One of the biggest advantages of SLS 3D printing is that the process do not require using supports. So that gives wide options of elements geometry and also big freedom if it is about parts orientation during building process. But that is not all.
Selective Laser Sintering allows to develop parts from several kinds of powders. The most common are PA12 and PA11 – even though different producers use their own names – the most powders are still based on those two. In traditional manufacturing (and even in other 3D printing technologies as well) delivering in the one process parts that are multipart or multi element is still difficult and costly. I.e. it is almost impossible to gain chain-like structure or netting-like one, using injection molding or CNC. But it is more than easy and almost typically with SLS.
NO GEOMETRY LIMTS
That is not a joke of overstatement – SLS gives large design freedom and almost no geometry limitation. When designing CAD models for SLS you do not need to be worried that some kind of shapes or multi elements may be too complicated or impossible to made in SLS. Just design exactly what you need. It is the same when speaking about moving joints, like gears, bars, loops or functional tools.
So here we have got the only one SLS technology limitation – the walls thickness. It should not be lower than 0,5 mm and that dimension is same in all producers guidelines. But on the other hand you may print object with different wall thickness in specified areas of parts and elements. What does it mean? Look at the image below: here we have one, big element. But when we look closer we can see that external walls of this part are much thicker than the internal one. And all of that is easy to get in one process – all depends on CAD model and device settings.
But even more – in one printing process you can get several same shapes but all of them with little different wall thickness. Why is that so great? Because it allows to check quickly every design assumptions but in different final part properties.
FAST AND VARIETY
The volume of production in SLS limits only the building chamber space. If you usually deliver small parts or not in high quantity – SLS 3D printer with too big building chamber may get the process more expensive – you will need more powder and the loses of it will be also bigger. But there is always an option that one day you will need to produce low amount but in bigger size and in this case your smaller SLS will not be able to process that. This was why we designed our SLS with building chamber of changeable dimensions – so it can by smaller or bigger, depends of current production needs.
But anyway, if you use smaller or bigger building volume, there is one great thing in SLS technology. You can produce many different parts together, in the same time. That can be i.e. components of one device or tool – all of them at once. So that should made one effect – final and irreversible change in thinking about the production steps and schedules. The parts from SLS are in fact fully functional and can be used for prototypes and small series production.