDM), SLS does not require supports. This is because the same powder that surrounds the sintered part acts as a support.
Choosing the right material is essential to obtain good results for each application. There are several developed and certified polymeric materials for additive manufacturing in SLS.
The most common material for selective laser sintering is Nylon, also known as polyamide. This 3D printing plastic material is highly valued for its properties. Parts made of Nylon are robust, stable for long periods of time, resistant to chemicals, and extremely versatile.
We differentiate two main types of Nylon:
PA 11 (Polyamide 11): More flexible than PA 12 and impact resistant
PA 12 (Polyamide 12): Excellence heat resistance, more resistant to abrasion and biocompatible.
In addition to these standard plastic materials, other newer high-tech materials are continuously being developed to meet customers’ special requirements, such as flexible TPU or high-temperature resistant PAEK (polyaryletherketones).