rapid prototyping techniques - SLS


SLS stands for “Selective Laser Sintering”. This method was developed and patented by Dr. Carl Deckard at the University of Texas at Austin in the mid-1980s. Unlike SLA, SLS is much less known to the public, and sometimes even being considered the same method.

In general SLS is similar to Stereolithography, it utilizes the same laser based additive technology, only instead of liquid SLA resin a powder of specific material is being used as a media. An outcome of SLS built might be not as clean as SLA built, because during the process a powder’s particles are being melted together, which gives the SLS built model’s surface a sand texture. Other than that SLS built models are as precise as the SLA built ones.

Use of powdered material puts SLS method on a special place in the line of rapid prototyping techniques and allows practical applications that only available from this particular technology.

One of the unique properties of an SLS system is the ability to build by direct deposit metal parts using LaserForm A6 Steel based material. For professional model maker having an opportunity to receive directly off the machine a complex part made of metal is of great importance. Now the most vulnerable parts, such as brackets and other structures can be made of steel eliminating the very possibility of them breaking. A thin sandstone type texture of such parts usually does not pose a problem, especially if the parts are meant for large scale model of military vehicle. After all a benefit of having a steel part of maximum durability is so great that it completely compensates an inconvenience of having a thin texture on it. In case we still want a smoother surface, parts can be manually sand in order to reduce the texture or eliminate it completely.

Another interesting material available with SLS technology is nylon. Nylon parts are also durable and can be used to produce vulnerable model’s parts that require less than metal strength and durability. When we need a part that provides structural integrity for the model, has to withstand a stress, and too detailed for being produced by FDM, SLS nylon part is the most appropriate solution.

Unlike SLA or FDM SLS built does not require a support structure, as it is being supported by surrounded powder during the whole process.


Samples of the Parts produced by SLS

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SLS built metal antennas for the ISS models

SLS built metal folding solar panels for the ISS models

SLS built metal mirror brackets for 1:4 scale model of HMMWV

SLS built metal mirror brackets for 1:6 scale model of HMMWV

SLS built nylon mast and bracket for SATCOM antenna

SLS built metal mirror brackets for 1:5 scale MaxxPro Dash MRAP

SLS built nylon grid for 1:5 scale MaxxPro Dash MRAP

Unfinished SLS metal mirror brackets for the model of Husky MRAP

Finished SLS metal mirror brackets for the model of Husky MRAP

Finished SLS metal mirror brackets & rails for the model of Husky MRAP

Finished SLS nylon side rail for the model of Husky MRAP

Chassis' components for the model of Husky MRAP, SLS built from nylon

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