Selective Laser Sintering
Using the SLS system to give a visual representation of an idea. This allows
research and development teams as well as private inventors to get a visual
depiction of their hand drafted ideas. For example, the skeletal hand can be
used to point out specifics about the makeup of the hand and the manifold on
the right can show a design without needing a full size part.
After the research and ideas have been finalized, a final prototype may be built.
Using SLS materials, it is possible to create functional parts. For example,
impellers made for pumps can actually be installed to determine the design's
capabilities. For another, casings for mechanical tools can be created, and then
actually used to encase the internal parts, allowing testing of the tool
with minimal cost.
Using a polystyrene powder, the SLS machine produces parts for this process.
These parts are very porous and are dipped into melted wax, which wicks into
the pores. After cooling, the wax/polystyrene part is dipped into a ceramic
slurry, and a ceramic shell is produced. This is then fired in a kiln, burning off
the powder and wax, leaving behind a mold in which molten metal may be
poured, producing a functional metal prototype.