SLS Metal Parts Direct from 3D Solid

I'm looking at using 3D Systems Vanguard SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) process for making injection mold cavity inserts for preliminary part production. At one time a few years ago the tolerances and finishes weren't so good. Now I understand they are far better, but all I have is that relative term "better".

My parts to make are all curved surfaces with virtually no flats anywhere, and making EDM electrodes even gets to be a bitch. I need a

5 axis mill, or break up the solid into parts for various electrodes. SLS offers the chance to get the cavity direct, PLUS: INTEGRAL WATERLINES COME FOR FREE (well, free if I design them into the cavity insert).

I'm excited about the possibilities, but need more info.

  1. Has any SolidWorks users hear-abouts had personal experience getting high precision metal parts out of the SLS machines?

  1. What sorts of tolerances and surface finished have you gotten on parts under 3" in size?

  2. What types of costs have you seen quoted for the SLS parts from service bureau vendors?

  1. Have you used the parts as they come out or have you used them in heat-treated form? I am considering the LaserForm A6 material.

Info from 3D Systems is at:

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Thanks - Bo Clawson

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Bo Clawson
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Better is a relative term isn't it. About a year ago we had some gears done out of SST with a bronze filler. We had to bore the center hole concentric with the pitch axis, but they worked OK after that.

As far as mold cavities/cores, I would suspect you could do something with a flat parting line. If it's curvy or stepped, it probably (damn likely) won't be accurate enough to shut off. Finding a feature accurate enough to use as a datum, to machine the P/L in, is also a problem.

Like I said, it's been a year. If you decide to go for it, let me know how it works.



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