Tag Archives: SLS 3D Printer

This modified laser cutter can print complex 3D objects from powder

Rice University researchers have modified a commercial-grade CO2 laser cutter to create OpenSLS, an open source SLS platform.

Engineers at Rice University have modified a commercial-grade CO2 laser cutter to create OpenSLS an open source, selective laser sintering platform that can print complicated 3D objects from powdered plastics and biomaterials.


As impressive as that may be, what really sets this system apart is its cost. OpenSLS can be built for under $10,000, compared to other SLS platforms typically priced in the ballpark of $400,000 and up. (That’s at least 40 times less than its commercial counterparts.) To make this a reality, this DIY device is equipped with low-cost hardware and electronics, including Arduino and RAMBo boards. The Rice team provides more detail around specs and performance in PLOS ONE.

“SLS technology is perfect for creating some of the complex shapes we use in our work, like the vascular networks of the liver and other organs,” explains Jordan Miller, an assistant professor of bioengineering and the study’s co-author. He adds that commercial SLS machines generally don’t allow users to fabricate objects with their own powdered materials, which is something that’s particularly important for researchers who want to experiment with biomaterials for regenerative medicine and other biomedical applications.

To test their concept, the team demonstrated that OpenSLS is capable of printing a series of intricate objects from both nylon powder — a commonly used material for high-resolution 3-D sintering — and from PCL, a nontoxic polymer that’s typically used to make templates for studies on engineered bone.


It should be noted, however, that OpenSLS works differently than most traditional desktop 3D printers, which create objects by extruding melted plastic through a nozzle as they trace out two-dimensional patterns and 3D objects are then built up from successive 2D layers. On the contrary, an SLS laser shines down onto a flat bed of plastic powder. Wherever the laser touches powder, it melts or sinters the powder at the laser’s focal point to form a small volume of solid material. By tracing the laser in 2D, the printer can fabricate a single layer of the final part. After each layer is complete, a new one is laid down and the laser is reactivated to trace the next layer.

The best way to think of this process, says Miller, is to think of “finishing a creme brulee, when a chef sprinkles out a layer of powdered sugar and then heats the surface with a torch to melt powder grains together and form a solid layer. Here, we have powdered biomaterials, and our heat source is a focused laser beam.”

The professor, who happens to be an active participant in the burgeoning Maker Movement, first identified commercial CO2 laser cutters as prime candidates for a low-cost, versatile SLS machine three years ago. According to Miller, that’s because the cutter’s laser already possessed the right wavelength and perfectly suitable hardware for controlling power and its axes with precision.

Intrigued? You’ll want to see it in action below, and then head over to the team’s Wiki page and GitHub repository to delve a bit deeper.

[Images: Rice University]

Sinterit unveils its game-changing SLS 3D printer

Can this startup’s $8,000 3D printer change the game? 

While FDM and SLA technologies seems to be the most popular choice for desktop 3D printers at the moment, that may soon all change. That’s because one startup, founded by a trio of former Google employes, has announced a low-cost SLS machine dubbed the Sinterit Lisa.


Selective laser sintering is in a league of its own when it comes to yielding high-quality, high-definition results. These machines avoid the extrusion process entirely, and instead, construct objects by selectively solidifying very fine powder materials of nylon, layer by layer, using a laser. Unfortunately, as incredible as these devices may be, the cheapest SLS printer on the market today cost roughly $180,000 — that was up until now.

Sinterit’s impressive gadget resembles a PC tower decked out in vibrant colors like those iMac G3 computers from the late ‘90s. Leading up to its launch, the startup has kept themselves under the radar with a minimal website and have only shared a couple of detailed prints. Well, after several months of research and development, the team has finally debuted its affordable (in the scheme of SLS printers) device, which is targeted at small businesses and the Maker community.


As seen in a number of their sampled items, nylon SLS prints tend to be far more durable and sturdy than conventional FFF prints, and feature far smoother surfaces with intricate detail. The Sinterit Lisa’s 5W laser diode head enables users to create objects with a layer thickness of 0.06mm to 0.15mm and at a speed of 15mm/h.

It should be pointed out that the project has come a long way since its conception, having initially began with a prototype that its creators describe as a “laser on a RepRap.” In time, this has morphed into a full, self-contained ecosystem with Wi-Fi connectivity, its own polyamide powder material and custom software called Sinterit Studio 2016.


What’s more, once a 3D design has been sent to the Sinterit Lisa, the printer’s autonomous operating system handles it from there. Meanwhile, an internal camera module allows a user to observe the process. It is also capable of printing multiple file types, including STL, OBJ, 3DS and FBX.

Some of its key features include:

  • Build volume: 13cm x 17cm x 13cm (5.1” x 6.7” x 5.1”)
  • Print scan speed: Up to 500 mm/second
  • Print bed temperature: Up to 180°C (356°F)
  • Laser power: 5W
  • Connectivity: Wi-Fi


The printer is expected to ship sometime in January 2016 and will be equipped with a heated multi-zone print bed, a heated feed bed and a heated cylinder. For the time being, the Sinterit Lisa can only accommodate black polyamide 12 powder as its printing material; however, the team notes that more colors and filaments will be made available soon.

Sound like a piece of machinery that you’d love to have on your Makerspace workbench? Head over to its official site here.

You-SLS is an inexpensive, open-source SLS 3D printer

One Maker has set out to build the cheapest SLS printer on the market. 

In recent years, there have been plenty of FDM and SLA printers to emerge on crowdfunding sites, and rightfully so. Given their ease-of-use and affordability, these desktop machines have become the go-to choice for Makers looking to 3D print a project. Though, as great as they may be, users often encounter a number of limitations when it comes to creating overhangs greater than 45 degrees, altering a design on a whim and adding support material.


Meanwhile, selective laser sintering (or SLS) is in a league of its own when it comes to yielding high-quality, high-definition results. These machines avoid the extrusion process entirely, and instead, construct objects by selectively solidifying very fine powder materials of nylon, layer by layer, using a laser. Unfortunately, as incredible as these devices may be, the cheapest SLS printer on the market today is in the ballpark of $180,000.

That was until now. 18-year-old Maker Lukas Hoppe has set out to introduce an SLS 3D printer that packs all of the key elements of those industrial-grade machines without the astronomical price tag. What’s more, it will also be open-source and feature a heated build chamber.


Hoppe admits that he only got into 3D printing about a year ago, but immediately became an advocate of the Atmel driven RepRap movement yet was always tempted by more pricier 3D printers. This got him to thinking: What if there was a way that would combine the open-source principles of a RepRap with the professional quality of SLS devices? And so, the $2,000 You-SLS 3D Printer was born.

As expected, the machine is based on the highly-popular tandem of an Arduino Mega (ATmega2560) and a RAMPS 1.4 board, along with Marlin firmware. However, controlling a SLS machine is a bit more complex than commanding a conventional FDM printer, and so, Hoppe employed another Arduino to drive the recoater. The rest of the You-SLS consists of commonly available parts that make constructing as simple and inexpensive as possible.


What really sets this gadget apart from other SLS printers is its X-Y gantry system, as hardware and software for those systems is readily accessible.

“I decided that it would be best to stick with the Cartesian X-Y system, as the software is hassle free, it allows the use of a standard RAMPS board, which again is very common with open source printers, and the hardware is available all over the world from different suppliers at a low cost,” the Maker adds.

The DIY system will employ a three-way heating system: each of two pistons will be equipped with two 300W heating cartridges and the build chamber will be heated by two optical heaters with independent temperature feedback controls. The laser sintering system itself will revolve around a laser-diode with 2W of power at a wavelength of 445nm.


In order to cool the various lasers, stepper motors and electronic components, the Maker notes that his design moves the lasers outside the hot environment by creating two parts: a lower segment, which contains the two pistons and a recoater, and the upper segment that holds the XY-stage and the laser diode. This way, the hot and the cold parts of the machine are separated.

The You-SLS printer’s outer dimensions are 90cm x 50cm x 55cm, which will make it a welcomed addition to any Makerspace workbench. And with a print bed of about 20cm x 15cm x 10cm in size, this allows larger parts to be printed diagonally and for jet small parts to be created without using too much powder to fill the bed.

Sound like something you’d like? Hurry over to Hoppe’s official Indiegogo page, where the Maker has already surpassed his $1,100 goal.

Sintratec unveils the world’s first desktop laser sintering 3D printer

Swiss startup Sintratec has officially taken to Indiegogo to unveil its new desktop SLS 3D printer, the world’s first of its kind.


Earlier this year, Sintratec had announced that they were developing a new SLS 3D printer that would be priced in the ballpark of $5,000. Now, the startup has launched a crowdfunding initiative around their new device, whose early bird model will set you back just $4,000 — an amazing price when compared to similar printers. With the Sintratec 3D printer campaign up and running, the team hopes to sell about 60 ready-to-assemble units.


Based on an Atmel ATSAM3X8E, the SLS 3D printer will feature a build volume of 130x130x130mm, along with a 500W optical heater, a 2300mW, a 1200W heating coil and a chamber temperature of 150°C. In addition to the 32-bit Atmel | SMART MCU that comes packed with the startup’s own custom firmware, the Sintratec electronics will enable a wide-range of functionality including the ability to:

  • Drive each of the motors necessary for printing, as well as the scanner system and the laser.
  • Control the powder surface temperature using an optical heating system with infrared sensor feedback.
  • Command the chamber temperature using the heating coil with thermistor feedback
  • Run a composite-device mode via USB for communication with the Sintratec software. (At the same time, an SD-card on the electronics board is accessible to users as a mass storage device. For instance, you can store print-jobs on the SDcard for later use with different computers. Not to mention, once you have started a print, you can disconnect the USB.)


For those unfamiliar with selective laser sintering (SLS), this form of 3D printing uses a laser as the power source to solidify and bind a powdered material (typically metal) together by aiming the laser automatically at points in space defined by the required 3D model a user would like to create. In addition, unlike common 3D printers, this method does not require support structures.


As a result, Sintratec uses unsintered powder to build new layers on top of one another, which enables a Maker to print overhands, stacked objects, undercuts, hollow shapes and more — all with no additional support.

The desktop unit will print objects in a nylon called PA12 and can produce both functional prototypes and end products, including designs with moving parts.

Even better, the team writes, they are “actually printing with the same quality powder used by machines which cost over $200,000. It is extremely durable, strong and at the same time flexible enough to prevent brittleness. Because the powder is sintered together, the final parts have a high mechanical load capacity in all directions and are not suffering from the weak bond between layers as is the case with filament printed parts.”


Testament to the tremendous demand for the innovative machine, the team has garnered a number of awards such as 1st place (among 250 startups) at this year’s Swiss UpStart Challenge as well as an honorary mention by MAKE: Magazine as a printer to watch in 2015.

Those interested in learning more or backing this incredibly unique printer can head over to its official Indiegogo page here. With weeks remaining in the campaign, and having already attained 65% of its pledge goal, let’s just say we are quite optimistic! If all goes to plan, the team expects to begin shipping the first batch of machines mid-summer 2015.