Materialise has offered selective laser sintering since 1999. The introduction of this major rapid prototyping technique into Materialise's services went very smoothly. A few years later, several laser sintering machines are producing plastic parts of a constantly increasing size and for an ever growing range of applications. Selective laser sintering can be used in every stage of the product development cycle, from the production of one-shot models to functional test parts and small production series. Laser sintering is suitable for larger amounts of components, even for series of 50 to 100 pieces and more.
Laser Sintering is also a technique by which parts are built layer by layer. The basic material consists of powder with particle sizes in the order of magnitude of 50 µm. Successive powder layers are spread on top of each other. After deposition, a computer-controlled CO2 laser beam scans the surface and selectively binds together the powder particles of the corresponding cross section of the product. During laser exposure, the powder temperature rises above the glass transition point after which adjacent particles flow together. This process is called sintering.