Top 5 3D Prints of 2023
The most fascinating SLS applications of the year
This year has been an exciting one for any 3D printing enthusiast, with many extraordinary parts, crazy designs and fascinating applications. In our end-of-year video, we’d like to take a look back and crown our personal top 5 uses of selective laser sintering (SLS) technology.
Rank 5: Hair Dryer Attachments
When it comes to unconventional shapes and innovative concepts, these 3D printed hair dryer attachments certainly take the cake. After printing them on the Sintratec S3 using our robust PA12 nylon, we tested them in a local hair salon. Here, they were able to effectively change the airflow of the hair dryer without melting . With some adjustments, they could be suitable for different styling purposes such as diffusing or adding volume.
Rank 4: Rover Components
At the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland, a team of students built a functional rover in just one year. For certain components, they need especially robust and accurate pieces, which is why they turned to SLS. For example, they used a 3D printed joint part that transmits the movement of the belt drive to the carbon tube of the rover’s arm. With their latest model, the team even took second place in this year’s European rover challenge.
Rank 3: Automotive Gear
What makes this gear for the automotive industry special, is the way it is made: By means of the Cold Metal Fusion process, a novel method that uses a metal spiked plastic powder and SLS printers. As with polymers, it starts with 3D printing and depowdering. The parts then go into a debinding station where a chemical solvent removes part of the plastic. Finally, the gears are sintered into full metal pieces inside a furnace. This way of producing complex metal parts could set a new standard in additive manufacturing.
Rank 2: Cable Pulley
This part is actually a 3D printed component used in our own 3D printers. More specifically, the cable pulley is used to move the coater blade of our build module each time a new powder layer is added. Since the component is in direct contact with the powder, it has integrated flow channels to prevent it from getting stuck. For us, it is much more efficient and economical to produce this part in-house, rather than commissioning it. Combined with its intricate design, we think this is a great showcase for the benefits of industrial 3D printing.
Rank 1: SLS Chain
And our pick for 3D print of the year: the world’s possibly longest SLS chain. Interesting enough, this part was printed in a single shot and arranged to fit perfectly in our cylindrical build volume. This goes to show that even with a print height of only about 30 centimeters, you can actually produce parts that are over 10 meters long. Best of all, the chain actually turned out to be very durable. We first tested it by pulling 6 bottles of water up our office building. And then, in our personal highlight of the year, we attached the SLS chain to a car and managed to drag it.
Summary and Outlook
These are our favorite SLS applications of 2023. Did you 3D print something special this year as well? We for one are already looking forward to the many exciting prints that the new year will bring. Stay healthy and until then!
Our team is happy to advise you and to begin your journey into the world of SLS. Contact us right away!