3D printing has transformed the manufacturing industry as this offers a very versatile method to provide complicated and customised parts. There are different technologies used when it comes to 3D printing and one of the popular techniques is Selective Laser Sintering (SLS).
SLS 3D Printing is an additive manufacturing process where a high powered laser is used. This fuses small particles of powdered material into a 3D object. The powdered material is most often a polymer. This method doesn’t need the use of liquid resins or support structures. Because powered materials are used here, there is more design freedom to be enjoyed. You will be able to create complex functional parts with SLS. The powder materials which are generally thermoplastic material can be chosen depending on the application of the part and the required properties. Some examples of polymer used for the powder material are polyamide and nylon. The laser system is the core of the SLS system and this will generally be a fibre laser or a carbon dioxide laser. This will selectively heat and fuse the powdered material in layers. To ensure that you achieve the required level of detail, you need a high level of precision and control for the laser.
The build platform is where the object you are constructing will be on.
This serves as the foundation for the object and it will be heated to a consistent temperature so that even material distribution can be maintained. This will prevent warping of the object. You need to make sure that there is an even layer of powder and this is achieved by a powder spreader. This is what distributes the powder across the build platform. This step ensures consistent part density. The SLS process starts by spreading a thin layer of the powdered material on the build platform. Once the cross section of the object is selectively scanned by the laser, the powder particles will be sintered together so that the first layer is formed. The platform will then be lowered and the process will be repeated for each layer that comes afterwards.
Once a layer is sintered,
The powder material that is surrounding the object will help support it and also act as a heat sink so that this layer can cool and start to solidify. After you have completed a layer, there will be another layer of fresh powder spread over the top so that it will become the base for the next layer. This process will be continued till the object is formed completely. After printing is finished, the part will be removed from the unsintered powder and post processing will be carried out. Some of the steps in post processing will include bead blasting, dyeing and surface finishing. There can be excess powder on the object that can be removed by bead blasting. Using SLS allows you to create intricate designs without limitations. This is because it doesn’t need any support structures. The unsintered powder is what supports the object during the printing process.