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Layer-at-Once Plastic Sintering

June 13, 2007

Filed under: additive manufacturing,future,manufacturing,review — Terry Wohlers @ 08:12

Speed Part (Sweden) has developed a process called Selective Mask Sintering that sinters an entire layer of plastic powder at once. The company uses glass-filled nylon powder, an infrared lamp, and masks to produce each layer. The masks are generated using a Xerox photocopying process and represent the inverse of the cross sections being produced. The time to produce a layer is 10-20 seconds, which is fast. Using an IR lamp instead of a laser and galvanometer significantly reduces cost. The current system builds parts up to 300 x 210 x 500 mm (11.8 x 8.3 x 19.7 inches) and sells for €149,000 (~$198,000). Parts from the system are impressive.

Loughborough University (England) is also working on a layer-at-once plastic sintering process. It is called High Speed Sintering and it jets dark liquid (likely black ink) onto the surface of white nylon powder. The darkened regions represent the cross section that is to be sintered. The surface is then exposed to IR radiation. The dark regions are sintered because they absorb much more heat than the white regions, which is a clever approach.

As these processes are refined, they could impact the sales of laser sintering machines due to their potential speed and cost advantages. Loughborough University has not yet commercialized its process, but Speed Part sold its first three systems last year. It will be interesting to watch the development of these two systems. 


  1. This is a very interesting technology, but from the Speed Part website I read that their system was released on the market as far back as May 2004 and only in 2006 did they sell their first three systems. Is this normal in launching a new technology or are there major problems with these systems? I’m tying to get more info from the manufacturers but with no luck, their website is not so informative unfortunatley.

    Comment by fast3d — June 25, 2007 @ 07:53

  2. It is not unusual for new technology platforms to take time (i.e., years) to roll out commercially. History shows that entirely new additive systems have required 3-5 years to get to the point where they are working really well and reliably. My guess is that the Speed Part system is no exception. Consider contacting managing director Thomas Nilsson at the company.

    Comment by Terry Wohlers — June 25, 2007 @ 17:59