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SLS as a tool for startups and small enterprises – how to start cooperation with a company providing 3D printing services?

For startups and small businesses, selective laser sintering (SLS) technology can be a powerful tool for innovation and growth. SLS offers the ability to rapidly prototype and produce custom components that can be crucial to the success of small businesses. Technology Applied – the largest Polish company providing 3D printing services in Poland, specializing in the SLS method, has been supporting small and medium-sized enterprises in this way for years, as well as participating in the creation of new products and solutions developed by technology startups.

If a company wants to establish cooperation with companies specializing in 3D printing services, it should go through the following several stages:

Understanding your business needs: before ordering a 3D printing service, it is important to define your company’s needs. It is worth considering the type of components we want to print, their function, dimensions and expected durability and quality. Different additive technologies offer different possibilities – ranging from size, through surface quality, to price. Unfortunately, these factors cannot always be combined in one service (i.e. the largest possible part, at the best possible quality, at the lowest possible price), so it is important to set priorities.

Choosing the right service provider: if the company wants the lowest price possible and quality is of secondary importance, then the FDM / FFF method, i.e. 3D printing from thermoplastics in the form of a string, will work. It is not a bad or poor manufacturing method, it simply offers relatively low surface quality compared to alternative additive technologies. If someone is looking for high-quality parts, it is worth considering SLS. Here, everyone should look for service providers specializing in this method – and above all, look for those who have their own 3D printers and do not “work with partner companies”. Only owners of SLS 3D printers can offer the highest possible quality and technical support. It is important to check the company’s portfolio, opinions of other clients and experience in working with similar projects. Technology Applied – the largest Polish service company, has three SLS machines, as well as a number of other industrial-class machines operating in other additive techniques.

Model 3D preparation: before starting cooperation with the service provider, you should prepare a digital 3D model of the component. It is worth consulting with your service provider to ensure that the design is optimized for SLS printing and meets all technical requirements. Important! It is impossible to price a 3D printing service with SLS without a 3D model – sketches and flat drawings will have to be designed in 3D software anyway.

Information about specifications and requirements: communication is key in the collaboration process. It is important to discuss all project specifications, including size, tolerances, type of finish and expected completion date. Does color matter? Will the part be subjected to mechanical stress (what?), high temperatures (what?) or chemical stresses (solvents, acids)? All this affects the quote – without this information, the service provider may make a part according to default settings, which will fall apart already at the testing stage.

Understanding the costs and lead time: before starting production, it is important to understand the costs associated with SLS 3D printing – what causes this particular price and whether and what can be done to reduce it? Companies like Technology Applied, which produce several dozen thousand parts a month, have no interest in artificially increasing prices – they usually result from the amount of material used. Sometimes it is enough to change the design to reduce costs by up to several dozen percent.

Testing and iterating: once you receive your first prints, it is important to test them in practical applications. Based on the feedback, it is possible to make modifications and further iterations to achieve the optimal result.

In summary, SLS with PA12 offers startups and small businesses the flexibility and capabilities necessary to develop innovative products. The key to success is choosing the right service provider, precise project preparation and effective communication at every stage of the process.

Photo: www.ta.parts

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