Additive Manufacturing Strategies

Another Low Cost SLS 3D Printer is Announced – Sharebot SnowWhite SLS is the Latest at Less Than $20,000

ST Medical Devices

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snowwhite4Selective laser sintering (SLS) 3D printers have been available to large corporations for decades now. They have been used to create prototypes of products for companies that are looking to have a more efficient, time saving method, than what is typically offered by injection molding. SLS 3D printers have also been used in the medical field, as well as for the production of end use products. However, when it comes to affordable 3D printers, which one could conceivably have in their home or office, this market has been reserved for FDM and SLA based machines. SLS 3D printers have just been too expensive for the typical small business or home user to purchase.

snowwhiteThis is about to change though. Two weeks ago, we reported on the Ice1 & Ice9 SLS 3D Printers, which were slated for Kickstarter, and were to be priced starting at just $13,000. Then just a few days ago, we reported on the Sintratec SLS 3D Printer, that is launching a crowdfunding campaign for what will be the most affordable SLS 3D printer kit ever made available (if funded), at only $5,277.

Now there is a third company jumping into the “affordable” SLS 3D printer market, with a printer that they refer to as the “SnowWhite”. ShareBot, an Italian based company that has been manufacturing and selling FDM based 3D printers since 2011, has decided to try there hand at a different technology, one which can create highly precise parts, through the use of selective laser sintering (SLS).

SLS 3D printers work by using a laser to sinter (melt and then harden) a fine powder, one layer at a time. Once the laser has melted the powder on the first layer, a roller applies another layer of powder, which is subsequently melted as well. This is done until a final object is fabricated.

Today, Sharebot Srl, has announced that they have completed their preliminary development of Project SnowWhite, which is the “first sub-$20,000 selective laser sintering system”. While the previously mentioned SLS machines do carry lower prices, they are also all contingent on being funded via crowdfunding. There are no guarantees that they will ever come to market. With the Sharebot SnowWhite, we are pretty much guaranteed to see it come to market very soon. In fact, it will be officially presented at London’s 3DPrintShow on September 4th.

“Sharebot’s first SLS 3D printer will open a new era in the adoption of 3D printing by making this advanced, multiple-object, powder thermoplastic based system accessible at less than one tenth the price of the current most affordable SLS additive manufacturing system on the market,” said the company in a press release. “Project SnowWhite creates 3D dimensional objects from a digital CAD file by sintering a fine polymeric powder, also developed internally by Sharebot’s R&D Division.”

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The SnowWhite 3D Printer was developed entirely in-house at Sharebot’s R&D Department in Nibionno, Italy. The price of under $20,000 is about 1/10 the price that most SLS based 3D printers currently sell for. The scheduled release for this new 3D printer is sometime in early 2015.

With the background that Sharebot has in the manufacturing of 3D printers, there is no reason to believe that this will not be a high quality SLS printer. With the drop in costs of these normally high priced printers, we may begin to see more small businesses utilizing the power and precision of SLS in regards to prototyping, as well as the creation of end-use products. What do you think about this new Sharebot 3D printer? Discuss in the Sharebot SnowWhite SLS 3D Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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