SLS 3D Printing: Materials Used

SLS 3D printed colored parts

Cost optimization, improved productivity, high definition printing, great freedom of design… these are some of the advantages of SLS (selective laser sintering) 3D printing. But, did you know that, by working with laser sintering printing equipment of the “open” type, Solaxis provides great freedom in the choice of materials used? This opens the door to the production of various types of parts, regardless of the sector of activity. Discover the properties of the materials that can be used for SLS 3D printing and start planning the production of your next parts!

Advanced Materials for Various Applications

Although many materials can be used for designing parts with SLS 3D printing, all have a common characteristic: they are easily shaped. Through systematization, the use of the following thermoplastics makes it possible to print parts with complex geometries, in a reproducible manner, whether it is about designing a prototype or answering production challenges.

 

Polypropylene

A common thermoplastic used in injection molding, polypropylene is also a material of choice for SLS 3D printing. In fact, it stands out for its characteristics: 

  • Excellent chemical resistance
  • Relatively high ductility
  • High rigidity
  • High elongation at break (about 30%)
  • Low moisture absorption
  • Relatively low cost
  • Recycling rate of approximately 60%

Thanks to its properties, polypropylene is a great material for manufacturing parts such as tools or industrial equipment, ventilation ducts or containers dedicated to the storage of various products, especially chemicals. 

At Solaxis, we print various parts in polypropylene, especially for the healthcare, automotive, and specialized transport sectors. 

 

PA 11 Nylon

Nylon PA 11 makes it possible to design parts manufactured by SLS 3D printing with the following specificities:

  • Robust and durable
  • Impact resistance
  • Elongation
  • High elongation at break (45%) 
  • Biocompatibility

Nylon PA 11 is therefore recommended for the design of critical parts, that is those frequently subjected to significant physical stresses. We prefer this material for the SLS 3D printing of medical equipment, automotive parts, or various components used in the defence and security sector.

PA 11 material for SLS 3D printing

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PA 11 CF Nylon (Carbon-filled)

Loaded with carbon fiber, Nylon 11 gives SLS-printed parts exceptional mechanical properties:

  • Tensile strength: for example, while the tensile strength is 28 MPa for polypropylene, 45 MPa for PA 11 Nylon, it is 71 MPa for PA 11 CF Nylon.
  • Deflection temperature under load of 189 °C at 0.45 MPa versus 176 °C for PA 11 Nylon and 102 °C for polypropylene under similar conditions.
  • High strength to weight ratio.

PA 11 CF Nylon is an excellent material for manufacturing parts that must present outstanding rigidity and solidity. Among others, we take advantage of the properties of this thermoplastic when it comes to designing automotive parts or components for sports equipment (cycling) using SLS additive manufacturing.

 

PA 11 ESD Nylon

Although PA 11 ESD Nylon obviously has characteristics similar to PA 11 Nylon (high tensile strength, important elongation), it also stands out for its specific properties:

  • Low electrical resistivity
  • Resistance to electrostatic discharge

Thus, this thermoplastic offers a multitude of possibilities for the electronics sector. To this end, in recent months, we have also completed various mandates focused on SLS additive manufacturing of electronic casings. ESD-safe materials, such as PA 11 ESD, are mainly used in electronics manufacturing, where thousands of electronic components are produced every day, requiring various components, jigs, tooling and custom fixtures.

SLS 3D printing allows the use of many materials with various characteristics. The manufactured parts can therefore meet mechanical, physical and/or aesthetic requirements as well. As a result, SLS 3D printing finds its place in different sectors of activity.

You want to produce parts using SLS 3D printing, but you don't know which material to use? Ask our experts for advice. Contact us!

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