What is SLS?
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is an industrial 3D printing process ideal for manufacturing end-use parts.
In SLS, a laser selectively sinters polymer powder particles, fusing them together and building a part layer-by-layer.
SLS produces functional plastic parts with isotropic mechanical properties that can be used for detailed prototyping or end-use low-volume production.
|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)|
Our SLS 3D printing capabilities
From prototyping to small-batch production, our global network of certified SLS 3D printing facilities will allow you to produce highly accurate parts with quality and strength comparable to injection molding.
Upload your CAD file for a free quote and manufacturability review and get your parts into production in less than 5 minutes.
|Maximum build size *||300 x 300 x 300 mm (11.8” x 11.8” x 11.8”)|
|Lead time *||6 business days|
|Dimensional accuracy||± 0.3% with a lower limit of ± 0.3 mm (± 0.012”)|
|Layer thickness||100 μm|
* For expedited lead times or parts that exceed the maximum build size contact firstname.lastname@example.org
SLS produces parts from a very wide range of engineering thermoplastics. Here is a list of the SLS materials available on 3D Hubs.
|Nylon 12 (PA 12)||SLS nylon is a robust thermoplastic with all-around excellent physical properties, ideal for functional prototypes and end-use applications.|
|Glass-filled Nylon (PA 12 GF)||Glass-filled SLS nylon is reinforced with glass beads creating parts with higher stiffness and thermal stability than standard nylon.|
|TPU / TPE / TPA *||Thermoplastic elastomers combine high elasticity and strength with good chemical resistance, making them ideal for functional, flexible parts.|
|Flame retardant Nylon (PA 12 FR) *||Flame retardant SLS nylon typically contains halogen-based agents making them suitable for electronic, automotive or aviation applications.|
|Fiberglass-filled Nylon (HST) *||Nylon-based composite with anisotropic properties suitable for end-use, functional applications that require high stiffness and low weight.|
|Carbon fiber filled PEKK (HT-23) *||Advanced composite with excellent thermal and chemical resistance, well suited for applications that require maximum performance and isotropic properties.|
* These materials are available by contacting email@example.com
Available surface finishes
Additional post processes can be applied to improve the appearance or mechanical properties of parts produced with SLS. Learn more about the post-processing option for SLS in our Knowledge Base article.
|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.|
|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.|
|Tumble smoothing *||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 pars can be spray painted white, black or to a specified RAL or Pantone color.|
|Water tightening *||SLS parts are vacuum impregnated with resin, sealing all internal porosity and ensuring water tightness.|
|Metal plating *||Electroplating (nickel, copper or gold) is an ideal solution for parts that require a metallic appearance, without the high costs associated with metal 3D printing.|
* These finishes are available by contacting firstname.lastname@example.org
Ideal SLS applications
Our in-house manufacturing experts recommend using SLS for the following use cases.
SLS is ideal for fabricating functional prototypes from durable, chemically resistant engineering thermoplastics.
Appearance: Smooth surface
Quantity: 1-5 parts
SLS is cost-competitive to injection molding for low-volume manufacturing of end-use plastics parts for quantities up to 300 units.
Appearance: Injection molding-like
Quantity: 10-300 parts
SLS can produce optimized parts from advanced polymer composites that can be used as replacements to metal components.
Appearance: Smooth surface
Quantity: 1-50 parts
Design guidelines for SLS
The table below summarizes the recommended and technically feasible values for the most common features encountered in 3D printed parts.
|Unsupported walls||1.0 mm (0.040'')|
|Supported walls||0.7 mm (0.030'')|
|Minimum detail size||0.25 mm (0.010'')|
|Minimum hole size||1.0 mm (0.040'')|
|Moving parts||0.5 mm (0.020'') between moving surfaces|
|Assembly clearance||0.4 mm (0.016'') between mating surfaces|
|Maximum wall thickness||20 mm (0.8'')
For thicker parts, make them hollow and add at least two escape hole for powder removal with a min. diameter of 8 mm (0.3'').
Learn how to design for SLS in our Knowledge Base article.