SLS 3D technology was the first benchmark in the field of additive manufacturing niche. It was developed in 1980 and over a period of 30 years, it has evolved to become highly accessible.
SLS 3D printing makes use of powdered plastic polymer as material and uses a high power laser beam to fuse those particles together into the desired 3D object. The SLS process is among the professional-grade innovations.
This is because of the various favorable mechanical and physical properties it provides to the 3D shaped printed with the help of this technology. Hence, it is used for both functional prototyping as well as commercial purposes.
One can expect to achieve high accuracy as well as the freedom to create shapes as needed. So, what is the best SLS 3D printer? To make a pick, you must check out a few options and find out what fits in your 3D printing goals.
When the technology first surfaced, the SLS 3D printers used to be bulky. And, it was a very expensive process.
The industrial 3D printers are still high prices, although a bit compact as compared to their old versions, but consumers do have choices now.
These days we have variously affordable as well as compact SLS machines, suiting the workspace of small scale production.
Today, you can find different features locked within the technology offering assorted results to the users. Hence, you can choose the one that fits your needs specifically.
Overview of Materials Used for SLS 3D Printing
If you have worked with an SLS additive manufacturing, you must know that Polyamide 12 or also known as PA12 is the most popular material used in SMS machines.
You can also call these Nylon 12. There are few other options available when printing with an SLS machine. The other thermoplastic powder materials are PEEK, Polyamide 11 and few more.
The polyamide-based powder is also readily fixed with other additives to further enhance its mechanical as well as thermal properties.
You can choose between glass fiber, carbon fiber, and aluminum. But you must remember one thing though. These additives have a drawback as well. They make the material prone to breaking turning them brittle.back to menu ↑
As discussed earlier, this material is used widely across different niches for various applications. Nylon 12, known as Polyamide 12, is the most common one when it comes to SLS 3D printing.
With its exceptional mechanical and thermal properties, the material tends to be favorite among 3D printing experts. The best part is that PA12 is even resistant to many chemicals that other materials cannot resist.
When talking about the properties of the material, you would bet on its stability, which lasts longer than usual. Hence, the material is used widely for functional prototypes.
It also makes a great option when building end-use parts. Companies have also come up with variants of Polyamide 12 materials.
Now, you can find biocompatible options under certain conditions. Just remember, the parts printed with this material happens to stay rough from outside. Hence, one would require post-processing to make it desirable.back to menu ↑
Polyamide 11, known as PA11 provides 3D expert parts with higher elasticity. It creates 3D parts that are completely isotropic in nature.
Moreover, the PA11 exhibits comparable mechanical properties to that of PA 12. Plus, you can expect this to stay firm while showcasing lower environmental impacts.
The reason is that the material is extracted from renewable raw materials. These raw materials are taken from vegetable oil. Not just that, you can rely on its thermal and chemical resistance.
The material is available in fine black powder and produces parts that remain unharmed in the sun, UV rays as well as changing weather.back to menu ↑
Now, if you require some extra elasticity, you can use TPU as your SLS material. This is quite flexible yet strong. Because of its favorable properties, the material is ideal for functional prototypes as well as for end-use parts.
Because of its elasticity, it tends to offer huge benefits for those applications that are prone to wear and tear. Plus, you can enjoy an amazing surface finish. You can also expect it to offer attention to details precisely.back to menu ↑
Carbon Fibre-Filled Nylon
As mentioned before, the nylon powder is mixed with other additives to achieve different mechanical and thermal properties.
One such additive which his highly used across the SLS 3D printing niche is the carbon fiber. When added to nylon, it is called carbon fiber-filled nylon.
As the name suggests, the material is a mixture of Nylon powder and carbon fibers. So, what difference does it make to the overall properties of Nylon?
This specific material, created with mixing carbon fiber adds exceptional weight-to-strength ratio to the end parts. It also has amazing stiffness.
There is a downside though. It makes parts more of anisotropic. Hence, the properties of the material aren’t consistent throughout. And, these would vary with direction as you measure these.
So, take your call accordingly. Apart from that, the material is useful in many applications where being anisotropic does not count much.back to menu ↑
Another additive used for playing around with the standard properties of SLS material is Glass. It tends to offer high tensile strength.
Plus, the material is also resistant to wear and tear. It can withstand high temperatures. Hence, it is a viable option, if you are looking to use the material for a specific application that requires such properties handy.
However, as you would expect, the material displays anisotropic characteristics as the carbon fiber-filled Nylon material does.
The amount of brittleness would depend on the percentage of glass used while mixing it with Nylon. Usually, it varies from 10 to 40 percent. The more the percentage of glass the more brittle the parts produced.back to menu ↑
What to Look for When Buying the Best SLS 3D Printer?
Applications vary and so do their requirements. When selecting the best SLS 3D printer, one must find out the 3D printing goals that would help make an informed decision.
There should not be any beating around the bush. Rather, you must be precise about what you want to do with the printer after all.
If you operate a business and need a machine for large scale production, your criteria for the best SLS 3D printer would differ from those looking for a desktop version of the same.
Hence, here is what you must look for when choosing the best SLS 3D printer for your goals.
Affordability: Never forget to set a budget for yourself. The SLS 3D printer price varies unimaginably. It could come for around $5000 as well as some of the expensive ones that are priced above tens of thousands of dollars. Hence, you must set a bar for yourself. Or, you may end up paying a lot more than your pocket can afford.
Application: One more important thing to look for is its application. Are you looking to start a professional career or just want to own a 3D printer for home use? Remember, the printer isn’t as cheap as FDM ones. Instead, it is available for thousands of dollars to start with. Hence, you must decide what you want to do with the machine. You cannot leave that decision for later.
Material Support: Because you have decided on the application, you must have found out the material you would be working with. If your best SLS 3D printer supports that material, you are good to go. Or else, this choice may not be the best choice for your needs.
Warranty and Machine Support: Now, these factors depend on the company’s policies. Some of the companies offer amazing warrant terms. Plus, they also provide onsite support. You must check all those details about the company before buying the SLS 3D printer.back to menu ↑
What Are Some of the Best SLS 3D Printers?
The SLS 3D printers are getting highly recognized within commercial use as well. This is because of the huge development that happened around the SLS 3D printing process.
While the old machines were too bulky and only used for rapid prototyping, the new ones are better and compact. Also, the prices have reduced immensely.
Here is a list of a few of the best SLS 3D printers that have made everyone awestruck with their performance.back to menu ↑
The DIY kits help cut down on the printer price considerably. And, the same goes for SLS 3D printers. You can opt for these kits instead of going for the completely assembled 3D printers. One option is Sintratec Kit.
This is a build-it-yourself alternative instead of plug and play design. It does require some extra effort, but the price it saves compensates for those extra hours.
While the SLS 3D printers aren’t available for less than tens of thousands of dollars, this one is only for $5,350. This is why the kit is highly popular among those who wish to own a 3D Printer for exploring the possibilities associated with SLS 3D printing technology.
The kit is available for users since 2014. This is the first offering from the company Sintratec and since then, it has been making everyone fall for its capabilities.
This kit isn’t very easy to install and would take up to 4 days before you would be able to start printing on the machine. While that sounds too much, you would definitely be able to learn a lot about technology when starting from scratch.
It has a build volume of 100 x 100 x 100 mm. And, you can achieve a minimum layer height of 50 microns. So, you can expect to create precise geometrical parts.back to menu ↑
The Sharebot SnowWhite is a bit unique than in terms of the light source it uses to sinter the powder together.
Instead of using a laser diode that is usually found in the SLS 3D printers, this one makes use of CO2 laser. Hence, the machine could print with a variety of materials. It works with PA12, PA11, TPU, and with materials containing additives.
The machine is designed to help those with small scale production as well as those involved in researches and laboratories. The Sharebot SnowWhite is compact.
The best part is that the machine is very easy to use. The SLS 3D printer is priced at around $40,000. Yes, it is expensive. However, it is worth every penny. With a build volume of 100 x 100 x 100mm, it is also among the smallest SLS 3D printers in the world.back to menu ↑
Our list couldn’t have been complete without Sinterit Lisa. This is definitely the best SLS 3D Printer or one among the few trendsetters. This is considered the first actual benchtop-sized SLS 3D printer. The machine is manufactured in Poland.
The cost of the 3D printer is around €6,990. However, if you wish to get the sandblasting together with powder sieve, you must be ready to spend €2,000 more.
It’s not just the price that makes the printer different from others but its intuitive user interface as well. This helps in simplifying the working of the machine.
Unlike the other two in the list, the 3D printer offers a build volume of 150 x 200 x 150 mm which is considerably bigger. Plus, the minimum layer resolution one can achieve is 0.075 microns.
Anyone wanting to use this for creativity or manufacturing on a small scale can make use of this best SLS 3D printer.
You can use it with PA12 as well as TPU when 3D printing. The machine is very delightful and interactive in terms of its interface. You can carry 3D printing step by step as being led by some professionals. Hence, a very great choice for prosumers and makes.back to menu ↑
Nothing seemed right until we find the best partner in crime. No work seems complete when not accomplished using the best tools.
The same goes for 3D printing. You cannot think of getting desired results unless you find the best SLS 3D printer for your task.
So, check the list and look a bit harder of what you need to accomplish. It would help you finalize the decision with the right choice.