Selective Laser Sintering 3D printers, more commonly called SLS 3D printers, have long been the most expensive among 3D printing technologies, not the least of which was due to the existence of many patents related to the tech. With those patents expiring this year, the cost of these printers — though certainly not “budget-friendly” in the traditional sense — have seen a drastic drop in price.
SLS 3D printers pose some issues that the more commonly used technologies (FDM and SLA) don’t, using potentially dangerous methods to create objects in ways that alternatives do not. That hasn’t stopped some companies with forging ahead to create cheaper alternatives than have previously been available.
As GigaOm points out, Sharebot has pushed out an SLS printer that has a price tag under $27,000 — lower than previous offerings, but certainly nothing the average user is going to run out and buy. There’s also an SLS printer being crowdfunded by Norge priced at $8,300 USD.
Though an individual is still quite unlikely to run out and grab one, with the availability of cheaper SLS printers, companies won’t have to invest nearly as much into the technology, further increasing their adoption by small businesses and such.