What is Powder Bed Fusion 3D Printing?

Posted on Apr 03, 2020 by Cullen Hikene

Powder bed fusion is a 3D Printing process that involves selectively melting powdered material with a focused energy source. Available for both plastic (SLS) and metal printing (DMLS, EBM, SLM, LaserCUSING, DMP), powder bed fusion offers highly accurate parts and outstanding geometric flexibility. It is generally best for parts under a cubic meter in size.

3Diligent example technologies: powder bed fusion

What are the Different Types of Powder Bed Fusion Technologies?

  1. Material Extrusion (Plastic, Filament)
  2. Powder Bed Fusion (Metal, Laser)
  3. Powder Bed Fusion (Plastic, Laser)
  4. Powder Bed Fusion (Metal, Electron Beam)
  5. Powder Bed Fusion (Plastic, Chemical)


What are the Advantages of Powder Bed Fusion?

  • Durable Parts. Sintered thermoplastic parts can withstand moderate wear with relative isotropy. Metal printed parts are stronger than cast parts.
  • Material Selection. Choose from more than 20 materials with a range of properties.
  • Intricate Geometries. Loose powder provides support to printed features above, allowing for geometries otherwise impossible.
  • As-built Assemblies. Observing the minimum clearance, SLS can produce multi-part assemblies in a single run.

What are the Limitations of Powder Bed Fusion?

  • Tall, Unsupported Structures. Relayering operation can damage tall features that are not properly supported.
  • Surface Finish. Abrasive stock finish requires post-processing to smooth.
  • Hollow Cavities. Internal hollow cavities need to be perforated to drain unused material.


3Diligent example processes: electron beam melting

Key Metrics

Standard Tolerance
0.005″ (0.125mm)

Stock Surface Finish
300-450 µin Ra

Lead Time
2-10 Business Days

Maximum Size
14″×14″×15″ (350mm × 350mm × 380mm)

Minimum Layer Thickness
0.001″ (.025mm)

Minimum Feature Size
.005″ (0.125mm)

Minimum Wall Thickness
0.04″ (1mm)


Powder Bed Fusion is an emerging technology in the 3D Printing space, quickly gaining popularity due to the unique geometries and overall durability of its parts. Consider submitting an RFQ through manufacturing services such as ProdEX to get started today.

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