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Fabricate, Processes & Materials

SLA 3D Printing Technology

Stereolithography (SLA) is an additive manufacturing process that cures a photo-reactive resin using a UV laser to bind layers together.


What is SLA (Stereolithography)?

Stereolithography (SLA or SL; also known as optical fabrication, photo-solidification, solid free-form fabrication and solid imaging) is an additive manufacturing technology used for producing models, prototypes, patterns, and complete parts by curing a photo-reactive resin with a UV laser or another similar power source.

Stereolithography requires the use of supporting structures which serve to attach the part to the elevator platform, prevent deflection due to gravity and hold the cross sections in place so that they resist lateral pressure from the re-coater blade.In some instances of the technology, an SLA printed model rises away from its build-plate organically, accumulating one layer at a time from its resin bath.

Although stereolithography can produce a wide variety of shapes with incredible detail, it is often expensive; the cost of photo-curable resin ranges from $80 to $210 per liter. The cheapest commercially available SLA printer (The Peachy Printer) uses novel software and hardware to produce small but detailed models. Another Kickstarter printer retails for 1700-2000 USD and will be sold during 2014. The next cheapest costs more than 3000 USD. Production machines cost as much as 500,000 USD.

Materials

  • VisiClear has a hard material property with transparent characteristics.

Benefits

  • Detail: Ability to print small details and features.
  • Fit: Enables fitting of multiple small pieces.

Considerations

  • Lead time: Usually 3-5 days.
  • Cleaning: This process requires the most post-processing work and can be expensive.
  • Material options: Less material options than Polyjet.
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