Assessing Energy Requirements and Material Flows of Selective Laser Sintering of Nylon Parts
Selective laser sintering (SLS) is a prominent technology for rapid manufacturing (RM) of functional parts. SLS and competitive RM technologies are generally assumed to be more environmentally sustainable than conventional manufacturing methods because the additive process minimizes tooling, material waste, and chemical fluids. A thorough life cycle analysis (LCA) of the environmental impacts of SLS has yet to be published. This study focuses on a section of the SLS part life-cycle. It tracks the nylon powder material flows from the extraction and synthesis of the material to SLS part production. Basic material properties and environmental effects are reported. Estimates of material waste and energy use are also reported and compared with those of injection molding.