Norge Systems, an Italian company is expected to launch two SLS printers affordable for both small and large businesses. Selective laser sintering (SLS) technology has over time failed to make a quiet entry into small business, desktop and consumer markets.
Most people picture SLS printers as the $1 million machines that use a laser to melt each layer of metal powder. However, the technology can also be useful with other materials such as nylon, carbon fiber, glass filled polymide and rubber. Most SLS printers are priced close to $200,000 and are beyond reach even for some of the large printing companies.
Existing 3D Printers
Norge systems affordable SLS printer seeks to create competition within the 3D printing industry. Most 3D printers saturated in the market work based on fused deposition-modeling (FDM) technology except for the sterolithography (SLA) based printers, which are making a quiet entry into the market.
SLA based printers produce more accurate prints but are more expensive than the typical FDM machine. This is occasioned by the need for a DLP projector in curing liquid resin.
Ice1 and Ice9
Lica Venri, a team member of Norge Systems, Alessandro Facchini and Stefano Rebecchi have been working tirelessly to develop software and optimize the supply chain process of SLS printers. Their efforts have contributed to the development of two SLS machines, Ice1 and Ice9. These machines, among others to follow are expected to produce extremely high quality prints using some of the best materials available on the market.
The two machines are almost 80% ready for the production process. However, the company is planning to turn to Kickstarter on August 18 to raise additional funds for the project. After completion, the 3D printers are expected to sell at fraction price of what a typical SLS printer goes for in the market.
Specifications of the SLS printers
The specifications of the Ice1 SLS Printer include:
- Layer thickness of 0.1mm – 0.15mm.
- Affordable price of $13,000.
- Build envelope size of 20*20*25cm.
- Printer size of 900*300*350mm.
- Printing speeds of approximately 8 – 25mm/hour.
- Scan speed of up to 3m/s during build process.
- Laser solid state of 10W.
The Ice9 SLS Printer is expected to feature:
- Build envelope size of 30*30*45cm.
- Estimated price of $34,000.
- Size of 1500*1025*410mm.
- Layer thickness of between 0.1 – 0.15mm.
- Print speeds of approximately 10 – 30mm/hour.
- Scan speed of up to 4m/s during build process.
- 40W tube laser able to act as an engraver/cutter.
IceM 3D Printer
The Ice1 and Ice9 are expected to start shipping during the third quarter of 2015 if funded through Kickstarter. Apart from the two models, Norge Systems also claims to be working on another model referred to as the IceM 3D printer.
This machine is expected to print effectively well with metal powders like alumide, titanium and steel. The company believes this machine will also be available in the market during the first quarter of 2016. Its price is yet to be mentioned.
With the introduction of affordable SLS Printers, competition is expected to take a high notch. Norge Systems are currently igniting the desire for high quality SLS machines affecting the price of SLA printers and adoption of FDM printers. It is not yet known whether FDM printers will become outdated or whether they will evolve to compete with upcoming technologies.