Selective Laser Sintering is one of the main 3D printing technologies involved in 3D printing plastics. SLS 3D printing involves plastic polymer powders which are sintered using a laser inside the SLS 3D printer. As rapiwith Fused Deposition Modeling, the part is traced layer-by-layer to gradually create the finished part.
Introduction: A Short History of SLS Printing
Closely following Stereolithography as the second 3D printing technology ever invented, Selective Laser Sintering was theorized by Carl Deckard in 1988 who filed the patent whilst working at the University of Texas. Instead of using a UV light as with Stereolithography, SLS 3D printing involves powder 3D printers using a laser to trace and solidify layers of powder polymers.
Until recently, SLS 3D printers weren’t affordable for the consumer. However, with recent patents expiring and a renewed interest in 3D printing, several cheap SLS 3D printers have been developed.
But what is the best SLS 3D printer on the market today?
- You can also view our in-depth Selective Laser Sintering guide here.
Best Desktop / Cheap SLS 3D Printer: under $15,000
Firstly, we have listed the desktop SLS 3D printers. These are defined as printers under $15,000 and are appropriate for more consumer usage rather than industrial work. This absolutely isn’t cheap — but relative to how much SLS printers can cost, it is.
It is worth noting that we have not ordered these based on which is the best SLS 3D printer, but grouped our 10 best printers by price range and in no particular order.
- SLS 3D printer price: €5,995.
- Company based: Poland.
- Print volume: 150 x 200 x 150 mm.
The Sinterit Lisa is a a cheap SLS printer made by Polish manufacturer Sinterit. Compatible with the usual PA12 Nylon and Flexa black materials, the Sinterit Lisa offers an average printing volume for an SLS 3D printer at 150 x 200 x 150 mm.
The Sinterit Lisa is a precise powder 3D printer, with a layer thickness of 0.075-0.175mm. Moreover, it isn’t the most portable of printers, weighing in at 41kg. The Sinterit Lisa can be purchased for around €4,990, and comes with a 4 inch touch screen to control printing.
Though a very impressive machine, Sinterit have gone one step further and released the Sinterit Lisa Pro since. Though it’s more expensive at over €12,000, the printer has won a slew of awards and appears to be a success.
Sintratec Kit — Best DIY SLS 3D printer
- SLS 3D printer cost: €4,999.
- Company based: Switzerland.
- Print volume: 110 x 110 x 110 mm.
The Sintratec Kit is the only DIY 3D printer kit on this list, and is currently the only DIY SLS 3D printer for sale in the world! This is probably because selective laser sintering is far more complicated that methods such as fused deposition modeling, and is more difficult to build at home. After successfully crowdfunding this SLS 3D printer back in 2014 — raising $213,337 of their original $175K goal — the Sintratec DIY SLS printer kit has since had a full worldwide release.
With a modest 110 x 110 x 110 mm print volume, parts can be created as long as they are not too large. If you intend to print multiple parts simultaneously however, this may not be the machine for you. The SLS 3D printer kit takes around 4 days to put together, though Sintratec say it doesn’t require any specialist knowledge to assemble. You can easily connect to the printer via USB to print, and Sintratec sell their own plastic powder material at €149 for 2 liters.
If you want to try Selective Laser Sintering and don’t want to break the bank, the Sintratec Kit is also the cheapest SLS 3D printer out there, at just €4,999 — if you don’t mind building it yourself.
Natural Robotics VIT SLS 3D Printer
- Price: $12,000 ($6,000 during Kickstarter campaign).
- Company based: Spain.
- Print volume: 250 x 250 x 250 mm.
Natural Robotics are a Spanish 3D printing company who have previously created FDM 3D printers before launching their first SLS 3D printer, the VIT. Another SLS 3D printer Kickstarter campaign, the VIT raised €292,680 from an original goal of €28,000 to receive funding for release. The VIT features a 7 inch touch screen display for printing and display.
Offering a much larger print volume at 250 x 250 x 250 mm, the VIT SLS 3D printer is ideal for those who wish to create larger – or multiple – parts simultaneously. Moreover, with decent speed at 20 mm/s in addition to a Z axis resolution of 0.05mm, the VIT is a very accomplished printer. Though you could get yourself a VIT for $6,000 during the Kickstarter campaign, they now retail for $12,000.
- Price: $9,000.
- Company based: Switzerland.
- Print volume: 130 x 130 x 180 mm.
The second Sintratec printer on this list, the S1 is the Swiss company’s plug & play SLS printer. The Sintratec S1 offers a slightly larger print volume than the kit, at 130 x 130 x 180 mm (compared to the kit’s 110 x 110 x 110 mm).
As with most SLS 3D printers, the Sintratec S1 offers very good precision accuracy, at 100 microns. It’s also quite significantly heavier and therefore harder to move around than it’s kit form, weighing 67kg. Moreover, since it comes assembled to print right away, the Sintratec S1 is noticeably more expensive, retailing at around $9,000.
Formlabs Fuse 1 SLS 3D Printer
- Price: €12,000.
- Company based: USA.
- Print volume: 165 x 165 x 320 mm.
Formlabs are an American 3D printer manufacturer who have grown massively since starting up back in 2011. Since taking over desktop resin 3D printing, the Fuse 1 is Formlabs’ first foray into the SLS 3D printer market. Offering a speed of 10mm/s and a layer thickness of 100µm, the Fuse 1 SLS 3D printer is a good all-round printing solution.
The Fuse 1 can be connected via ethernet or WiFi, and has a very decent printing volume of 165 x 165 x 320 mm. The Fuse 1 is heavy however, weighing in at 88kg, so it’s not exactly easy to move around on a whim. Moreover, the Fuse 1 retails at around €12,000, more expensive than some printers on this list.
Sinterit Lisa Pro
- SLS 3D printer purchase price: $15,000 for the base model, around $17,500 for extras including powder sieve
- Company based: Poland
- Print volume: 150 x 200 x 260 mm (may be smaller maximum limit for some materials)
The Sinterit Lisa Pro is the upgraded version of Sinterit’s original desktop SLS printer, the Lisa. The Lisa Pro comes with a number of improvements, such as being more accurate: 0.05 mm vs 0.175-0.75 mm. This increase in precision builds noticeably smoother and more accurate powder parts which is very important in some industrial applications like prototype testing.
Despite the higher price tag — around $15,000 to get started — the Sinterit Lisa Pro is still a plug and play SLS 3D printer. You get their 3D slicer tool with the printer, Sinterit Studio 2019, and though Sinterit sell their own SLS printer powders, the Lisa Pro accepts third party powders.
Best Industrial SLS 3D Printer:
Most SLS 3D printers are out of budget for all but the most wealthy of consumers. This is because selective laser sintering is a less affordable method of 3D printing than technologies such as FDM. We therefore added a few of the highest-rated industrial SLS 3D printers for businesses and industrial manufacturers.
3D Systems ProX SLS 6100
- SLS 3D printer cost: in the hundreds of thousands
- Company based: USA
- Print volume: 381 x 330 x 460 mm
3D Systems are the original 3D printing firm, having been around since the mid-1980s when they commercialized stereolithography. They’ve since branched out into many other 3D printing technologies, including SLS 3D printers such as their ProX SLS 6100, taking over from the previous SLS 500 model since its release in late 2017.
- For more information on the history of 3D printing, check out our full feature story here.
This industrial SLS 3D printer offers a much larger build volume at 381 x 330 x 460 mm, as well as a layer thickness of between 0.08 and 0.15 mm. It’s also fairly speedy, and also versatile — it can print nylon powders with other materials filled, including metal powders like aluminium, or carbon fiber.
- SLS 3D printer purchase price: $30,000 for primary parts; extra for polishing station and other add-ons
- Company based: Switzerland
- Print volume: 160 x 160 x 400 mm
After the success of both the Sintratec S1 and the Sintratec Kit, the Swiss company have broadened their range with the more industrial Sintratec S2 SLS machine. It calls itself a ‘scalable compact system’ and features a Laser Sintering Station, Material Handling Station, Material Core Unit and other key parts that make this powder 3D printer a one stop shop for SLS printing.
One of the main benefits of the Sintratec S2 is its fantastic height — you can print up to 400 mm tall parts. This opens up new possibilities for taller Selective Laser Sintering plastic prototypes. It’s also double the speed of the Sintratec Kit, and accurate up to an astonishing 0.3 mm. It’s a huge machine however, so if you are looking to print parts in a small workshop, you need to seriously consider how viable this may be.
EOS Formiga P 110
- SLS 3D Printer Price: $175,000
- Company based: Germany
- Print volume: 200 x 250 x 330 mm
EOS are another major 3D printer manufacturer and a leader in SLS 3D printers, based in Germany. You can trust EOS; they’ve been in the SLS and DMLS 3D printer game since the beginning, and their excellent reputation precedes them. Their Formiga P 110 SLS 3D printer offers a decent build volume of 200 x 250 x 330 mm, as well as a varying layer thickness of 0.06/0.1/0.12 mm depending on the materials used.
Another fairly fast printer, the EOS Formiga P 110 offers a speed of 20 mm/h, and weighs approximately 600kg. This industrial SLS 3D printer doesn’t come cheap however, priced at around $175,000 currently.
- SLS 3D printer cost: $40,000 / €35,000
- Company based: Italy
- Print volume: 100 x 100 x 100 mm
Sharebot are an Italian 3D printer manufacturer who have developed an industrial SLS 3D printer called the SnowWhite. This professional SLS 3D printer is compatible with a variety of different SLS 3D printer powder options including PA12 (Nylon), PA11, TPU and more. The printer is designed to be as simple as possible to operate, automating much of the printing setup.
Despite being an industrial printer, the Sharebot SnowWhite has a fairly small print volume. At 100 x 100 x 100 mm, this is not ideal for manufacturing multiple parts simultaneously, and is therefore better served for R&D and rapid prototyping of single parts. The printer costs around $40,000, or €35,000.
Red Rock 3D
- Company based: Russia
- Price: Unknown
- Print volume: 180 x 180 x 180 mm
Red Rock are the only Russian 3D printer company on our list, bringing Eastern European technological know-how to SLS 3D printing. Their printer, the Red Rock 3D, is an SLS printer developed for rapid prototyping of functional parts.
With a fairly impressive print volume of 180 x 180 x 180 mm, the Red Rock 3D is perfect for batch production. With a printing speed of 20cm³/h, parts can be created fairly quickly to be tested for their effectiveness. The Red Rock powder 3D printer is currently only able to be used with Nylon PA12 but the Russian company plans to expand their product range through 2019.
XYZprinting MfgPro230 xS
- SLS 3D Printer Price: $60,000
- Company based: China
- Print volume: 230 x 230 x 230 mm
XYZprinting are a Chinese company who are mostly known for their incredible rise to dominance within desktop fused deposition modeling 3D printers. They however have expanded into other 3D printing technologies, selling an SLA 3D printer and a 3D scanner.
- XYZprinting are undoubtedly most well known for producing great cheap 3D printers. You can view our ranking of the best cheap 3D printers on our site here.
This professional SLS printer has printing dimensions of 230 x 230 x 230 mm, easily enough to printing multiple functional parts simultaneously. Able to fulfill professional quality demands, the printer has a minimum layer thickness of just 0.1mm. At $60,000, we expect this printer to shake up the industrial SLS printing industry upon release.