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Designing interlocking connections for SLS 3D printing

Designing for SLS, Knowledge | 0 comments

Could you imagine a product made all in one piece? We can, because SLS 3D printing technology makes it possible to print very complicated structures in just one take. But in real life, we are surrounded by objects made from a lot of parts that require to be connected somehow. Designer, even knowing the possibilities of SLS, sometimes needs to create models that are a part of something bigger. From this article, you will learn how to design connections for 3D printed, SLS models.

Sometimes a model that you create would be bigger than the maximum size that your 3D printer can produce. In such case, it is necessary to split the model into pieces that are able to be later joined. So how to design it in a way that makes all the parts capable of being easily attached together. And how to make them detachable or create a movable interlocking connection?

Let me show you the types of connections that are perfect to be used with SLS technology and that can be easily printed with Sinterit Lisa and Lisa PRO. Thanks to the possibilities of this technology, we can do amazing things, and all that without any support structures.

sleeve and groove

Types of connections

We can distinguish two types of connections: permanent and separable.

It seems obvious, but to stay specific: we use permanent connections if there is no need to separate elements in the future. They are perfect if the only purpose is to connect parts of the model that is bigger than the maximum printing size of your device.

The elements can be of course joined using glue, rivets or screws, and it also requires designing dedicated surfaces or elements to make it possible. But in this article I will focus on connection types that don’t require additional resources and are simple to apply thanks to incredible possibilities of SLS 3D printing.

One of the possible solutions is a permanent connection using SLS 3D printed elements such as pins, prgs, hooks etc. If once attached, it is not possible to remove them without damaging the model. Between all these kinds of joints, we can distinguish also visible and non-visible connections. The former are used if they need to be visible (for safety or easy access) and the latter are perfect if the priority is the model’s aesthetics and surface.

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