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Differences between SLS and MJF 3D printing technology

Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) and MultiJet Fusion (MJF) technology are two advanced 3D printing methods that have revolutionized additive manufacturing, especially in the use of polymers such as PA12. Although both technologies can create precise and complex parts, there are key differences that affect their application and end results. Technology Applied – the largest Polish company providing 3D printing services, offers additive manufacturing in both techniques.

The SLS 3D printing process uses a high-energy laser to selectively sinter powdered polymer materials such as PA12. The laser scans the surface of the powder, fusing the particles in places defined by the design. MJF, on the other hand, uses a technique that involves applying a binder (called an agent) to a layer of powder and then heating the entire area, which allows the powder to bind and thus create a layer of the object.

Both methods offer high quality and precision, but differ in surface finish and detail. SLS typically delivers prints with better surface quality, although they may require additional finishing. MJF, in turn, allows for a more uniform surface and better detail in complex geometries. MJF is typically faster than SLS, making it a more efficient choice for rapid prototyping and low-volume production. The difference in speed is due to the method of applying the adhesive and simultaneous heating in MJF, compared to sequential sintering of each layer in SLS. On the other hand, SLS 3D printers offer larger working chambers, which allows the production of larger parts.

Both SLS and MJF do not require support structures, which allows the creation of more complex shapes without additional restrictions. Both technologies are widely used in various industries, but MJF may be more beneficial in cases where greater speed and efficiency of production are required.

Equipment and operating costs for both technologies may vary. MJF typically requires a larger initial investment, but offers faster production and potentially lower unit costs in high volumes. In the industrial machinery segment, SLS-type 3D printers are at comparable prices to MJF, but SLS includes desktop-class 3D printers which, although smaller and less efficient, are much cheaper and more accessible to small enterprises and startups.

While SLS and MJF are similar in their ability to work with polymers such as PA12, they differ in fundamental aspects of the printing process, speed, efficiency and cost. The choice between them depends on your specific design requirements. If you want to learn more about the process and manufacturing differences, it’s worth contacting Technology Applied, which has 3D printers that use both additive methods.

Photos: www.ta.parts

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