In stereolithography (commonly known as “SLA” or “SL”), a 3D CAD drawing is turned into a solid object through the repeated solidification of liquid resin by a UV laser. Among the most common additive manufacturing techniques, SLA can produce cosmetically superior parts in as little as 1-2 days.
Our Stereolithography Work
ProtoCAM's proprietary clear bottle finish rivals production clarity
SLA offers a large build envelope
SLA finishing can yield ultra-realistic parts for testing and marketing
SLA provides the finest surface detail
Natural finish stereolithography is an excellent, low-cost prototype choice
Clear finish stereolithography is perfect for creating parts with unrivaled clarity
Standard finish includes a bead-blasted surface for a matte finish
Presentation-level SLA pieces are sanded, primed, and painted
Stereolithography prototypes are also available primed
SLA is ideal for the creation of QuickCast patterns
SLA is one of the more versatile additive manufacturing technologies and goes by many names including SLA prototyping, optical fabrication, photo-solidification, solid-free-form fabrication or solid imaging.
No matter the terminology, the process involves turning a three-dimensional Computer Aided Design (CAD) drawing into a solid object through the rapid, repeated solidification of liquid resin.
To create an SLA prototype or part, a 3D CAD file is digitally “sliced” into horizontal cross-sections between 0.002″ and 0.006″ thick. These “slices” are entered into one of ProtoCAM’s advanced stereolithography 3D printing machines where an ultraviolet laser traces the first layer of the part on a metal plate submerged just below the surface of a vat of photosensitive (light-reacting) polymer. Wherever the laser touches the liquid, it solidifies. Once the layer is traced, the plate sinks the thickness of a layer below the level of the liquid. The next layer is then built upon the previous layer. In this manner, the entire part is built from the bottom up.
Stereolithography in Action
SLA vs. SLS
SLA is often compared and contrasted with selective laser sintering (SLS). There are several key differences between parts created with these two additive manufacturing techniques. These include:
SLA parts can be completed in as little as one to two days, with larger projects taking fewer than five.
SLA parts can achieve tolerances +/- 0.005″ (0.127mm) for the initial inch, plus an additional 0.002″ for each additional inch.
SLA parts typically have a cosmetically superior finish, unlike SLS prototypes, which are typically powdery and granular.
SLA is well suited for small-batch or small-lot manufacturing of prototype or end-use parts.
Typical Stereolithography Use Cases
|Aesthetic models||Form/fit models||Presentation models|
|Clear models||Casting molds||Click here to see available finishes|