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Selective Laser Sintering Coming to Kickstarter

The additive manufacturing (AM) market is rapidly evolving and increasing in diversity. For a long while, customers essentially had two tiers of 3D printers to choose from. The best systems were huge and expensive, while many desktop systems were rather rinky-dink, but moderately affordable. The quality of desktop systems that small businesses could afford improved fairly rapidly, even expanding to include stereolithography systems, such as the Form1.

Now it appears as if the market is about to shift again. An Italian company called Norge Systems is working to manufacture a pair of selective laser sintering (SLS) systems with a price tag low enough to interest small businesses. According to the company, its initial systems — the Ice1 and Ice9 — are 80% ready for launch, but just need a little bump in capital to finish. With that end in mind, Norge Systems will be launching a Kickstarter on August 18 to raise additional funds.

Concept renders of the forthcoming and moderately priced Ice1 and Ice9 SLS systems. Courtesy of Norge Systems.

Concept renders of the forthcoming and moderately priced Ice1 and Ice9 SLS systems. Courtesy of Norge Systems.

Selective laser sintering operates by using a laser to fuse a powdered material (usually plastic, nylon or metal) into layers, gradually building an entire object without the strata associated with other processes. Since the entirety of the build takes place in a powder container, SLS doesn’t require support structures, which can lead to reduction in material waste. The least expensive SLS systems currently on the market cost around $200,000.

The patents that kept SLS the sole province of specific corporate entities expired at the beginning of 2014, and Norge Systems is the first company to attempt to take advantage. Still in development, the Ice1 is meant to be a desktop SLS system and will be priced at £7,500 (around $13,000), and the full-sized Ice9 will cost £19,900 (around $34,000), according to the company.

Below are the current technical specs available for each system.

Ice1

  • Printer size: 900 x 300 x 350mm
  • Build envelope: 20 x 20 x 25cm (7.87 x 7.87 x 9.84 in.)
  • Layer thickness: 0.1 – 0.15mm
  • Average print speed: 8 to 25mm/hour
  • Powder feeding mode: Two-way powder feed system
  • Scanning system: Theta lens focusing, high-accuracy magnetic encoder
  • Scan speed during build process: up to 3 m/s

Ice9

  • Printer size: 1500 x 1025 x 410mm
  • Build envelope: 30 x 30 x 45cm (11.8 x 11.8 x 17.7 in.)
  • Layer thickness: 0.1 – 0.15mm
  • Average print speed: 10 to 30mm/hour
  • Scanning system: Theta lens focusing, high-accuracy magnetic encoder
  • Scan speed during build process: up to 4 m/s
  • Laser: 40W tube laser – Able to act as a laser engraver/cutter as well

It’ll be interesting to see what sort of deal Norge Systems offers backers. It can be hard to balance a Kickstarter project to both appeal to the crowd and provide a solid financial basis for the company to begin operations. Below you’ll find a video about the forthcoming SLS systems.

Source: Norge Systems

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About John Newman

John Newman is a contributing editor to Desktop Engineering magazine. He covers the rapid prototyping and manufacturing beat.

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