A comparison between 3d printing technologies
Which technology is the best – SLS vs FDM
There is currently a lot of grey areas surrounding 3d printing technologies comparison. Although sls technology in nice white strong nylon is good for most ‘hand held’ sized prototypes it can be very rough for finishing. In fact you cant really finish a detailed part made from sls. For example if you require a presentation model with some high detail it would take many man hours of hand finishing to a. Smooth the part. And b. paint the part. Even then you run the risk of rubbing away the detail and if it suppose to fit or mate against some other part then the error involved will reduce the sizes (because too much material has been rubbed away to achieve the smooth finish) and the part will end up too small. This is where many designers for rapid prototyping and 3d printing fail to realise and understand the limitations of the technology.
The most accurate rapid prototyping process is sla which also uses a laser but even it is not without its tolerance dimensional discrepancies.
Check out the 3d printing technologies comparison between the sls print of the zombie hunter and the fdm print.
As you can see the fdm part displays a slightly higher quality because of the 0.1mm layer thickness compared with that of 0.25mm for Sls. Selective laser sintering technology is ultimately determined by the size of a grain of powder. This size has reached its optimum level so I believe that sls and other powder based additive manufacturing technologies will fail to live up to the consumers expectations.
Most new consumers of 3d printed products are expecting a part that will rival that of an injection moulded ABS component as you might see in a production car or production consumer product.
Current companies that use sls technolgy include Shapeways (white strong flexible) and 3dprint uk (we only do white). So if you want your part to look like the rough face of an extra strong mint then choose cheap sls.
If you want a part that suits your needs choose Magicmodel.