May 15, 2015 | By Simon

Although fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printers has claimed the majority of the 3D printing limelight over the past few years thanks in no small part to the relatively low-cost of FDM 3D printers and the widespread community of FDM enthusiasts, a growing number of other additive manufacturing technologies have been popping up into more wallet-friendly offerings for consumers and small businesses.

Among others, the Polyforge aims to bring the power of SLS 3D printing to small businesses looking for high resolution 3D printed objects.

“I've been fascinated by 3D printing for a very long time - buying into the promise of easy manufacturing literally and figuratively,” said Polyforge founder and CEO Patrick Lie in an interview with 3Ders.   

After getting started early on with MakerBots and RepRaps before designing and building his own FDM-based 3D printer designs, Lie moved into learning more about SLS 3D printers after reading up on their advantages over FDM 3D printers.  Among other attributes that caught his attention were the omission of overhangs and support material as well as fully-solid prints that seemed to fulfill the promise of 3D printing.  

“That excitement faded when I learned how much they cost ($200k+), but I quickly saw this as an opportunity to create an affordable SLS printer and bring that power to small businesses,” said Lie.  

After deciding that he wanted to pursue that opportunity, Lie quit his job as an engineering manager and is now gearing up to launch his Polyforge SLS 3D printer at this weekend’s Bay Area Maker Faire.

The printer - which Lie is planning to launch on an Indiegogo campaign this summer - will retail for between $10,000 and $20,000 - what Lie says is “similar to mid-range laser cutters”.   

The printer uses a 20W CO2 laser to selectively melt cross-sections of a powdered material (such as Nylon), leading to fully dense, extremely strong parts.  The un-melted powder acts as implicit support, so very complex objects can be created without having to spend hours afterwards removing support structures.


Key Features:

  • 195 mm x 195 mm x 195 mm Build Volume
  • 120+ mm/s scan speed.
  • 20W CO2 Laser
  • Materials: Nylon, Wax, Polycarbonate and More

While SLS certainly offers some of the highest quality 3D printed objects on the market, the cost of producing the objects has been off-putting for many - especially if an STL file hasn’t been optimized beforehand for the costly production process.

Regardless of the success of his Indiegogo campaign, perhaps Lie might consider offering a Shapeways-like SLS printing service that, similar to his Polyforge 3D printer, is significantly less than existing options on the market?

If you can't make it to this weekend's Bay Area Maker Faire, you can stay updated on the Polyforge by signing up for their mailing list over on their website.  


Posted in 3D Printers


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