Sinterit announced a new powder handling station (PHS) to accompany their popular desktop SLS 3D printer, the Lisa PRO.
Sinterit arrived on the 3D printing scene a few years ago with a breakthrough idea: provide a low-cost SLS 3D printing solution. The original Lisa 3D printer suddenly made SLS powder 3D printing technology accessible to almost everyone, as the price of the unit was near-comparable to desktop FFF systems at the time.
However, unlike FFF systems, SLS equipment does require more sophisticated post-processing activities. Specifically, the powder used in the SLS process must be recaptured for reuse.
When an SLS 3D printer completes a job, the finished print is actually buried in a block of loose powder and must be extricated. This sometimes-messy process involves carefully digging out the print, vacuuming off any stray powder from the print, and moving all the remaining powder back into the machine for re-use on subsequent print jobs.
Prior to today, Sinterit users had to accomplish these tasks using any solution they could find. I suspect many simply used random equipment at hand, as commercial powder handling solutions are typically targeted at higher-end industrial SLS equipment. They would likely be out of the financial envelope for many Sinterit clients.
To solve this problem, Sinterit announced a new solution of their own, the Powder Handling Station. It’s actually a set of equipment that together can perform all needed tasks to manage powder and used powder on Sinterit equipment. The company explains:
“Sinterit just launched its Powder Handling Station (PHS), a supporting device designed to make post-processing and powder recovery as clean as possible. It is also a clear call for all additive manufacturing professionals, that small, benchtop SLS 3D printers like Lisa PRO are not stand-alone devices, but comprehensive ecosystems ready to answer the needs of a wide range of industries.”
That’s certainly true, as those coming from FFF technology might not realize the complexity of powder handling.
It’s crucial to recycle powder in SLS systems, as the powder is typically the most expensive element in each print job. Normally most of the powder that is laid down during a print job is actually not used, aside from providing mechanical support for the printed parts in the build chamber.
That unused powder should be reused to lower print costs, and that’s typically done. However, there is a small issue: during 3D printing the laser’s power may cause a bit of “splatter”, where some fused particles end up in the unused powder. These should be sifted out after each job because their presence could affect the print quality on subsequent print jobs. You want to have powder having uniform particle sizes.
The new PHS provides all these functions. Its process begins with a suction hose that can sweep away loose powder from the printed model. The loose powder is sucked into a sieving chamber, where those splatters are removed. This leaves “clean” powder for re-use. The PHS also can mix in an amount of new powder to maintain to ensure the overall quality of powder used is sufficient.
The introduction of the PHS sets Sinterit apart from other low-cost SLS providers who may not have an integrated powder handling system. In that way Sinterit can justly claim to provide an easier-to-use SLS solution that will no doubt find its way into the hands of many new SLS 3D printer operators.