What is SLS 3D Printing?

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Updated February 3, 2023

If you are new to the world of physical printing, you may wonder what exactly is SLS 3D printing. Some of the best printers, after all, are 3D printers. Like FFF, SLS printing is a popular sub-type that uses lasers to fuse polymer powders into layers as it builds your object. So how do the best 3D printers work, what exactly is SLS printing, and what are some advantages to this printing method? Keep reading to find out.


  • SLS stands for selective laser sintering and is a popular type of 3D printing technology in various industrial sectors.
  • These printers use thermoplastic polymers that ship in a layer of powder before it is heated and fused as part of the 3D printing process.
  • SLS printers are great for making functional prototypes and for small batch runs of finished 3D designs.

What is SLS Printing?

Selective laser sintering (SLS) is a 3D printing method that uses lasers to break up the particles of a polymer powder, heating them and fusing them together to build a 3D object, layer by layer. Due to the nature of the design, this is considered a part of the powder bed fusion family of 3D printers. The materials used with these printers are thermoplastic polymers that ship in a granular form, so this type of printer does not use standard filament or resin.

Insider Tip

Commercially available SLS printers do exist, but they are on the expensive side when compared to other types.

Before finding the best SLS printer, you need to understand the basics of 3D printing. It all starts with filament or resin, which is extruded via a heated nozzle if you are wondering what materials 3D printers use. This heated building material is placed layer by layer on the print bed if you are learning what is SLA 3D printing.

In this way, the 3D object is slowly built, even if you are still comparing the Sinterit Lisa Pro vs the Fuse 1.

Benefits of SLS Printing

Despite featuring a relatively unusual design and print methodology, there are still plenty of benefits to choosing an SLS printer for various tasks.

Rapid Prototyping

True, this is a benefit primarily for industrial manufacturers and bigwig businesses, but rapid prototyping is still extremely important. Regular consumers can quickly prototype objects to sell on Etsy or to give as gifts. SLS printers offer some serious advantages when building quick and dirty prototypes, such as an increase in the quality of the generated parts. In other words, SLS printers are great for building concept-to-trial models.

STAT: In SLS 3D printing, a laser selectively sinters the particles of a polymer powder, fusing them together and building a part, layer by layer. (source)

Accuracy and Complexity

SLS printers are highly accurate, even when building overly complex objects. They are great for building items with complex shapes and geometries. Additionally, the thermoplastic polymers used with these printers integrate nicely with a wide variety of finishes and lead times. In other words, SLS printers are highly versatile, in addition to being accurate and great at complex print jobs.

SLS Printing FAQs

Can you use SLS 3D printing for rapid prototyping?

Yes, as these 3D systems are often used for rapid prototyping in the medical devices industry and a wide range of other industries. In general, additive manufacturing technologies are often great for rapid prototyping.

Can you use SLS 3D printing for low-production runs?

Yes, printers. that use thermoplastic polyurethane excels with building out low-production runs, such as medical devices and other 3D systems. The look and tensile strength will be on point.

What is metal 3D printing?

Selective laser sintering does not handle metal, but many printers can, even commercially available models that use filament. In those cases, the filament is mixed with metallic dust as part of the 3D printing process. Selective laser melting printers also handle metal.
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