Information on Selective Laser Sintering
We use 3D printing technology for converting digital designs into real life three-dimensional entities. Companies around the globe have started using this tech as it is an extremely affordable and convenient way of building both finished products and prototypes. The technology is also quite popular among inventors and hobbyists. Selective laser sintering or SLS is one of the most widely used 3D printing technologies. This article will help you get acquainted with this special procedure.
SLS involves use of tiny ceramic, glass or plastic particles. Heat generated by a high power laser beam is applied to fuse those particles together; this results in formation of three-dimensional, solid objects.
The procedure described above is a brainchild of Carl Deckard, who was just an undergraduate student then. The technology was patented by Deckard during the 1980s. He invented this new 3D tech with assistance from Joe Beaman, a mechanical engineering professor.
It's true that Beaman and Deckard were the ones to patent SLS. However, they were certainly not the first ones to make use of sintering, a procedure in which atomic diffusion is used for creating 3D objects from powders. That tech has been in use since the ancient times; people have used it for making objects such as jewelry, porcelain and bricks.
One of the most important elements of SLS is a CAD or computer aided design file. However for the 3D printing machine to understand the CAD file, you will have to convert it into a file of .STL format.
Usually SLS is used for printing objects with powered plastics; however, there are also several instances where the technology involves use of other materials. During the printing process, the powder is heated either below or above its boiling point using laser beams. The process is called sintering when the powder gets heated up to a temperature just below the material's boiling point. This application of heat fuses all particles together to form a solid object.
The object is not removed immediately from the printing machine. It is kept in the machine for some time even after being fully formed. The object is taken out only after it cools down.
Selective laser sintering is used for making objects using a range of materials including ceramics, glass and plastic. Some companies and hobbyists also use this technology to make objects from powdered metals.
SLS is more popular in industries that need to manufacture products in very small quantities, but by using materials of highest quality, for instance, the aerospace industry.