January 1, 2009
“Sintering” is not an everyday word for most people—it means using laser energy to melt and fuse particles. It’s traditionally applied to metal, but nowadays it works very well on certain varieties of plastic such as polyamide.
A technician at EOS GmbH begins the process of rapid-manufacturing a Trabecula bench by placing a metal bucket in one of the Selective Laser Sintering machines. The bucket is filled with powdered polyamide—the type of plastic best suited for this process.
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Inside the selective laser sintering machine, Kyttänen's Trabecula bench is created by successively adding material in layers that are only 1/12-mm thick.
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The machine lays down an exact, 1/12-mm thick, layer of powdered polyamide—each layer represents a horizotal cross-section of Kyttänen's digital design—and a laser selectively melts and fuses individual particles of the thermo-plastic. As each layer is finished, the build-bucket inches downward to accommodate the next layer of powder.
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freedom of creation trabecula bench sintering machine prep
A technician at EOS GmbH begins the process of rapid-manufacturing a Trabecula bench by placing a metal bucket in one of the Selective Laser Sintering machines. The bucket is filled with powdered polyamide—the type of plastic best suited for this process.

The Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) machine first sets down very thin layers of powdered polyamide with a spreader; they form what Kyttänen calls “a building platform.” A laser beam then passes over from the top, melting the layer locally, thus solidifying the powder and creating the product “according to the 3-D file that the slicing program has created.” Those two steps alternate, layer by layer, until the entire form is sintered. It takes about a day and a half to bond the Trabecula bench, and another 12 to 15 hours for the material to cool. The machine works 24 hours a day—no cigarette breaks. “Eventually,” says Kytännen, “what you have is this big bucket full of powder, and you break it open and take out the parts. Then you can reuse the powder that comes off.”

freedom of creation trabecula bench sintering machine in process
Inside the selective laser sintering machine, Kyttänen's Trabecula bench is created by successively adding material in layers that are only 1/12-mm thick.

freedom of creation trabecula bench sintering
The machine lays down an exact, 1/12-mm thick, layer of powdered polyamide—each layer represents a horizotal cross-section of Kyttänen's digital design—and a laser selectively melts and fuses individual particles of the thermo-plastic. As each layer is finished, the build-bucket inches downward to accommodate the next layer of powder.

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