Laser Sintering (LS)

Laser Sintering (LS), also known as Selective Laser Sintering, is an industrial additive manufacturing process that uses powdered thermoplastics (typically nylon) precisely fused by a high-powered laser.  The prototypes or parts can be produced as fast as one day and are cleaned of excess powder and ready for use or a higher level of finishing.    

Laser Sintering can be used to create challenging, geometrically complex components for manufacturing. Following vapor smoothing, these production parts are water-tight, air-tight, heat resistant, strong, and easy to reproduce. Nylon also can produce living hinges and flexible end-use parts and can be easily dyed in various colors. Parts made by Laser Sintering can be found in airplanes, automobiles, consumer products, and in the medical and science industries.  

Laser Sintering Diagram

Table of Contents

How Does Laser Sintering work?

We input your CAD file into the machine, and the software breaks it down layer by layer. In an enclosed chamber that is heated to just below the material’s melting point, the CO2 laser draws each layer of the part onto the powder bed, fusing the material. When the laser finishes, a roller rolls a new layer of powder onto the powder bed, and the process is repeated until the parts are complete.  

After the build is finished, the whole powder bed is removed and taken to a breakout station where the parts are manually removed from the powder, and excess powder brushed off. Then they are placed into a container and blasted with a blasting medium to remove the remaining powder.  After this step is complete, they are sent to the finishing department.  

Note: Laser Sintering does not need support structures.  

What are the ideal applications for Laser Sintering?

  • Prototypes and end-use parts that have similar mechanical properties to injection molded parts
  • Laser Sintering components in serial batches are more cost-effective compared to injection molding
  • It is used to consolidate complex geometries and for complex internal geometries 
  • It is excellent for parts that need high strength and stiffness, chemical resistance, biocompatibility, and durable functionality

Laser Sintering at Midwest Prototyping

OEM:

EOS, 3D Systems, and Prodways

Max Build Area:

26 x 13.5 x 21.8 in

Lead Time:

3 – 5 Days

Material:

Flame Retardant Nylon 11, Glass Filled Nylon 12, Mineral Filled Nylon 6, Nylon 12

*Most commonly used materials are listed in bold.

Tolerances:

+/- .005 in. for the first inch and +/- .002 in. for each additional inch

Layer Thickness:

  • EOS:  .005 in
  • 3D Systems:  .004 in
  • Minimum Feature:  .02 in

Do you have a question about your design or materials that would fit your project? Email one of our Solutions Managers.

Laser Sintering Part capabilities

Which Laser Sintering Materials Does Midwest Prototyping Offer?

Material

Description

Key Characteristics

More Information

Fire Retardant Nylon 11 material that meets the FAR 25.853 60 second burn specification.

  • White
  • Flame Retardant
  • Heat Resistant
  • Rigid

Nylon 12 fortified with glass beads.  This material creates parts with higher thermal stability and stiffness than regular Nylon 12.

  • White
  • Chemical Resistant
  • Heat Resistant
  • High Strength
  • Impact Resistant
  • Rigid
  • UV Stability

Mineral Filled Nylon 6

Ultrasint PA6 MF

Ultrasint PA6 MF is a mineral-filled polyamide with excellent tensile strength, stiffness, thermal properties, and chemical resistance.

  • Black
  • High Strength
  • Heat Resistant

Nylon 12

PA 2200

Nylon 12 is a robust thermoplastic with exceptional physical properties.  

  • White
  • Chemical Resistant
  • Good for Snap Fits
  • Heat Resistant
  • High Strength
  • Impact Resistant
  • Rigid
  • UV Stability

Compare Materials

Best Practices for Designing Parts for Laser Sintering at Midwest Prototyping.

Feature

Measurement 

Supported Walls

.028 in

Unsupported Walls

Supports not required

Supports & Overhangs

Supports not required 

Embossing & Engraving

Width: .04 in, Height/Depth: .04 in

Horizontal Spans

Supports not required

Holes & Openings

.02 in

Connecting & Moving Parts

Moving: .012 in, Connecting: .006 in

Escape Holes

.04 in

Minimum Features

.03 in

Pin Diameter

.02 in

What are the Laser Sintering Finishing Levels at Midwest Prototyping?

Level

Process

Description

1

Excess powder removed, and lightly bead blasted.

Standard finish: Parts have visible layer lines and sandstone texture.

2

Excess powder removed, lightly bead blasted, and sealed to lessen porosity.

Sealed finish: Parts have visible layer lines, sandstone texture, and a slight gloss. Parts have a watertight finish.

2 +

Excess powder removed, lightly bead blasted, and cosmetic surfaces sanded to 180 grit.

Functional finish: Removes some layer lines. Parts have a light texture from sanding.

Excess powder removed, lightly bead blasted, and smoothed using PostPro3D

Automated finish: PostPro3D equipment is used to perform physiochemical smoothing. Smoothed parts have an air-tight, injection-molded-like finish.

3

Sealed, primed, or smoothed with PostPro3D and sanded to 320 grit

Near show quality finish: Removes layer lines. Parts may have minute scratches from sanding and are prime and paint-ready.

Are you ready to get your ideas made?

Our RFQ Team is standing by to give you a quote, and parts can be done in days, or contact one of our Solutions Managers for answers to a question! 

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