An Introduction to SLS Nylons 

In our previous article introducing SLA resins, we uncovered a long list of 3D printing materials for thousands of applications. In comparison, SLS (Selective Laser Sintering) prints one material family – Nylon – in various strains.

Selective Laser Sintering uses a high-powered laser to selectively ‘sinter’ nylon powder instead of a mechanical print head as used in FFF technology and a laser that cures photo-sensitive resin as used in SLA technology.

The advantage of SLS is that you can fabricate complex and intricate parts from nylon powder rapidly. The laser achieves a greater range of motion and scale than other technologies, enabling a new range of design possibilities.

The most popular 3D printers of their kind is the Formlabs Fuse 1, which combines a large a 165 x 165 x 300 mm (6.5 x 6.5 x 11.8 in) build area with a maximum build speed of 10 mm/hour (0.39 in/hour) for rapid prototyping and manufacturing. Formlabs Fuse 1+ 30W offers greater capability than the Fuse 1 and has an upgraded laser meaning faster print speeds.

Both the Formlabs Fuse can also be paired with the Fuse Sift, an all-in-one powder recovery system that extracts, recovers, stores, and mixes nylon powder for you.

SLS Nylons

The Fuse 1 prints three types of nylon powder: Nylon 11, Nylon 12 and Nylon 12 GF. The significant difference is that Nylon 11 has 40% elongation at break, while Nylon 12 has 11% elongation at break and the Nylon 12 GF has 4% elongation break, offering greater ductility and performance.

The Fuse 1+ 30W prints 4 types of nylon powder: Nylon 11, Nylon 12, Nylon 12 GF and Nylon 11 CF. The Fuse 1+ 30W printer brings with it a carbon-fiber-filled material for end-use applications that require both high stiffness and superior strength, Nylon 11 CF Powder.

Nylon 11

Nylon 11

Nylon 11 is best for printing thin curved surfaces and thin walls and interior joints for machines and devices with extreme bending forces.

Nylon 11 is high-performance, whereas Nylon 12 is general use nylon. Nylon 11 is engineered for end-use parts that may experience drops or impacts. Nylon 11 is best for parts that require higher ductility, impact resistance, and the ability to withstand wear and tear without brittle failure.

Nylon 11 also has a 50% refresh rate with the Fuse Sift, producing less waste than Nylon 12 (30%) to reduce your cost-per-part.

Nylon 12

Nylon 12

Nylon 12 is best for printing parts that do not require extreme impact resistance and high ductility, like permanent jigs, fixtures and tooling.

For permanent fixtures, casings and enclosures, Nylon 12 is better than Nylon 11 because it offers a balance between surface quality and performance. It’s suitable for prototyping and end-use applications, including basic and complex assemblies, and nylon 12 is also better for small-batch manufacturing and general parts.

In terms of superior features, Nylon 12 has a higher flexural modulus, tensile modulus and heat deflection temperature than Nylon 11.

Nylon 12 GF Powder 

Nylon 12 GF is ideal for applications where structural rigidity and thermal stability are critical. It is a glass-filled material with enhanced stiffness and heat resistance to endure demanding manufacturing conditions.

Nylon 12 GF has higher flexural modulus, tensile modulus and heat deflection temperature than both Nylon 11 and 12.

Nylon 11 CF Powder  

Nylon 11 CF Powder is a strong, carbon-fiber reinforced material that expands on our manufacturing applications allowing users to produce stiff, strong, and lightweight parts in-house.

Nylon 11 CF is ideal for replacement and spare alternatives to metal parts, tooling, jigs and fixtures, high impact equipment and functional composite prototypes.


If you enjoyed this article, be sure to read our introduction to FFF/FDM metals.