Protolabs Q&A: Direct Metal Laser Sintering Part 2

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Protolabs’ Insight podcast series

Our Insight podcast series is aimed to help you design better parts for digital manufacturing.

We will regularly share with you podcasts packed with useful tips that will hopefully save you some time and money, from Q&A sessions to design tips.


In this episode we answer your questions on DMLS with Tasos Pantelis, an Application Engineer at Protolabs and our 3D Champion for Europe. See below for a list of questions answered in this session:
  • In general, where is a break even point between this process and standard machine items, in reference to the number of items produced?
  • How much does the resolution setting effect component price?
  • What is the maximum size/mass that can currently be made?
  • What level of porosity is present in a DMLS part? are secondary operations required to achieve pressure tightness?
  • Cost wise, how does the cost of DMLS compare to other rapid prototype methods such as SLA/SLS? is there a part size limit?
  • Can a single part be printed with 2 or more materials in one go?
  • I see that you are ISO-13485 certified for medical implants with a choice of two biocompatible materials. Is there any specific process you use for them to ensure biocompatibility?
  • Where does post-machining come in on DMLS? Can you polish parts? How do you ensure consistency as well as accuracy?
  • Are there methods to improve the finish during manufacture, for example, for internal curves and volumes?
  • What advantages and disadvantages are there regarding DMLS, and a comparison to other methods such as EBM?
  • Do you employ post-printing manufacturing methods to improve the properties of DMLS made components? For example, chemical etching, hot isostatic pressing (HIP), electroplating.
  • What are the main challenges you see with 3D printing metals today, and the work being done at a company like Protolabs to overcome these challenges?