HomeBuyer's guides3D printersDesktop SLS 3D printers: the best powder printers
SLS
Buyer's guide
3D printers

Desktop SLS 3D printers: the best powder printers


Compact SLS 3D printers offer highly detailed prints without the need for support material. They can fit in an office environment (with the right precautions) and be of great help to product designers and engineers. Our guide covers some of the best desktop SLS 3D printers available this year.
The Formlabs Fuse 1, which was announced in 2017, is now commercially available. We also updated pricing for several products.

What desktop SLS 3D printers are available on the market?

SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) is a 3D printing technology that uses a laser beam to sinter powdered material. This technique enables the 3D printing of detailed functional parts and prototypes.

Five to ten years ago, SLS technology was exclusive to large, industrial additive manufacturing systems. In recent years, a more compact SLS 3D printer niche has been slowly emerging, with lower prices and office-friendly formats.

Starting at around $6,000, these benchtop or desktop SLS 3D printers enable SMEs to access accurate and advanced in-house prototyping without having to rely on external 3D printing services. They are able to print with powder materials such as Nylon, TPU, and other thermoplastics.

In this guide, we take a closer look at which desktop SLS printers are available on the market from brands like Sintratec, Sinterit, and WeMatter.

The best desktop SLS 3D printers for professionals

3D printerBuild volumeCountryPrice*Buy
Sinterit Lisa150 x 200 x 150 mmPoland$12,995Quote
Sinterit Lisa Pro150 x 200 x 260 mmPoland$17,990Quote
Sintratec Kit130 x 130 x 130 mmSwitzerland$5,999Quote
Formlabs Fuse 1165 x 165 x 320 mmUnited States$18,499Quote
Natural Robotics VIT SLS250 x 250 x 300 mmSpain$12,900Quote
RED ROCK 3D RED ROCK180 x 180 x 180 mmRussia-Quote
These are the current solutions for affordable yet professional SLS 3D printing.

*Price: These prices are subject to change over time and/or from one country to another.

What is SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) technology?

Up until early 2014, Carl Deckard from Structured Polymers held a patent on Selective Laser Sintering 3D printing technology. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) is part of the Powder Bed Fusion family of 3D printing technologies.

How does Selective Laser Sintering work?

This technology uses a laser to sinter powdered material. In other words, a powerful laser beam selectively melts and fuses tiny powder particles together.

Once a layer is finished, more powder is rolled and spread onto the print bed. The process repeats itself layer after layer. The excess powder stays in the powder bed, thus automatically providing support for the object and its intricacies (though supports are still needed when it comes to metal 3D printing).

When the 3D printing process is finished and the powder bed has cooled down, the objects can be removed. Excess powder material is then to be brushed off to reveal the final part. Aside from powder removal, the parts require little to no post-processing for basic applications.

SLS 3D printing technology.

SLS 3D printing technology.
Source: Sculpteo

Overview of the best desktop SLS printers

The Sinterit Lisa is one of the best desktop SLS 3D printers on the market.

Sinterit Lisa

  • Build volume: 150 x 200 x 150 mm
  • Dimensions: 620 x 400 x 660 mm
  • Weight: 41 kg
  • Country: Poland
  • Price: $12,995
The Sinterit Lisa is a plug-and-play desktop SLS 3D printer made by Polish manufacturer Sinterit. It is one of the most affordable SLS 3D printers actually available on the market.

This 3D printer offers a relatively large build volume for a desktop 3D printer, and even more so for an SLS 3D printer in this price range. With the Lisa it is possible to 3D print flexible material (Flexa Black/Grey) or rigid, strong material (PA12).

More information: Sinterit Lisa

Sinterit Lisa Pro

  • Build volume: 150 x 200 x 260 mm
  • Dimensions: 690 x 500 x 880 mm
  • Weight: 90 kg
  • Country: Poland
  • Price: $17,990
In comparison with the regular Lisa, the Lisa Pro boasts various upgrades and features. For starters, the Pro version is equipped with a Nitrogen chamber, for wider material compatibility.

The Lisa Pro SLS printer also provides a bigger print volume as well as a larger touchscreen than the Lisa.

More information: Sinterit Lisa Pro

Our review at Sinterit headquarters: Sinterit Lisa Pro review

The Sintratec Kit is one of the most affordable laser sintering 3D printers on the market.

Sintratec Kit

  • Build volume: 110 x 110 x 110 mm
  • Dimensions: 600 x 520 x 380 mm
  • Weight: 28 kg
  • Country: Switzerland
  • Price: $5,999
The Sintratec Kit started out as an Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign in 2014. It is one of the most affordable SLS 3D printers available today.

The Kit requires around four days of assembly. Users can freely adjust the laser’s height, speed, and temperature in order to try out different materials.

More information: Sintratec Kit

Formlabs Fuse 1 best SLS 3D printer

Formlabs Fuse 1

  • Build volume: 165 x 165 x 320 mm
  • Dimensions: 645 x 685 x 1065 mm
  • Weight: 114 kg
  • Country: United States
  • Price: $18,499
Formlabs, originally an SLA 3D printer manufacturer, introduced their first SLS 3D printer – the Fuse 1 – mid 2017. It is officially available since January 2021.

The printer works with Formlab’s PreForm software, and features two separate build chambers. This enables users to immediately launch a second build once the first job is complete.

After the printing process, the chamber can be directly placed as-is in the Fuse Sift, an all-in-one sieving machine that collects unused powder and prepares it for future builds by mixing it with fresh powder. The Fuse 1 can work with up to 70% of recycled powder, so each new build only requires 30% of fresh material (which costs around $100/kg).

More information: Formlabs Fuse 1

The Natural Robotics VIT SLS is a desktop laser sintering 3D printer.

Natural Robotics VIT SLS

  • Build volume: 250 x 250 x 300 mm
  • Hardware dimensions: 800 x 600 x 950 mm
  • Weight: –
  • Country: Spain
  • Price: $12,900
Note: Natural Robotics launched the VIT SLS via Kickstarter in 2017. As of January 2021, some backers are stating that they still haven’t received their printers, although the company claims to be shipping products.

The VIT SLS offers a relatively large build volume compared to the other 3D printers in this range.

More information: Natural Robotics VIT SLS

The RED ROCK 3D RED ROCK is a desktop SLS 3D printer that sinters powdered material.

RED ROCK 3D RED ROCK

  • Build volume: 180 x 180 x 180 mm
  • Hardware dimensions: 800 x 430 x 770 mm
  • Weight: 35 kg
  • Country: Russia
  • Price: –
Note: This 3D printer is only available in a limited geographical region.

RED ROCK 3D is a new 3D printer manufacturer from Russia. Its RED ROCK SLS 3D printer offers a relatively large build volume compared to most of the other desktop SLS 3D printers in this selection.

Little information about this SLS 3D printer is available on the RED ROCK 3D website, which hasn’t been updated in a while (as of January 2021).

More information: RED ROCK 3D

Compact industrial-grade SLS 3D printers: our picks

The following printers are larger than the benchtop SLS printers from our main selection, but are still relatively compact considering the usual size of industrial SLS systems.
Sintratec S2

Sintratec S2

  • Build volume: ⌀ 160 x 400 mm
  • Dimensions: 1500 × 1100 × 750 mm
  • Weight: 72.5 kg
  • Country: Switzerland
  • Price: $39,999
The Sintratec S2 is an all-in-one modular and scalable SLS 3D printing system with an onboard camera and large, intuitive touchscreen. It integrates a material preparation module as well as a depowdering station for semi-automatic workflows.

Optional stations include a blasting station, vortex unit, and a polishing station, enabling easier part post-processing.

More information: Sintratec S2

Sharebot SnowWhite 2

Sharebot SnowWhite 2

  • Build volume: 100 x 100 x 100 mm
  • Dimensions: 1500 x 600 x 520 mm
  • Weight: 120 kg
  • Country: Italy
  • Price: $40,000
The SnowWhite 2 features a powerful CO₂ laser that is able to sinter a range of materials including PA 12, PA 11, and TPU, as well as powder loaded with carbon or glass fiber or even aluminum.

All unused powder can be recycled. The printer can be powered up in ten minutes and the minimum amount of powder required to start a print is 300g.

More information: Sharebot SnowWhite 2

XYZPrinting MfgPro230 xS

XYZPrinting MfgPro230 xS

  • Build volume: 230 x 230 x 230 mm
  • Dimensions: 1460 × 1890 × 740 mm
  • Weight: 310 kg
  • Country: China
  • Price: $70,000
XYZprinting’s range of products is one of the industry’s most diverse in terms of technology, suiting both consumers and businesses.

The MfgPro230 xS is an open-source system, meaning that its powerful 30W CO2 can print with any powder that’s available on the market. Hence, users can experiment with different types of Nylons and TPU materials, and even light-colored ones, which is not the case with entry-level SLS printers.

More information: XYZPrinting MfgPro230 xS

Wematter Gravity

  • Build volume: 300 x 300 x 300 mm
  • Dimensions: 1700 x 750 x 600 mm
  • Weight: –
  • Country: Sweden
Released in 2020, the Gravity SLS 3D printer by Swedish manufacturer Wematter is the most recent printer in our selection. The printer features integrated powder recycling and easy material handling with user-friendly packaging.

Wematter’s cloud-based slicing software automatically optimizes the build area, packing parts efficiently and as close together as possible thanks to advanced algorithms.

More information: Wematter Gravity

Benefits and limits of SLS 3D printing

Main benefits of SLS 3D printing

 

No need for support: 3D printing complex and functional parts

Since unused powder remains in the powder bed, it naturally acts as support for the following sintered layers. This support, which is present all over, allows the 3D printing of very complex and/or functional parts and prototypes.

It’s also possible to 3D print objects within objects, also known as nesting. This is not possible with other 3D printing technologies such as FFF and FDM (extrusion) or SLA and DLP (resins).

Waste reduction

It is possible to re-use powder that has not been sintered. This significantly reduces material waste and costs compared to other 3D printing techniques. Also, no material is wasted on support structures.

Main limitations of powder SLS 3D printing

Just like any technology, SLS 3D printing has its downsides.

Porosity/rough surface

SLS 3D printed objects are porous, though it is possible to apply sealant to alter their sandy, granular-like surfaces.

Expensive material

The price for one kilogram of PA12 powder can range from around $55 to about $180.

Logistics and post-processing

Due to the volatile nature of powder, extra caution is required when handling the material and taking the final 3D print out of the powder bed. The prints must be depowdered; either manually, which is time-consuming, or with a dedicated powder removal solution.

Layering objects is possible with SLS 3D printing technology.

Multiple layers of parts to be 3D printed with SLS technology.
Source: Sinterit

SLS vs FDM vs SLA

SLS vs FDM (FFF)

Compared to Fused Filament Fabrication, SLS can:

  • achieve higher quality prints
  • provide thinner layers and wall thicknesses
  • generate complex 3D prints without the need for support

However, Selective Laser Sintering 3D printers offer much less material choice (and colors).

SLS vs SLA

Compared to stereolithography 3D printing technology, Selective Laser sintering offers:

  • thinner wall thicknesses
  • complex 3D prints without support structures

That being said, SLS 3D prints have rougher surfaces than SLA 3D prints.

SLS vs SLA and SLS vs FDM

Sinterit’s 3D printing technologies comparison.
Source: Sinterit

SLS 3D printing: what materials are available?

Main desktop SLS 3D printing powders

Most desktop SLS 3D printers use Polyamide (PA) powdered material, also known as Nylon. The main PA powders available on the market are:

  • Nylon PA12
  • Nylon PA11

Then, there are composite or “charged” powders, meaning that different materials are mixed with PA. The most common are the following:

  • Alumide: PA mixed with aluminum (shiny, metallic appearance)
  • Carbonamide: PA reinforced with carbon fiber (stiff and lightweight)
  • Nylon 3200: PA filled with glass (more chemical and heat resistant than PA12)

There is also PEBA 2031, a flexible, rubbery and resistant plastic powder. Some manufacturers produce elastic 3D printing powders (such as Sinterit’s Flexa Black and Flexa Grey) to 3D print shock absorbers, clothing parts, bellows, etc.

Nylon SLS 3D printing material

Nylon, or Polyamide (PA), is the most common powdered material used by SLS 3D printers. It boasts many interesting characteristics:

  • Lightweight: Polyamide is a lightweight 3D printing material.
  • Robust: this material can bear loads or be used for mechanical parts.
  • Flexible: Nylon can bend and come back to its original form.
  • Resistance: PA offers good heat and chemical resistance.

Manufacturers generally sell their own, branded powder material.

SLS 3D printing in general

Desktop SLS printers are limited to plastics when it comes to material choice. However, when using larger, more expensive powder industrial 3D printers, it is possible to 3D print metal powder. Some industrial SLS 3D printers are also able to 3D print ceramics.

Sintratec proprietary PA12 powder.

Sintratec’s PA12 powder.
Credit: Sintratec

Table of contents

About this author

Ludivine Cherdo

Ludivine is in charge of Aniwaa's content strategy and works towards providing useful, informative content, including detailed guides based on her deep knowledge of the additive manufacturing scene. She also reviews 3D printers and stays on top of the latest industry news and trends. After growing up in the US and living in Spain, Chile, and Cambodia, Ludivine is now based in France.