Behind the scenes: Selective Laser Sintering
We want to take you behind the scenes in our Design Lab, so we talked to Tim Flügge von Danwitz to show you how some of our processes work.
This time, we’re exploring how Tim makes prototypes for our customers – from cups to glass-racks – in the fastest way possible.
“Selective laser sintering might sound like something from a sci-fi movie, but it is actually one of our most reliable processes when it comes to creating our models”, said Tim.
Simply put, SLS is a method of 3D printing that turns digital design into three-dimensional objects, mimicking synthetics in look and feel.
Tell me more Tim!
Look very closely and you might see the tiny particles of plastic, ceramic or glass being fused together by heat that emits from a high-powered laser.
Fusing is a delicate and repetitive process. From an initial laser, the machine drops a miniscule amount (usually around 0.1mm) to create a new layer, which the laser traces and fuses again.
On and on this goes, until the entire object is printed and ready to use.
Although 3D printing seems like a relatively new technology, the SLS process was actually developed in the ‘80s by mechanical engineers Carl Deckard and Joe Beaman.
And the process of sintering has actually been around for thousands of years, used to create everything from everyday objects to porcelain and jewelry.
Why use SLS?
“We all know that SPIRIANT customers come to us for our mixture of innovation and efficiency. But this can also mean sometimes they need a prototype, fast! With SLS make sure we’re giving our customers top quality and a quick turnaround in equal measure”.
This method is really useful for an industry like ours, where we need to create a small quantity of high quality objects, that feel as close to the real thing as possible. Even the manufacturers of airplane parts might use SLS, in order to build molds that won’t be damaged or corroded in storage.
Last year, the Beijing University of Aeronautics and Astronautics demonstrated how 3D printing might even be able to create bigger parts – by using a titanium based selective laser sintering 3D printing technology!
So, from the SPIRIANT cup or tray set to Beijing Universities’ large-scale cockpit controls, SLS has an impact on our industry.
Watch out for more interviews with our Design & Product experts and let us know what you found interesting!