Selective laser sintering (SLS) is probably one of the more underrepresented 3D printing processes being used right now. Despite being versatile and highly detailed, it often scares off small and medium sized businesses with high prices, messy powder materials and the need for a dedicated, enclosed workspace. The price is especially intimidating to small, 3D printing service bureaus who are trying to offer local alternatives to Shapeways or Materialise.
But Sinterit, a group of ex-Google engineers, has spent two years developing the Sinterit Lisa, what they believe to be the first, affordable desktop SLS 3D printer. With a starting price tag of $8,000, if it works as well as they say it will, Lisa will easily allow almost anyone to start producing some pretty high quality SLS parts. The new printer will be officially debuting at this years Euromold 2015 on September 22nd -25th, but the company is opening up advanced orders on their website tomorrow.
The project started when they tested the viability of putting a laser on a RepRap extruder head and over the years it has evolved into a full, self-contained 3D printing ecosystem. They developed their own polyamide powder printing material, custom designed software and a wi-fi connected machine that doesn’t need to be sequestered in its own room, as any well-ventilated space will do. And considering most industrial SLS printers start at well over $100,000, that price tag can’t be beat.
To celebrate the launch of their new printer, the Sinterit team is offering some pretty spectacular early bird pricing to their first customers. They will be offering Sinterit Lisa for $5000 to the first five customers who place their orders before the printer’s appearance at Euromold. The next five customers will be able to buy it for $6000, and then the next group of customers will be able to pick up a Sinterit Lisa for $7000. All pre-ordered printers are set to be shipped in January 2016.
If you’re not familiar with the selective laser sintering process, the printer will spread a very thin layer of plastic material down on the printing bed. Then a laser will melt that plastic material together to build the first sliced layer of the model. It will repeat this process, layer by layer, until a fully formed model is completely encased in the printing bed. Because the plastic powder material remains in the print bed, there is no need for any sort of support structures, and objects with incredibly complex geometries can be made. SLS 3D printers can even create functional mechanical devices with parts that will move as soon as they are removed from the printing bed.
The Sinterit Lisa printing head has a 5 watt laser attached to it that will fuse parts together with a layer thickness as thin as 0.06 to 0.15mm (2.4 to 5.9 mils), almost too small to see any striation lines with the naked eye. The 15 x 20 x 15cm (5.9 x 7.9 x 5.9in) printing bed can produce individual objects as large as 13 x 17 x 13cm (5.1 x 6.7 x 5.1in) at a respectable speed of 15mm/h (0.6in/h). And just like all SLS printers, that entire printing envelop can be completely filled up with multiple models in order to maximize material usage and printing time. And all of this is contained in a desktop sized printer that weighs just a little over sixty pounds and has a manageable footprint of 65 x 55 x 40 cm (25.6 x 21.6 x 15.7in).
Lisa is run with Sinterit Studio 2016 software that was developed specifically for the printer. It can support multiple file types, including STL, OBJ, 3DS and FBX and will connect wirelessly to any computer. It also has an internal camera that allows the printing process to easily be monitored with a native web application, but the process is autonomous and Sinterit says that it really shouldn’t need any monitoring.
Currently the only printing material available for Lisa is their Black Polyamide 12 powder, however they are promising a rapid expansion to a range of available colors and material options. They also promise that each device will be completely calibrated and ready to use after a brief set up, and they will be offering a complete warranty. Not only is Sinterit selling the Lisa 3D printer to individual buyers, but they are also looking for local dealers and distributors to partner with.
Sinterit can be found demonstrating Lisa at Euromold 2015 in hall 16, booth D126 on September 22-25 in Düsseldorf, Germany. They will also be holding a lecture called “Small Laser Sintering System for professionals” in hall 15, stand D69 on Wednesday 23rd at 11:30 a.m. You can find out more about Sinterit Lisa on their website, and make sure that you let us know what you think about this new printer on our Sinterit Lisa Affordable Desktop Selective Laser Sintering 3D Printer forum at 3DPB.com.