Although FFF/FDM technology gets all the attention within the desktop 3D printing space, there are so many other technologies out there which may also come down in price and appeal to the consumer in the long run. One such technology is Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) where a laser melts a powder material, layer-by-layer as an object is slowly fabricated. This technology is used within many metal printers as well as the $150,000+ plastic printers targeted towards industry.
One company, founded by three ex-Google employees, Sinterit, wants to change all of this by offering an affordable desktop SLS 3D printer that’s also of the utmost quality. Back in November, we reported on the company’s announcement to launch such a machine for $5,000, and although since then they’ve been very quiet, an incredible amount of work has been going on behind the scenes.
Today, the company founded by Paul Szczurek, Konrad Glowacki, and Mike Grymala-Moszczynski, revealed their printer to the world for the first time. The machine itself, which has not officially been given a name yet, looks similar to a personal computer tower, is incredibly sleek and aesthetically pleasing. All this was not easy for the team of engineers to accomplish, who had to work around several difficult issues which other forms of 3D printing lack.
“A challenging aspect of creating a new SLS printer is the requirement of slicing software and firmware,” explained the team. “In order to produce a printer of high quality the software should be written from scratch. While it is possible to modify existing (open source) software the quality or strength of the printer is likely to suffer. Good software is key. Unlike FDM or SLA, when starting up SLS is relatively power hungry. The whole printer has to be heated up, not only the small flat bed. Moreover, SLS printers have to be properly designed to avoid drawing too much current from the outlet during this initial stage. Big professional printers require 3 phase outlets to operate, and they draw more that 5KW during printing, we optimized this aspect and our printer is much less power hungry.”
After months on end of research and development, the team feels that they have a well-functioning SLS printer, which can be priced around the $5,000 mark, making it available for small businesses and even some individuals within the DIY community.
The printer, which is expected to ship this calendar year, will be equipped with a heated multi-zone print bed, heated feed bed and a heated cylinder. It can print with a variety of materials such as polymide 12, a polymide 12 and carbon fiber or fiberglass mixture, or a polymide 12 and aluminum mixture. Below are some additions specifications for this forthcoming machine:
- Max Build Envelope: 130mm x 170mm x 130mm
- Scan Speed: 500mm/s
- Laser Power: 5W
- Connectivity: WiFi
- Material Cost: Approximately$100/kg
For those of you interested in meeting the team behind Sinterit and checking out the printer they will be coming to market with shortly, Sinterit will be present at several key conferences and shows, including one in Warsaw, Poland on April 24-26, the IDTechEx Show in Berlin, Germany on April 28-29, and the Collision Conference in Downtown Las Vegas on May 5-6.
Let us know your thoughts on this remarkable machine. Discuss in the Sinterit SLS Printer forum thread on 3DPB.com.