SLA or Stereolithography is a vat polymerization type of additive manufacturing process. This was the first 3D printing process ever developed. In 1981, Dr. Hideo Kodama first attempted to 3D print using the fundamental AM principle of layer by layer manufacturing. But, Charles Hull acquired the patent. Hull also founded 3D Systems. In 1988, 3D System released the first commercial SLA printer.
In SLA printing, a laser or a light source cures the photosensitive resin called photopolymer, layer by layer, creating a 3D object. This process is called photopolymerization. The printer has an inbuilt tank to store the resin, called a vat. At first, a laser or light source hits the resin from the bottom of the tank, curing the resin on an inverted build platform (in the case of desktop printers). Later, the printer platform rises after each layer print finishes. To achieve a smooth resin layer, some printers employ a blade in the printer. This blade moves over the resin bed after each layer to get a smooth layer.
When the printing is complete, the resin is drained and the 3D object is removed. In the post-processing step, alcohol detergent (generally isopropyl alcohol) and later, water cleans the 3D printed part. Around this time, the support structures, if any, are removed from the part. Then, a UV light cures the part to solidify the outer layers. After that, again water cleanses the part from any residual resin. Lastly, the 3D model might require final finishing, depending on the application. SLA printing has the advantage of higher precision and better print quality because here, the layer thickness is governed by a laser, that has a precise motion and a tiny diameter size (minimum diameter 20μm) allowing finer detail and resolution. This improved quality comes at the price of print speed, as drawing out the layer would be more time-consuming.
Printer Build Size:
For the SLA printer, we offer the maximum build size of 510mm × 230mm × 350mm.
SLA Printing Materials:
We provide a wide range of resins for SLA printing. To categorize a few:
- Standard resin: The resin produces moderate strength parts and is brittle. Commonly used in desktop SLA printers, ideal for prototyping aesthetic models.
- Engineering resin: The resins in this category produce versatile material properties. Commonly used resins are flexible resin, durable resin, and castable resins. All these resins create parts with unique properties, depending on the application.
- Medical Grade resin: As the name suggests, these resins are employed for medical applications. For this reason, resins under this category are biocompatible certified. Meaning, these resins would not produce any toxic reaction when in contact with living tissues. Some applications of it are dental retainers, surgical tools, etc.