Table of contents
- What desktop SLS 3D printers are available on the market?
- The best desktop SLS 3D printers for professionals
- What is SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) technology?
- Overview of the best desktop SLS printers
- Compact industrial-grade SLS 3D printers: our picks
- Benefits and limits of SLS 3D printing
- SLS vs FDM vs SLA
- SLS 3D printing: what materials are available?
What desktop SLS 3D printers are available on the market?
SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) is a 3D printing technology that uses a laser beam to sinter powdered material. This technique enables the 3D printing of detailed functional parts and prototypes.
Five to ten years ago, SLS technology was exclusive to large, industrial additive manufacturing systems. In recent years, a more compact SLS 3D printer niche has been slowly emerging, with lower prices and office-friendly formats.
Starting at around $6,000, these benchtop or desktop SLS 3D printers enable SMEs to access accurate and advanced in-house prototyping without having to rely on external 3D printing services. They are able to print with powder materials such as Nylon, TPU, and other thermoplastics.
In this guide, we take a closer look at which desktop SLS printers are available on the market from brands like Sintratec, Sinterit, and WeMatter.
The best desktop SLS 3D printers for professionals
|3D printer||Build volume||Country||Price*||Buy|
|Sinterit Lisa||150 x 200 x 150 mm||Poland||€5,990||Quote|
|Sinterit Lisa Pro||150 x 200 x 260 mm||Poland||€11,990||Quote|
|Sintratec Kit||130 x 130 x 130 mm||Switzerland||€4,990||Quote|
|Formlabs Fuse 1||165 x 165 x 320 mm||United States||$9,999||Quote|
|Natural Robotics VIT SLS||250 x 250 x 300 mm||Spain||$12,900||Quote|
|RED ROCK 3D RED ROCK||180 x 180 x 180 mm||Russia||-||Quote|
*Price: These prices are subject to change over time and/or from one country to another.
What is SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) technology?
How does Selective Laser Sintering work?
This technology uses a laser to sinter powdered material. In other words, a powerful laser beam selectively melts and fuses tiny powder particles together.
Once a layer is finished, more powder is rolled and spread onto the print bed. The process repeats itself layer after layer. The excess powder stays in the powder bed, thus automatically providing support for the object and its intricacies (though supports are still needed when it comes to metal 3D printing).
When the 3D printing process is finished and the powder bed has cooled down, the objects can be removed. Excess powder material is then to be brushed off to reveal the final part. Aside from powder removal, the parts require little to no post-processing for basic applications.
SLS 3D printing technology.
Overview of the best desktop SLS printers
- Build volume: 150 x 200 x 150 mm
- Dimensions: 620 x 400 x 660 mm
- Weight: 41 kg
- Country: Poland
- Price: €5,990
This 3D printer offers a relatively large build volume for a desktop 3D printer, and even more so for an SLS 3D printer in this price range. With the Lisa it is possible to 3D print flexible material (Flexa Black/Grey) or rigid, strong material (PA12).
More information: Sinterit Lisa
Sinterit Lisa Pro
- Build volume: 150 x 200 x 260 mm
- Dimensions: 690 x 500 x 880 mm
- Weight: 90 kg
- Country: Poland
- Price: €11,990
The Lisa Pro SLS printer also provides a bigger print volume as well as a larger touchscreen than the Lisa.
More information: Sinterit Lisa Pro
Our review at Sinterit headquarters: Sinterit Lisa Pro review
- Build volume: 110 x 110 x 110 mm
- Dimensions: 600 x 520 x 380 mm
- Weight: 28 kg
- Country: Switzerland
- Price: €4,990
The Kit requires around four days of assembly. Users can freely adjust the laser’s height, speed, and temperature in order to try out different materials.
More information: Sintratec Kit
Formlabs Fuse 1
- Build volume: 165 x 165 x 320 mm
- Dimensions: 677 x 668 x 1059 mm
- Weight: 88 kg
- Country: United States
- Price: $9,999
Formlabs, originally an SLA 3D printer manufacturer, introduced the Fuse 1, an SLS 3D printer to be released in the future. Due to its weight and dimensions, the Fuse 1 is considered a benchtop SLS 3D printer rather than a desktop 3D printer.
A live-feed offers insight on 3D printing progress thanks to the Fuse 1’s integrated webcam. It is also possible to add parts to a build that has already started.
More information: Formlabs Fuse 1
Natural Robotics VIT SLS
- Build volume: 250 x 250 x 300 mm
- Hardware dimensions: 800 x 600 x 950 mm
- Weight: –
- Country: Spain
- Price: $12,900
The VIT SLS offers a relatively large build volume compared to the other 3D printers in this range. A 7-inch touchscreen offers a friendly user experience, and Wi-Fi connectivity enables standalone 3D printing.
Users can 3D print with generic material thanks to a full access to system calibration, although the VIT SLS is optimized for PA12.
More information: Natural Robotics VIT SLS
RED ROCK 3D RED ROCK
- Build volume: 180 x 180 x 180 mm
- Hardware dimensions: 800 x 430 x 770 mm
- Weight: 35 kg
- Country: Russia
- Price: –
RED ROCK 3D is a new 3D printer manufacturer from Russia. Its RED ROCK SLS 3D printer offers a relatively large build volume compared to most of the other desktop SLS 3D printers in this selection.
Little information about this SLS 3D printer is available on the RED ROCK 3D website, which hasn’t been updated in a while (as of September 2020).
More information: RED ROCK 3D
Compact industrial-grade SLS 3D printers: our picks
- Build volume: 300 x 300 x 300 mm
- Dimensions: 1700 x 750 x 600 mm
- Weight: –
- Country: Sweden
- Price: €15,000
Wematter’s cloud-based slicing software automatically optimizes the build area, packing parts efficiently and as close together as possible thanks to advanced algorithms.
More information: Wematter Gravity
- Build volume: ⌀ 160 x 400 mm
- Dimensions: 1500 × 1100 × 750 mm
- Weight: 72.5 kg
- Country: Switzerland
- Price: €32,995
Optional stations include a blasting station, vortex unit, and a polishing station, enabling easier part post-processing.
More information: Sintratec S2
XYZPrinting MfgPro230 xS
- Build volume: 230 x 230 x 230 mm
- Dimensions: 1460 × 1890 × 740 mm
- Weight: 310 kg
- Country: China
- Price: $60,000
The MfgPro230 xS is an open-source system, meaning that its powerful 30W CO2 can print with any powder that’s available on the market. Hence, users can experiment with different types of Nylons and TPU materials, and even light-colored ones, which is not the case with entry-level SLS printers.
More information: XYZPrinting MfgPro230 xS
Benefits and limits of SLS 3D printing
Main benefits of SLS 3D printing
No need for support: 3D printing complex and functional parts
Since unused powder remains in the powder bed, it naturally acts as support for the following sintered layers. This support, which is present all over, allows the 3D printing of very complex and/or functional parts and prototypes.
It is possible to re-use powder that has not been sintered. This significantly reduces material waste and costs compared to other 3D printing techniques. Also, no material is wasted on support structures.
Main limitations of powder SLS 3D printing
Just like any technology, SLS 3D printing has its downsides.
SLS 3D printed objects are porous, though it is possible to apply sealant to alter their sandy, granular-like surfaces.
The price for one kilogram of PA12 powder can range from around $55 to about $180.
Logistics and post-processing
Due to the volatile nature of powder, extra caution is required when handling the material and taking the final 3D print out of the powder bed. The prints must be depowdered; either manually, which is time-consuming, or with a dedicated powder removal solution.
Multiple layers of parts to be 3D printed with SLS technology.
SLS vs FDM vs SLA
SLS vs FDM (FFF)
Compared to Fused Filament Fabrication, SLS can:
- achieve higher quality prints
- provide thinner layers and wall thicknesses
- generate complex 3D prints without the need for support
However, Selective Laser Sintering 3D printers offer much less material choice (and colors).
SLS vs SLA
Compared to stereolithography 3D printing technology, Selective Laser sintering offers:
- thinner wall thicknesses
- complex 3D prints without support structures
That being said, SLS 3D prints have rougher surfaces than SLA 3D prints.
Sinterit’s 3D printing technologies comparison.
SLS 3D printing: what materials are available?
Main desktop SLS 3D printing powders
Most desktop SLS 3D printers use Polyamide (PA) powdered material, also known as Nylon. The main PA powders available on the market are:
- Nylon PA12
- Nylon PA11
Then, there are composite or “charged” powders, meaning that different materials are mixed with PA. The most common are the following:
- Alumide: PA mixed with aluminum (shiny, metallic appearance)
- Carbonamide: PA reinforced with carbon fiber (stiff and lightweight)
- Nylon 3200: PA filled with glass (more chemical and heat resistant than PA12)
There is also PEBA 2031, a flexible, rubbery and resistant plastic powder. Some manufacturers produce elastic 3D printing powders (such as Sinterit’s Flexa Black and Flexa Grey) to 3D print shock absorbers, clothing parts, bellows, etc.
Nylon SLS 3D printing material
Nylon, or Polyamide (PA), is the most common powdered material used by SLS 3D printers. It boasts many interesting characteristics:
- Lightweight: Polyamide is a lightweight 3D printing material.
- Robust: this material can bear loads or be used for mechanical parts.
- Flexible: Nylon can bend and come back to its original form.
- Resistance: PA offers good heat and chemical resistance.
Manufacturers generally sell their own, branded powder material.
SLS 3D printing in general
Desktop SLS printers are limited to plastics when it comes to material choice. However, when using larger, more expensive powder industrial 3D printers, it is possible to 3D print metal powder. Some industrial SLS 3D printers are also able to 3D print ceramics.
Sintratec’s PA12 powder.