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 with Fused Deposition Modeling, the part is traced layer-by-layer to gradually create the finished part.
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 used a laser to trace and solidify layers of powder polymers. This tech was then leased to DTM Inc to use, which was eventually sold to industrial 3D printer manufacturer 3D Systems.
Until recently, SLS 3D printers weren’t affordable for the consumer. However, with recent patents expiring and a renewed interest in 3D printing, several desktop SLS 3D printers have been developed.
But what is the best SLS 3D printer on the market today?
- 1 Best Desktop SLS 3D Printer:
- 2 Best Industrial SLS 3D Printer:
Best Desktop SLS 3D Printer:
Firstly, we have listed the desktop SLS 3D printers. These are defined as printers under $15,000 and are appropriate for more than just industrial SLS 3D printing.
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.
1. Sinterit Lisa
- SLS 3D printer price: €4,995.
- Company based: Poland.
- Print volume: 150 x 200 x 150 mm.
The Sinterit Lisa is a a low-cost, desktop SLS 3D 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 SLS 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 are ready to release the Sinterit Lisa 2 in the coming months. When it releases, we’ll be sure to compare the two models.
2. Sintratec Kit
- 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 set up. After successfully crowdfunding this SLS 3D printer back in 2014 – raising $213,337 of their original $175K goal – the printer was released to the world shortly after.
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 one of the cheapest printers on this list, retailing at €4,999.
3. 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 to come from a successful Kickstarter campaign, the VIT raised €292,680 from an original goal of €28,000 to receive funding for release. The VIT SLS 3D printer 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 SLS 3D printer. Though you could get yourself a VIT for $6,000 during the Kickstarter campaign, they now retail for $12,000.
4. Sintratec S1
- Price: $9,000.
- Company based: Switzerland.
- Print volume: 130 x 130 x 180 mm.
The second SLS 3D printer on this list by Sintratec, the S1 is the Swiss company’s plug & play SLS printer. The Sintratec S1 SLS 3D printer 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.
5. Formlabs Fuse 1
- 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.
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.
6. 3D Systems ProX SLS 500
- Price: $270,000.
- 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 500.
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, offering a build rate of 1.8l/h. Though an industrial SLS 3D printer and therefore very expensive, 3D Systems recently dropped the price by 30%, down to $270,000.
7. EOS Formiga P 110
- 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. 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.
- Price: $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.
9. 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 3D is currently only able to be used with Nylon PA12 but the Russian company plans to expand their product range through 2018.
10. XYZprinting MfgPro230 xS
- 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 as well as their MfgPro230 xS SLS 3D printer.
This professional SLS 3D 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.