Stereolithography

Benefits

  • Very fine resolution
  • Parts can be solid or hollow
  • Tight tolerances

Disadvantages

  • ​Slow build times
  • Can be expensive for complex models

How it works

Stereolithography (SLA) was the first additive manufacturing technology, being invented in the 1980s.​ SLA printing uses a laser to trace out slices of a 3D liquid photopolymer resin curing the light activated resin in specific areas first to a build plate then to subsequent layers. Once a build is complete, the excess resin is washed off using a light solvent and then is post-cured with heat or UV light, or both.

Additional Considerations

  • Because SLA only uses one material, support removal often leaves behind small dimples and pimples.
  • Because the point of the laser is very fine, SLA printers produce parts with a very smooth surface finish with fine details.
  • The photopolymer resins vary between manufacturers with a range between prototyping, engineering, and TPU materials.
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