Surface roughness in 3D printing

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What is the average surface roughness of different additive manufacturing processes? I’m mostly interested in SLS and MJF, is there is a big difference between these two? I couldn’t find much on this topic so any feedback would be very much appreciated

Solved by Nikolaus Mroncz

We conducted experiments in-house with SLS and MJF 3D prints and we actually have some concrete data to share. We measured the surface roughness of SLS prints with different surface finishes: PA12 raw part (approximately 8 µm), PA12 bead blasted (4.5 µm) vs PA12 vapour polished + dyed black (2.5 µm). And we did the same for MJF prints and 5 other 3D printing technologies. I would recommend you to check our article on this topic: https://xometry.pro/en-eu/articles/3d-printing-surface-roughness/

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      What is the average surface roughness of different additive manufacturing processes? I’m mostly interested in SLS and MJF, is there is a big difference between these two? I couldn’t find much on this topic so any feedback would be very much appreciated

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    • In my experience, surface roughness can vary quite a bit between SLS and MJF processes. SLS tends to produce a slightly rougher surface compared to MJF due to the nature of the laser sintering process and the powder bed fusion technique. But both methods can achieve relatively smooth surfaces with proper parameter optimization and post-processing techniques like sanding or polishing.

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      • Xometry Engineer
        TechCrafter

        The roughness of a surface depends on a variety of factors, including the design of the part, the manufacturing process used to create it and the manufacturer. Even if you select a 3D printing technology with a supposedly great surface finish, the parts might still present some stepping marks or have a slightly curved surface, causing a decreased surface roughness quality.

        You can keep in mind that the MJF process produces a less porous surface compared to SLS, and has a smoother texture. And as you said, a near-perfect poreless surface can be achieved in both MJF and SLS thanks to post-processing operations like vapour smoothing and bead blasting.

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        Nikolaus Mroncz

        Do you have concrete numbers? I’ve conducted some research on this topic, and there isn’t an extensive amount of data comparing surface roughness in SLS and MJF…

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      • Xometry Engineer
        EngineerNearby38

        We conducted experiments in-house with SLS and MJF 3D prints and we actually have some concrete data to share. We measured the surface roughness of SLS prints with different surface finishes: PA12 raw part (approximately 8 µm), PA12 bead blasted (4.5 µm) vs PA12 vapour polished + dyed black (2.5 µm). And we did the same for MJF prints and 5 other 3D printing technologies. I would recommend you to check our article on this topic: https://xometry.pro/en-eu/articles/3d-printing-surface-roughness/

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Surface roughness in 3D printing
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