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Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D Printing Service

SLS 3D printed part | Stratasys Direct

What Is Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)?

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is a 3D printing process that uses a bed of thermoplastic powder and a laser to create prototypes and functional end-use parts for a wide variety of applications. SLS creates tough and geometrically complex components for batch or serial manufacturing in a wide variety of applications from serialized aerospace production parts to prototypes in consumer applications. SLS provides parts that are strong, heat resistant, and repeatable. SLS was one of the earliest 3D printing processes to be adopted into end-use part production, taking to the skies through aerospace ducting production parts. 

Prototypes to Production Parts with SLS

This robust process can build parts for all stages of the production lifecycle from prototyping to low-volume manufacturing opportunities, oftentimes in place of conventional manufacturing or as a bridge to production. 

SLS builds robust parts with a wide range of filled nylon materials, making it an ideal process for applications such as duct work, fuel tanks, and brackets, as well as functional prototyping. SLS doesn't require labor to remove support structures as a simple shake of the part will remove the unused thermoplastic powder, enabling true zero-cost complexities in design.


SLS 3d printed remote control car Stratasys Direct

How Does Selective Laser Sintering Work?

SLS (Monikers: Powder bed fusion, LS, plastic laser sintering) builds with a CO₂ laser that melts cross-sections of a CAD design in powdered material.

The CAD model is oriented in space alongside copies of itself or other geometries. The software will then create thousands of layers that make up the 3D objects contained within the build chamber. These layers contain information to tell the equipment where the laser needs to melt material. 

Laser sintering begins by heating its internal build chamber to just below the melting point of the powdered plastic. There is a large chamber of thermoplastic powder, which a recoater blade moves across the top surface to create a very flat surface. A CO₂ laser traces areas of the specified layer where there needed. Once the layer has been melted, the z-stage of the machine will drop slightly allowing the recoater blade to add a very thin layer of material on top of the previously melted layer. Then the laser will trace the areas it needs to melt on this layer, and the process is repeated 100's to thousands of times to create a 3D object.

Once the parts are done building, the powder and the parts need to cool. Once they are ready to be removed, printed parts simply need a little shake or shot with an air hose to remove the support. Much of the support (powder) can be recycled for use in future builds.

Our quality systems ensure consistent handling and recycling of materials along with machine maintenance and process control limits. This provides material traceability, mechanical property verification, dimensional and other performance criteria checks to ensure the parts we deliver meet customer specifications repeatedly.

Selective Laser Sintering ECS Ducting

What SLS applications can I make? 

SLS is probably best known for making parts in the ducting arena such as those used in aircraft. It also excels at creating mutiples of a single geometry, low level production. Applications where there will be pressure, or even fuels commonly use SLS. A small list of other applications seen in SLS:

  • Complex ductwork
  • Snap fit designs
  • Living hinges
  • Thin walled components
  • Fire retardant parts
  • Under-hood components
  • Aerospace production parts

Selective Laser Sintering Materials

SDM Material

Nylon 11 EX

Next generation Nylon 11 with the elongation and impact strength of the original but with better surface finish and feature definition

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SDM Material

Nylon 11 FR

Flame, smoke & toxicity (FST) certified Nylon 11 per FAR 25.853

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SDM Material

Nylon 11

Original high elongation and impact strength SLS material specified in many aerospace products

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SDM Material

Nylon 12 PA (SLS)

General purpose Nylon 12 with good surface finish and feature definition with less deformation than Nylon 11

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SDM Material

Nylon 12 FR

Flame, smoke & toxicity (FST) certified Nylon 12 per FAR 25.853

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SDM Material

Nylon 12 GF

Glass-filled Nylon 12 with higher tensile modulus & HDT

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SDM Material

Nylon 12 CF

Electrostatically dissipative with high strength-to-weight ratio

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SDM Material

Nylon 12 HST

High strength and high temperature mineral fiber-filled plastic

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SDM Material

Nylon 12 AF

Aluminum-filled Nylon 12 for the appearance of aluminum; also has electrostatic dissipative properties

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Selective Laser Sintering Applications

Selective Laser Sintering Production Parts

Production Parts

SLS production parts can be strong, water and air-tight and made out of engineering-grade thermoplastics.

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Selective Laser Sintering Functional Prototyping

Functional Prototyping

SLS is an ideal technology for complex components needed in functional prototyping.

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Selective Laser Sintering ECS Ducting

ECS Ducting

SLS produces strong, complex ducts with interior features using FST-rated materials with superior heat resistance.

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Selective Laster Sintering printed part | Stratasys Direct

Trusted Precision with Selective Laser Sintering

Making a precision SLS part takes more than just a machine. It takes process controls, quality audits, registration (ISO9001, AS9100, and ITAR), and the responsive team behind the technology working to validate the materials and processes. Our team of engineers won’t rest until your requirements are met for precise part manufacturing and success. 

Selective Laser Sintering Experience in Your Corner

With 30 years in the manufacturing business means we have the technical know-how, experience, processes, and capabilities to serve those in any stage of the development or production stage of manufacturing.

General questions? Engineering questions? Need help with your design?

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SLS 3D Printing at Stratasys Direct

Frequently Asked Questions About Selective Laser Sintering

What geometries are best suited for SLS?

SLS is ideal for components with extremely complex geometries, including parts with internal cavities.

Parts that are produced with SLS remain encased in powdered material, which is self-supporting thereby eliminating the need for additional supportive structures on or within the components.

What level of detail can be obtained with SLS?

Selective Laser Sintering can produce a layer thickness of 0.004”- 0.006” and an X/Y resolution of 0.030” – 0.050”. We recommend all SLS parts have a minimum wall thickness of 0.040”.

See the SLS design guidelines for more details.

What is the largest part size you can make with SLS?

The build platform for our largest SLS machine is 26.5”x13.5”x20”. Parts that exceed those dimensions can be built in sections and bonded.

Bonding lines introduce a degree of consistency in regard to mechanical performance.

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