Sinterit has revealed more details about their upcoming NILS 480 SLS 3D printer, which could shake up the SLS market.
Previously, the company had released a teaser about this new machine. It was of particular interest to me because prior to the announcement, Sinterit had produced only “compact” desktop SLS 3D printers.
Their original offering was the low-priced but highly capable Lisa 3D printer in 2015. It was a breakthrough product at the time because it was one of the very first to offer SLS 3D printing technology at a rock-bottom price. Existing SLS options at the time were 20X as expensive, or more. This opened up the possibility for using SLS 3D printing on many more applications in more companies and institutions. Later, they introduced the somewhat larger Lisa Pro system.
Now, the company may be making a similar breakthrough with the new NILS 480.
While the original Lisa devices were inexpensive, they also offered smaller build volumes than the much bigger competitive commercial units. Those larger machines were typically used for serious 3D printed production, as the cost of their acquisition and operation demanded near-continuous operation to justify those costs.
NILS 480 3D Printer Specifications
The NILS 480 is definitely not a tabletop device, and appears to be positioned to enter that very market. Let’s take a look at the key elements of this device, as we know today:
It has a much larger build volume of 200 x 200 x 330 mm, as compared to the Lisa Pro’s 110 x 160 x 260 mm and the Lisa’s 110 x 160 x 130 mm.
It prints with faster speed. We don’t yet know specifically that speed, but Sinterit says a print occupying the entire build volume could be printed “in a little more than a day”. Remember, that’s 330mm of SLS layers.
It has an increased powder reusability factor. While most other SLS systems require 50% fresh powder on each job run, Sinterit is hinting that the NILS 480 will offer significant improvements, even saying phrases such as “zero waste”. They will apparently reveal more next week.
The amount of automation on the NILS 480 is increased, making the machine “faster to operate than in the current compact Lisa SLS line.”
Finally, the NILS 480 cost is said to be at a breakthrough level. Sinterit explains:
“Most of the industrial-grade SLS 3D printers cost over 100k EUR. There are a few in a price range between 60k and 100k, but Sinterit declares opening the new pricing chapter to make industrial printers more accessible.”
While they are to announce the pricing next week, this suggests the price of the NILS 480 could be lower than US$60K. That would indeed change the economics for production sites using the SLS process, although one would also have to compute the operational cost based on the amount of material that can be 3D printed per unit of time and the cost of that material. We can’t quite do that yet because Sinterit hasn’t released the specifications. However, it’s highly likely they have taken all that into account and will offer a very competitive machine.
NILS 480 For Production
All of these improvements, when taken together, strongly suggest the NILS 480 is designed for production. The pricing alone, if sufficiently low, could drive significant adoption among companies looking for SLS solutions but unable to afford those from current players.
For the existing SLS 3D printer manufacturers, this is certainly bad news: a competitor with a good price is never welcome. That said, the existing manufacturers more than likely have far more extensive distribution networks than Sinterit, so it will be quite a while before Sinterit can catch up. That may provide sufficient time for new, inexpensive SLS solutions to be developed.
For SLS users, this is all tremendous news.