TODAY I was pleasantly surprised by another addition to the collection of open source 3D printer designs. Andreas Bastian – an engineering student at Swarthmore College – designed and build a SLS 3D printer, and made the design available as open source. It uses an infrared laser, and sinters a wax and carbon mixture for use in lost-wax casting.
As motivation for this project he writes:
The current leading open source 3D printers print only in ABS or PLA and are restricted both by the limitations inherent in these materials and by the limitations of the FDM process. Though these printers are entirely capable of self-replication and of producing parts for a variety of light-duty applications, they cannot produce pieces that can replace the cast aluminum parts found in power machinery, CNC equipment, or in numerous other high-strength applications.
Here is a video of the printer in action:
Here is a list of the other open source 3D printing designs:
Still missing are the 3DP technologies developed by ZCorp, Voxeljet, etc. and the Multi-jet/Poly-jet technologies of 3D Systems and Objet.
Interesting enough the US/USPTO patent for SLS has not expired yet and will be in force for the foreseeable future. I hope the patent owners / licensees can resist a cease-and-desist since this is nowhere near their business cases.
It is great to see more 3D printer designs become available as open source. These open source designs have a tendency to kickstart commercial applications. The list of FDM-like hobby printers is getting long with MakerBot, Ultimaker, Up!, etc.
Now who is going to be the first to make a commercial SLA hobby printer or SLS hobby printer?