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Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D Printing

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Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D Printing

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a powder-based additive technology used to create models, prototypes, and end-use parts in durable, engineering-grade thermoplastics, glass, metal, and ceramics. SLS technology should be considered for applications that require high-complexity, organic geometries, and durability. SLS nests in the Z-direction, which allows for short-run production and efficient builds. This technology is also capable of producing parts with finer details than most other additive processes that use high-strength plastics. SLS supports isotropic composition, ensuring the strength and durability of the part, no matter the print orientation or orientation when in use.

SLS Parts in As Soon As Two-Days / / Get A Quote

How does SLS Technology Work?

SLS uses a blade to spread a thin layer of powder over the build platform. A laser is used to sinter or fuse a cross-section of the part together. The build platform then drops one layer and the process begins again until the part is finished. Parts are then excavated from the build powder-cake. Excess powder is removed and can be reused. The powder also acts as support structures, eliminating the need for extra support structures that would then have to be removed in post processing.

SLS 3D Printed Parts and Images / /


SLS Materials Available / /

Here is a list of materials available for SLS printing with Fathom. Additional materials are available upon request. Not sure what you need? Talk to a Fathom expert today!

TPU 88A 2+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 320mm x 320mm x 610mm 1mm Standard Color: White
Medium/High Resolution
High Detail and Complexity
Dye Available (Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow, and Pink)
High Elasticity, Rebound and Resistance to Fatigue
Water-Tight Down to 0.6mm Wall Thickness
High Burst Pressure
True Thermoplastic Polyurethane With Excellent Flexibility and Durability
Nylon PA12 (White) 2+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 320mm x 320mm x 610mm 1mm Standard Color: White
Medium/High Resolution
High Detail and Complexity
Dye Available (Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow, and Pink)
Nearly Isotropic
Parts Built Without Supports, Allowing for Complex Geometries
Durable Production Quality Thermoplastic
PA 12 Glass Bead 3+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 320mm x 320mm x 610mm 1mm Standard Color: Off White
Medium/High Resolution
High Detail and Complexity
Dye Available** (Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow, and Pink)
High Rigidity
Resistant To Wear and Tear
Thermally Resilient
PA 11 3+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 320mm x 320mm x 610mm 1mm Standard Color: White
Medium/High Resolution
High Detail and Complexity
Dye Available (Black, Red, Blue, Green, Orange, Yellow, and Pink)
High Impact Resistance and Elongation At Break
Higher Temperature Resistance Than PA 12
Does Not Splinter Under Load
PA 11 Fire Retardant 4+ Days Prototypes, Low-Volume, Short-Run Production 320mm x 320mm x 610mm 1mm Standard Color: White High Ductility Combined With Strength
Flame-Retardant Properties Are Similar To ULTEMTM Filament

*Geometry Dependent
**Filled Nylons Can Have Inconsistent Color When Dyed

Nylon is the most common SLS material. Its strength and flexibility make it a popular choice for a wide variety of uses. Polyamide is another common material used in SLS printing. Polyamide is strong, flexible, impact-resistant, abrasion-resistant, and biocompatible. Carbon-filled Nylon is available upon request. Talk to a Fathom expert to learn more!

SLS Parts in As Soon As Two-Days / / Get A Quote

AMT PostPro3D Finishing / /

AMT’s PostPro3D technology is a smart and automated post-processing solution for smoothing SLS printed parts. PostPro3D can achieve a high quality surface finish that matches injection molding techniques when using 3D printing processes. This reduces lead-time, cost of manufacture, operational and maintenance costs while providing the ‘missing piece’ in the digital manufacturing chain. The PostPro3D machine makes 3D part surface finishing speed and cost competitive for high volume production. 

Talk to an expert at Fathom today to take your parts to the next level using AMT PostPro3D for post processing.

Applications of SLS 3D Printing / /

Designers and engineers across numerous industries have used SLS printing in their product development process. While SLS can be used for prototyping, it is also ideal for producing functional parts, testing parts, and production parts. Applications of SLS include //

  • Consumer Goods //SLS 3D printing has been used for consumer goods in the medical, footwear, and beauty industries.
  • Sports //SLS has been used by motorsports companies to innovate vehicle design and increase performance.
  • Aerospace // Airline companies are incorporating lightweight SLS 3D parts on their aircraft including air vent grills and other cabin components.
  • Tooling Production // Jigs, Fixtures & Other Tooling
  • Snap Fits and Living Hinges
  • Housings

Advantages of SLS 3D Printing / /

The benefits of SLS include //

  • Functional Parts & Prototypes
  • No Support Material Needed
  • Fast Process
  • Parts With Complex Geometries
  • Good For Small To Medium Batches
  • Good Isotropic Mechanical Properties
  • Great For Layer Adhesion
  • Reuse Unused Material
  • Dye Different Colors

What is the Difference Between SLS & SLA?

Stereolithography (SLA) and Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) are both additive manufacturing processes. SLA is a 3D printing method using a thermoplastic resin that is cured with a UV laser. SLA uses a resin bath where as SLS uses a powder bed. With SLA, a laser traces a design onto the surface of the resin bath. Any resin touched by the laser will cure and create a solid pattern. The build platform is then lowered further into the resin bath and the process starts again. SLA is popular because it can print parts with greater precision than traditional Fuse Deposition Modeling (FDM) machines. SLS, like SLA, also uses a laser. However, with SLS, the laser is used to melt, sinter, or fuse together particles. The laser is fired into a bed of powder. After the first layer is fused, the build platform will be lowered, filled with more powder, and the process will start again. SLS printers can be used for plastic, metal, and ceramics parts. SLA printers will only produce parts made of plastic. SLS printers can manufacturer complex parts with out the use of support structures. The unused powder on the build platform around the part provides support. Other 3D printing technologies, including SLA, require separate support structures that will need to be removed with post processing.

SLS machines use a very powerful laser to fuse the powdered material. This powerful laser requires extra safety precautions. SLS printers are entirely encased, blocking the view of the part as it is printed. SLA machines use a much less powerful UV laser. These machines are typically enclosed in tinted glass or plastic, which allows the operator to view the part as it is built. SLS printers use a powder material that is non toxic and easy to handle. SLA printers use a bath of plastic resins, some of which may be toxic. Objects made by SLA machines are complex and detailed but can be brittle. SLS parts are not as detailed but still complex and are considered suitable for mechanical use, matching the quality and durability of injection molded items. Some SLS parts can be nearly isotropic.

SLS vs. SLM / /

Selective Laser Melting (SLM), sometimes referred to as Direct Metal Laser Melting (DMLM), uses a laser to melt metallic powders in successive layers. The machine fully melts the powder before another bed of powder is added above the melted layer. SLM causes the metal granules to melt together to fully form one homogeneous piece. The primary difference between SLM and SLS is the material used for each process. SLM is used exclusively for metal alloys. SLS printing can use metal as well as plastics, glass, and ceramics.

Selective Laser Sintering FAQs / /

Q // Should SLS Only Be Used For Prototypes?

A //No. SLS parts can be used to manufacture production parts.

Q // What Terms Are Interchangeably Used For Selective Laser Sintering?

A // While selective laser sintering (SLS) is its own unique process, other terms used include 3D printing, SLS manufacturing, SLS prototyping, 3D prototyping, additive manufacturing, rapid prototyping, laser sintering and more.

Q // Is SLS Better Suited For A Certain Stage Of Product Development?

A // SLS is suitable for any stage of product development, from a functional prototype, to a single-use part, to creating operational pieces.

Q //Who invented SLS?

A // The SLS concept was originally created in the 1980s by Dr. Carl Deckard and Dr. Joe Beaman from the University of Texas. The process was patented in 1988. In 1992, the first industrial SLS printer (DTM Sinterstation 2000) was commercialized. The EOSINT P350 by EOS was launched in 1994.

Why Choose Fathom’s SLS 3D Printing Capabilities?

SLS has become popular among designers and engineers for many reasons. SLS allows for higher productivity, lower cost per part, and better design flexibility.

  • Higher Productivity //Multiple parts can be produced at the same time, which maximizes the build space. The laser used during SLS has a quick scanning speed, faster than other processes. Additional parts can be added to the build while it is already in production.
  • Lower Cost Per Part //Nylon is the most common material to use for SLS printing and it is one of the least expensive when used in larger quantities. There are additional cost savings since the leftover powder can be reused, support structures are not required, and post-processing in SLS is less labor intensive.
  • Design Flexibility //SLS offers the opportunity to produce parts with complex geometries, moving parts, and pieces with interior components since this technology does not require support structures. SLS is also capable of printing parts that may require multiple elements in a single unit. This capability improves the design, saves time, and yields a lightweight, ready-to-use part.

Get an SLS 3D Printing Quote / /

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1050 Walnut Ridge Drive
Hartland, WI 53029
ISO 9001:2015


444 W. 21st St. Ste. 101
Tempe, AZ 85282
ISO 9001:2015
NIST800-171 Compliant


7770 Washington St.
Denver, CO 80229
ISO 9001:2015


13758 Johnson Street NE
Ham Lake, MN 55304


1801 Rowe Lane
Pflugerville, TX 78660
ISO 9001:2015

1513 Sam Bass Rd
Round Rock, TX 78681
ISO 9001:2015
ISO 13485:2016


46758 Lakeview Blvd,
Fremont, CA 94538
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified
NIST 800-171 Compliant


14000 N.W. 58th Court
Miami Lakes, FL 33014


1920 Slaterville Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850

401 W. Shore Blvd.
Newark, NY 14513
ISO 9001:2015


1207 Adams Drive
McHenry, IL 60051
ISO 9001:2015

1401 Brummel Ave
Elk Grove, IL 60007
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified

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