metal 3d printing

In the era of Industry 4.0, metal 3D printing technology is becoming one of the pioneering trends, bringing major breakthroughs in many industries. Among them, Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technology stands out with its ability to create high-precision and durable metal products. 

The popular SLM printer lines shared here have demonstrated superior performance in applications ranging from medical, aerospace to industrial manufacturing and R&D. Let's explore the outstanding features and diverse applications of today's leading SLM 3D printers. 

1. What is SLM 3D printing technology? 

SLM is also known as selective laser melting, is an advanced metal 3D printing technology that uses a high-power laser to melt and fuse metal powder layer by layer, forming a 3D object according to the design model 

metal 3d printing


  • High precision: Produces highly accurate, detailed 3D parts with complex geometries. 

  • Excellent mechanical properties: The product has physical and mechanical properties almost like monolithic metal, capable of withstanding high loads. 

  • Design freedom: High formability, with minimal shape limitations. 


  • Slow printing speed: The printing process occurs in thin layers, resulting in a relatively slow printing speed compared to other technologies. 

  • High cost: Higher cost of machines, materials, and operation than other 3D printing methods. 


  • Aerospace industry: Manufacturing engine parts, propellers, airframe components, ... 

  • Medical industry: Fabrication of dental implants, hip joints, surgical instruments, .. 

  • Industrial sector: Production of molds, precision parts, machine components, ... 

2. Materials used in SLM printers 

SLM printers employ a variety of powdered metal materials, including: 

  • Steels: 316L stainless steel, Maraging steel, Steel preforms, etc. 

  • Titanium alloys: Ti6Al4V, TiAl6V4, etc. 

  • Aluminum alloys: AlSi10Mg, AlSi12, etc. 

  • Copper alloys: CuCr1Zr, CuNi2Si, etc. 

  • Precious metals: Gold, silver, platinum, etc. 

The selection of the appropriate material depends on the specific application, desired mechanical properties, and compatibility with the printer. 

3. Operating principle of SLM 3D printers 

Selective Laser Melting (SLM) technology is one of the most advanced methods in metal 3D printing, using a laser to create structures from metal powder. Here's a detailed breakdown of the SLM 3D printing process: 

3D printing with SLM technology process diagram

(3D printing with SLM technology process diagram) 

3.1. Metal Powder Preparation and Handling: 

Metal powder is evenly spread onto the printing platform using a powder roller. This process occurs within a protected gas chamber filled with an inert gas like argon or in a vacuum environment to prevent the metal from reacting with air. 

3.2. Digital Model Conversion: 

The CAD design (Computer-Aided Design) of the printed object is converted into thin layers. These layers will guide the laser beam to construct the 3D model layer by layer. 

3.3. Laser Sintering: 

A high-power laser beam scans across the metal powder surface following the contours of the current layer, melting and fusing the metal powder to form a solid layer. This process is repeated until the entire object is fully constructed. 

3.4. Lowering and Raising the Printing Platform: 

After each layer is completed, the printing platform is lowered by a distance equal to the layer thickness, and a new layer of metal powder is spread to continue the sintering process. 

3.5. Post-Processing: 

After printing, the product may require heat treatment and cleaning steps to improve its mechanical and surface properties. Excess unused metal powder is recovered and recycled for subsequent prints, minimizing material waste. 

4. Best SLM Technology 3D printers today 

3D printers using SLM technology are among the most advanced methods for metal 3D printing, allowing the creation of high-precision and high-quality products. Here are some of the top SLM printers currently available, along with their specifications and applications: 

4.1. SLM 125 3D Printer 

With its compact size, high precision, and powerful capabilities, the SLM®125 machine is an ideal choice for applications using low volumes of metal powder. As the smallest product in SLM Solutions' range, the SLM®125 caters to a wide variety of user needs, from rapid prototyping and low-volume production to mass production and scientific research

SLM 125 3D Printer


Build Envelope (L x W x H) 

125 x 125 x 125 mm 

3D Optics Configuration 

Single (1x400W) IPG fiber laser 

Build Rate 

Up to 25 cm3/h 

Variable Layer Thickness 

20µm -  75 µm, 1 µm increments 

Minimum Feature Size 

140 µm 

Beam Focus Diameter 

70 - 100 µm 

Maximum Scan Speed 


Average Inert Gas Consumption in Process 

0.6 l/min (Argon) 

Average Inert Gas Consumption Purging 

70 l/min (Argon)   

Compressed Air Requirement 

ISO 8573-1:2010 [1:4:1] 7 bar 

Dimensions (L x W x H) 

1400 x 900 x 2460 mm 

Outstanding advantages 

  • Compact size and affordable price: Suitable for startups, research labs, and educational institutions. 

  • High Precision: Prints intricate metal 3D parts, meeting stringent technical requirements. 

  • Material Efficiency: Utilizes minimal metal powder, reducing operational costs. 

Applications of the SLM 125 Printer 

Medical Applications: 

  • Implant Production: The SLM 125 printer can create small, precise parts, enabling the manufacturing of implants such as joints, bone screws, and other medical devices. 

  • Surgical Instruments: The high-resolution printing capability (20 micron layer thickness) allows for the fabrication of delicate surgical instruments, meeting stringent requirements for accuracy and smooth surfaces. 

Dental Prostheses

(Dental Prostheses)

Applications in the Aerospace Industry: 

  • Aircraft Components: The ability to print small, load-bearing parts from materials like titanium and aluminum enables the manufacturing of lightweight yet durable aircraft components. 

Applications in Heat Exchangers 

  • Cooling Components: By redesigning the cooling mode with suitable channels using SLM technology, ABB has achieved a significant 80% reduction in TPE cooling time, down to just 6 seconds. This translates to a 75% reduction in the overall manufacturing cycle, down to only 14.7 seconds

Heat Exchanger


4.2. SLM 280 3D Printer 

The SLM®280 Production Series is SLM Solutions' third-generation metal 3D printing platform, delivering breakthrough performance for businesses demanding high-productivity manufacturing lines. Featuring a multi-laser system, closed-loop powder handling, and upgraded process control, the SLM®280 Production Series optimizes printing speed, product quality, and material savings. With the bulding chamber volume 25% larger than comparable machines, it caters to diverse and efficient printing needs. 

SLM®280 Production Series


Build Envelope (L x W x H) 

280 x 280 x 365 mm 

3D Optics Configuration 

Single (1x400W hay 1 x 700W 

Twin (2 x 400W or 2 x 700 W) 

Build Rate 

Up to 113 cm3/h 

Variable Layer Thickness 

20µm -  90 µm 

Minimum Feature Size 

150 µm 

Beam Focus Diameter 

80 - 115 µm 

Maximum Scan Speed 


Average Inert Gas Consumption in Process 

13 l/min (Argon) 

Average Inert Gas Consumption Purging 

160 l/min (Argon)   

Compressed Air Requirement 

ISO 8573-1:2010 7 bar 

Dimensions (L x W x H) 

4150 x 1200 x 2525 mm 

Outstanding advantages 

  • High Productivity: Multi-laser system and large building chamber volume enable high-volume production. 

  • High Precision and Quality: Meets the demands of manufacturing applications requiring precision and excellent mechanical properties. 

  • Closed-loop Powder Handling System: Ensures safety, cleanliness, and material efficiency. 

Applications of the SLM 280 Printer 

Industrial Manufacturing Applications: 

  • Engine Components: The SLM 280 is suitable for printing complex, heat-resistant, and load-bearing engine parts, enhancing engine performance and lifespan. 

  • Molds: The ability to print large parts with high precision enables the creation of accurate molds for casting and other manufacturing processes. 

Krueger Gooseneck with lattice structure design

(Krueger Gooseneck with lattice structure design) 


Applications in the Automotive Industry: 

  • Automotive Components: The SLM 280 can print automotive parts such as components within the engine system, braking system, and other load-bearing elements, meeting high demands for durability and safety. 

4.3. SLM 800 

The SLM®800 is a groundbreaking metal 3D printer with an extended Z-axis, catering to the production of large-scale metal parts. The machine is equipped with the capability to connect multiple machines via the SLM® HUB, opening up new possibilities for large-scale industrial metal additive manufacturing

SLM 800


Build Envelope (L x W x H) 

500 x 280 x 850 mm 

3D Optics Configuration 

Quad (4x 700 W) IPG fiber laser 

Build Rate 

Up to 171 cm3/h 

Variable Layer Thickness 

20µm -  90 µm 

Minimum Feature Size 

150 µm 

Beam Focus Diameter 

80 - 115 µm 

Maximum Scan Speed 


Average Inert Gas Consumption in Process 

5-7 l/min (Argon) 

Average Inert Gas Consumption Purging 

70 l/min (Argon)   

Compressed Air Requirement 

ISO 8573-1:2010 [1:4:1], 50 l/min @ 6 bar 

Dimensions (L x W x H) 

Depend on setup 

Outstanding Advantages 

  • Large-scale Printing Capability: Extended Z-axis accommodates the production of large-sized metal parts. 

  • Multi-machine Connectivity: Enhances efficiency and productivity for large-scale manufacturing. 

  • Advanced Printing Technology: Ensures high precision, quality, and formability. 

Applications of the SLM 800 Printer 

Mass Production Applications: 

  • Large-part Manufacturing: With a large build volume (500 x 280 x 850 mm) and fast printing speeds, the SLM 800 is suitable for mass production of large metal parts, particularly in the aerospace and automotive industries 

Applications in the Oil and Gas Industry: 

  • High-pressure Equipment: The ability to print large and complex parts from high-temperature and high-pressure materials such as stainless steel and nickel alloys enables the production of high-pressure equipment for the oil and gas industry. 

Applications in Research and Development: 

  • New Material Development: The ability to process new and complex materials allows R&D centers to experiment with and create new materials with superior properties. 


SLM 3D printing technology is opening up new frontiers for industrial manufacturing and development, with the capability to create intricate and high-quality metal parts that were unattainable through traditional methods. 

metal 3d printing

SLM 125, SLM 280, and SLM 800 metal 3D printers have demonstrated their versatility and performance in a wide range of applications, from medical manufacturing to aerospace and automotive. Selecting the right printer empowers businesses to fully leverage the benefits of SLM technology, driving continuous growth and innovation. 

Explore in detail: 3D Metal Printers 

Authorized Distributor of Leading SLM Metal 3D Printers in Vietnam 

Vinnotek proudly serves as an authorized Nikon SLM Solutions distributor in Vietnam. We offer a comprehensive range of metal 3D printers tailored to the specific needs and requirements of businesses in many industries. 

Beyond partnering with leading 3D printing companies, Vinnotek boasts a team of engineers equipped with extensive knowledge and practical experience in this transformative technology. We are committed to providing suitable and innovative solutions that streamline and enhance the manufacturing processes of each company 

Please contact us to take your business's production process to the next level! 



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