Sinterit announced the availability of a new “comprehensive set of powder tools”, which aims to change the game when acquiring an SLS 3D printer.
Every 3D printer requires some accessory tools; that’s no surprise. But what almost always happens is the 3D printer operator is responsible for acquiring these tools, without which the device cannot be properly operated.
3D Printer Tools
For many 3D printers the set of tools required is actually pretty straightforward. For an FFF device, that might be snips, scraper, pliers and wipes for the print bed. But with other 3D printing processes, the tool situation gets a bit more complicated.
SLA 3D printers, for example, are usually extremely messy, as the resin tends to drip if you’re not careful, fouling surfaces with potentially toxic material. For that process you’ll need a set of tools that includes PPE, but that’s another story.
In the case of SLS, there are more and different tools required. The SLS process involves fusing loose powder by a laser beam, layer-by-layer. However, the presence of powder implies a lot more mess to deal with. In fact, the first time I saw an SLS machine in person, the operator was wearing a full-body protective suit with goggles and respirator.
Having operated a PBF machine myself, I am familiar with the need for a great set of SLS tools. Because the powder is loose it must be constantly contained as much as possible. Not only do you not want to make a mess, you also want to preserve the usually-expensive powder for re-use in subsequent print jobs.
Sinterit Powder Tools
It appears that Sinterit has spent considerable time evaluating tools and processes for handling powder with their inexpensive SLS 3D printer. They’ve come up with a bundle of tools that can optimally handle SLS powder. They say:
“Sinterit New Powder Tools were designed to keep the powder only where it should be. If SLS 3D printing is like having a dish, then the powder tools are like knives and forks. Of course, you can eat with your bare hands, to feel the taste, but you will need to clean a lot, afterward.”
What’s in the toolkit? Here are the highlights:
A powder funnel is used to load powder into the machine. The funnel attaches to powder storage pail and can direct a pour of powder into the device without having any expensive spills. Having loaded powder into machines from purchased tubs without a funnel, I can say this alone is an incredibly useful accessory.
A specially designed trowel can be used to tamp down powder in the machine easily because it is precisely sized to match the powder reservoir’s area. Without this, one would be using “something” to tamp the powder in an irregular manner.
An “IO Box” is used to transfer powder, but this version also comes apart to become a secondary tool to help guide powder flows when pouring with the funnel attachment: it prevents powder from falling anywhere except where it is supposed to go.
A foldable tray can be used as a workspace to post-process dusty prints. Without this one would have to construct a work area on their own that somehow prevents powder spills. Here, you simply unfold the tray and place it on any flat table for an instant workspace. What a great idea!
A “Service Kit” includes a set of multiple replacement parts that typically will wear out during machine operation. It’s not “tools” per se, but will definitely save a lot of time when a minor item fails and you don’t have to order repair parts from overseas.
Here you can see these tools in operation:
It seems that this new kit will be available from Sinterit resellers, and I’m not sure of the price.
Simplified 3D Printing
This is a great move by Sinterit, and I wish other 3D printer manufacturers could do the same. The experience of 3D printing is not just the machine; there are lots of other steps in the process of producing 3D printed parts, and many of them involve other tools that are not always sold by the manufacturer.
Sinterit’s customer base no doubt includes many who have not previously used SLS 3D printers, and thus this kit could greatly assist getting them going in 3D printing. The Polish company continues to introduce new products to ease and cleanup their SLS process.
Here we have a case where the manufacturer recognized the entire user experience and has attempted to make it a lot easier for all. Great work!
Easier 3D printing means more 3D printing.