SLS (Selective Laser Sintering): 3D Printing Powder-based Process


Selective Laser Sintering is an Additive Manufacturing method that uses a powder bed fusion process to build 3D parts.

Powdered polymer build material, typically nylon, is transferred from containers holding fresh powder onto the build stage in the process chamber with a recoating tool. A laser then selectively scans the thin layer of powder, sintering together powder particles in the shape of the cross-section of the first layer of the 3D part. The build platform then descends one layer depth and the recoater transfers more fresh powder from the hopper to the surface of the first layer. Just like the first layer, the second cross-section of the 3D model is scanned and sintered. The laser scanning process simultaneously generates the current layer and adjoins it to the previous layer, making a solid part.

Compared to other additive manufacturing processes such as stereolithography (SLA) and Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) or Fused Filament Fabrication (FFF), SLS does not require support structures since the powder acts as self supporting material. This allows intricate and complex geometries to be constructed.

The applications for this 3D printing process are designs with moving parts, prototypes, consumer products, architectural models, hardware, electronics housing, sculptures, promotional items and more.

FDM and SLS technologies are often used for the same kind of printing, if you want to know which one is best suited for your need, have a look to our comparision FDM vs. SLS.

3D Systems sPro 230 EOS Formiga P110 EOS INT P760
One of 5 printers in the Production line of SLS 3D printers.
3D Systems sPro 230
One of 4 plastic SLS 3D printers from EOS.
EOS Formiga P110
One of 4 plastic SLS 3D printers from EOS.

For more information about the 3D printers, please check out our Guide to Professional 3D Printers .

For more information on this and other 3D printing techniques, we invite you to consult our 3D printing techniques pages.