The SLS Method Is The Future of Rapid Prototype Manufacturing

Categories: Technology
No Comments

Laser sintering is the wave of the future when it comes to prototypes.  The use of lasers has turned out to be helpful in an assortment of applications, from laser eye surgery to laser scans to laser light shows.  Lasers prove their efficacy that they can be utilized to enhance technology.  With ease, you can make prototypes of alloy components through the process of DMLS.  This technology is simple to use and may create made of a variety of types of metals.  No matter the part you require, you are able to make it using laser technology.

Direct metal laser sintering, or DMLS, is a manufacturing process by which metal powder is sintered into layers using lasers.  Until they achieve the desired depth, these layers are sintered together.  They need support structures, which are also manufactured from sintered metal’s incorporation.  After sintering is complete these support structures can be eliminated.  The finished prototype will require some additional work such as heat treatment, shot peening, and other procedures, in order to be perfected.  The end result is a durable, precise metal prototype that can help you to figure out whether or not your new design will work.

You can use DMLS to create prototypes from a number of metals.  It’s possible to create parts out of ceramic, stainless steel, Inconel, Hastalloy, and chrome.  Laser sintering employs powdered metal in layers, and technology is continuing to move ahead on these inventions.  You will be able to use this technology on types of alloys and alloys so you can get the prototypes that you need for efficacy and maximum durability.  Your prototypes will be so great that you may even be able to use them.

DMLS took some time to be developed, however, now that it exists, is moving ahead quickly with various metals and further innovations in the field.  There are certain to be improvements to the technology of laser sintering, and the manufacturing world can look forward to much prototyping technologies later on if this procedure is any indication.  The easier it is to make a prototype you will need to perfect your product or part or whatever it is that you wish to improve.  The wave of the future is currently continuing to forge.

The Demand For Prototyping

By allowing the design division, manufacturing/production engineering, and marketing departments to see the model for an early phase allows costly mistakes to be eliminated.  Before expensive tooling was created for a generation whilst the versions at this point are comparatively inexpensive, any errors can be rectified.

The term Rapid is relative as some versions can take only a few hours to construct whereas others might take several days.  It is dependent on sophistication, the size and the technique being used.

The standard document format that is used between the CAD software and the rapid prototyping machines is your STL file format.  Although for color models like those the VRML format is used because there’s not any color information in the STL file format.  using triangular facets, both formats make an approximation of the shape of a part or assembly.  The bigger the triangles the smoother the surface there is a stage where there will be no improvement because of the limitations of the technology.  In order to see how the prototype machines are going to realize your model, you want to turn off shading from the 3D CAD software.

There are a variety of methods that can be used to deposit the content and which is ideal for your project will depend on what you need from your own models.  They are:

Stereolithography (SLA)

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)

3D Printing (3DP)

Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM)

All these techniques take another substance that is known as the service material, which allows tapered surfaces and overhangs to be produced as the component is ‘grown’.  These come in a variety of forms that can be liquid powder, wax.  Some machines generate the support arrangement for you so you don’t have any control over where it goes, whereas other machines you need to manually create the support substance using specialist computer software.

Some of the other advantages of Rapid manufacture are:

Low material waste


Complex Geometries

Energy Efficiency

Quick Manufacturing is widely regarded by specialists as the next phase for Rapid Prototyping technology.

Uses Of Rapid Prototyping

To reduce product development time (time compression technology)

To Boost engineering changes

To Improve successful communication between engineers, product designers, and marketing departments

To prolong the product life cycle

The SLS Process

Rapid Prototyping has been used as an instrument to produce early concept models.  Employed as visual design aides and ancient marketing tools, model models were originally confined to the first stages of the design process because of the nature of substances.  Ongoing development and research within the field of Rapid Prototyping have resulted in significant improvements in the assortment of materials available with prototype models now acceptable for form fit and function testing.  Taking even further, the 3D printing service of Selective Laser Sintering process has proven popular as a tool for Rapid Manufacture of production elements.

The Procedure 

Selective Laser Sintering is the Additive Manufacturing procedure where 3-dimensional objects are”grown” layer by layer from fused particles of ceramic, glass, plastic or metal.  Employing an STL file of the part that is essentially a high power laser draws a cross-section of the item.  As the laser strikes the powder it unifies to create a mass representing a single cross-section of the part.  Once this cross-section is completed the construct platform reduces by 0.1mm and a new layer of powder is dispersed across the construct platform.  The process repeats until the final thing is”increased” layer by layer.  Minimal clean-up is required as the loose or un-sintered substance can just be brushed away to leave the final model.

With minimal cleanup and turnover times of less than 24 hours provided on the SLS Formiga P100 machine, Selective Laser Sintering integrates perfectly into the manufacturing environment.


The selection of materials available through Selective Laser Sintering continues to grow as research and development into Rapid Prototyping technology proceeds, however, some of the most popular SLS materials include.

– PA 2200 – a nylon-based material that provides high-temperature resistance and outstanding durability, PA 2200 is acceptable for creating living hinges and snap matches.

– PA 3200 GF – the blend of Nylon and Glass in PA3200 GF creates extremely high-temperature resistant parts with higher durability and mechanical wear resistance.

– Alumide – Inspired by its high stiffness, metallic appearance, and decent post-processing properties, alumide is an aluminum filled material.

– PrimePart FR – a flame retardant material offering good dimensional stability.

– PEEK – the world’s first high-performance polymer with high temperatures, chemical and wear resistance.

– PrimeCast – polystyrene-based PrimeCast presents excellent surface finish and reduced ash residue, offering a perfect solution for the creation of lost routines for investment castings.

The short production lead times along with the assortment of tough functional SLS materials readily available assistance to explain the growing popularity of Selective Laser Sintering for its creation of one-off or very low volume parts.