Stereolithography (SLA)

What is SLA?

Also known as: SL

SLA is a high-precision 3D printing technology used for creating prototypes, mold patterns, and production parts. It is one of the best technologies for applications requiring accurate form & fit, or fine details.

Many SLA materials are available including resins that simulate production plastics, high temperature materials, biomedically compatible materials, and others.

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How does SLA work?

A build platform is lowered into a vat of liquid UV-sensitive polymer where a UV laser cures the surface of the liquid and solidifies a single layer of the model. The build platform is dropped a layer at a time and the process is repeated until the part is complete.

Support structures are used to ensure that the model is properly attached to the platform, and to support overhanging features. These supports are carefully removed, and support marks are sanded off of the model after printing.

Applications Using SLA 3D Printing

With the most precision in 3D printing, smooth surface finish, and variety of materials, SLA is ideal for fit, form and function prototypes. Because of its smooth surface finish, SLA can be easily finished and painted to look like an end-use part.

Benefits of SLS:

  • most precise 3D printing technology
  • large build volumes (1500 x 750 x 550mm, 59x29.5x21.6in)
  • smooth surface finish
  • wide variety of materials

Challenges of SLS:

  • parts become brittle over time with exposure to sunlight
  • requires supports
  • not very impact resistant
  • can be more expensive than sls

Design Guidelines for SLA 3D Printing

Minimum Wall Thickness Minimum Feature Size Minimum Space for Interlocking Parts Minimum Size Embossed/Engraved Detail
0.6mm 0.6mm 0.5mm 0.4mm

Escape Holes (2mm-4mm)

Hollowing parts reduces the part volume and saves you money but you need to add escape holes. Be careful, hollowing out a model can cause structural integrity issues.

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