SLS 3D printing can be a messy endeavor.
Powder-based 3D printing relies on, well, powder. Sneeze and it’s everywhere — or just wait until it’s time to clean up a finished print job and excavate the sintered object/s from the powder bed. Depending on the specific materials being used, the hazards of powder can range from irritating to toxic to explosive. Fun.
Accessible SLS 3D Printing
With the expansion of smaller, lower-cost SLS 3D printers coming onto the market, more and more people have access to the technology. Previously this had been relatively limited to larger-scale industrial operations, due to the cost and footprint of the 3D printers and associated equipment.
Poland-based Sinterit has been at the forefront of the smaller, lower-cost SLS 3D printing movement with its Lisa and Lisa PRO systems. Sinterit has been paying attention to not only getting more people SLS 3D printing, but getting them to do so safely, cleanly, properly, and comfortably.
Today, Sinterit has introduced three new devices to address these aspects of SLS.
Safer, Cleaner SLS 3D Printing
Perhaps the most prominent launch today is the ATEX Vacuum Cleaner with Cyclone Separator.
Responding to customer demand for cleaner SLS 3D printing, Sinterit has introduced a dual-use vacuum cleaner. First and foremost, it’s a vacuum: it sucks up powder. Secondly, though, it can be used with the Cyclone Separator to collect unsintered powder for reuse.
Sinterit seemed dedicated to doing it right when it comes to powder collection and reuse; they explain:
“First of all, the ATEX certification is a must. You can’t use vacuum cleaners without this certification if you are working with the powder used for SLS 3D printers.”
What is ATEX? This video’s first minute (the second minute is marketing for Delfin Industrial Vacuums) explains it pretty succinctly:
I think we can all agree that appropriately not exploding is generally a good thing. The vacuum’s product page expands on the intent:
“Although SLS powders are not explosive alone, if they are mixed with air, there is a risk of explosion, just like a mixture of flour and air.
This is why a typical vacuum cleaner without ATEX certification is something you can not use for any reason. Most vacuum cleaners, even professional ones used by cleaning companies are not made to work with low graduation powder. Airborne powder in the ordinary vacuum cleaner, together with potential sparks may lead to an explosion.
Sinterit ATEX Vacuum Cleaner is designed to work with explosive mixtures. Besides the proper certification, it has grounding, special filter, anti-static dedicated hoses, and electrostatic nozzles.”
Adhering to certifications and regulations should always be a priority with any new products, as safe, reliable, repeatable performance is key to any manufacturing operation.
Gearing such certifiable solutions to additive manufacturing processes is only going to pick up as installations continue. This ATEX-certified solution is a solid step forward for the Lisa systems’ use with more peace of mind in more operations of various sizes. Saving and reusing powder helps to save significantly on material waste as well as costs, so viable solutions here are often paramount for any users of powder-based 3D printing processes.
“We wanted to introduce not only a tool but a device that is individually designed for the SLS environment, this is why only ATEX vacuum cleaners were on our circle of concern. With Cyclone Separator we wanted to design a simple and user-friendly tool made for better maintenance and powder saving. Now, after vacuuming, the user just removes the separator from the powder container, closes the lid and it’s ready,” says Grzegorz Glowa, CTO of Sinterit.
Sandblaster And Platform
Along with the vacuum introduction are two other new Sinterit devices: a larger sandblaster and an ergonomic 3D printer platform.
The new Sandblaster XL is a good fit for the larger print volume of the Lisa PRO. Sinterit explains:
“Sandblaster XL has two separate nozzles, twice as big workspace compared to the original Sandblaster and even more options like the powerful light, different nozzle diameters, more protective PE foils.”
The Sinterit Platform, for its part, is a convenient 3D printer holder. Simple, sure, but often the most seemingly obvious solutions can make the biggest difference in user experience. Adjustable for use with either the Lisa (with a set of higher legs) or the Lisa PRO (with shorter legs), the Platform helps to ease some of the backbreaking work of 3D printer operation. Adding powder, cleaning the 3D printer, or performing maintenance can hurt after a while with all the bending and lifting that may be required.
The Platform is on wheels, offering easier mobility for the 3D printers. While it also looks like a general rolly cart (technical term), the nice thing about a specially-designed product is that you know it will do what you need it to: fit the footprint and carry the weight of a 3D printer.