The University of Waterloo requires each graduating Mechatronics Engineering student to participate in a 4th year design project. Our team of 4 Mechatronics Engineering students has designed and constructed a fully functional Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)-type 3D printer which is capable of printing common thermo-plastic powders, with a special focus on chocolate powder. Currently on the market, SLS-type 3D printers are among the most expensive 3D printer to purchase whereas FDM-type are significantly cheaper. The purpose of this project is to make a prototype small-business/hobbyist SLS printer of comparable cost to that of FDM printers currently on the market, such as the Makerbot Replicator, by reducing the complexity of the laser and optical assembly.
3D printing is an additive manufacturing process of creating three dimensional solid objects from digital 3D models. This is accomplished by extruding, sintering, or curing the print material in successive 2D layers to form a final 3D object.This technology has been adapted by numerous industries to provide a ‘rapid prototyping’ solution.
Complex and unique objects which would be infeasible to produce using conventional mass-production methods can now be produced at a low cost, low quantity scale using 3D printing. It has found a place in research and development in many industries because of these advantages and will continue to gain popularity in the consumer market as the technology improves and becomes less expensive.