SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) or laser sintering is a 3D printing technology in which the shaping of the final three-dimensional products is performed by a laser that manipulates a special powder. It was established in the 80-s of the last century.
Similar to the other 3D printing technologies, the SLS also uses a computer (CAD) model which is used as a base for the creation of the real object. This is done by a special polymeric powder which is applied in thin layers (around 0.08 mm). After applying each layer, a laser beam passes through the powder and hardens it, following the predefined pattern. After that the next layer is applied and the process repeats. Unlike the Fused Deposition Modeling or other 3D printing technologies, the SLS does not require the use of support structures because the produced objects are completely surrounded by powder.
Due to the nature of the SLS technology, there is a wide variety of materials that can be used, including polycarbonate, acrylic-styrene and nylon, as well as ceramics, glass and even aluminum or silver.
The main advantages of the Selective Laser Sintering technology are: the good correlation between strength and lightness of the created products, the precision and the high quality of producing, as well as the rich variety of used materials. In addition, it allows color rendering during 3D printing, which extends the possibilities for application.
The wide range of materials allows using the Selective Laser Sintering for many different purposes – from conceptual models and functional prototypes, through the production of architectural models and small series of end products or promotional materials, to the creation of spare parts in single pieces. The technology is actively used in numerous industries such as automotive, aviation, medical, and other manufacturing areas. It is also suitable for activities like painting and grinding, as well as for the creation of artistic and other models that require color printing during the printing process.