Stereolithography (SLA) is the most widely used rapid prototyping technology. It can produce highly accurate and detailed polymer parts. It was the first rapid prototyping process, introduced in 1988 by 3D Systems, Inc., based on work by inventor Charles Hull. It uses a low-power, highly focused UV laser to trace out successive cross-sections of a three-dimensional object in a vat of liquid photosensitive polymer. As the laser traces the layer, the polymer solidifies and the excess areas are left as liquid. When a layer is completed, a leveling blade is moved across the surface to smooth it before depositing the next layer. The platform is lowered by a distance equal to the layer thickness (typically 0.003-0.002 in), and a subsequent layer is formed on top of the previously completed layers. This process of tracing and smoothing is repeated until the build is complete. Once complete, the part is elevated above the vat and drained. Excess polymer is swabbed or rinsed away from the surfaces. In many cases, a final cure is given by placing the part in a UV oven. After the final cure, supports are cut off the part and surfaces are polished, sanded or otherwise finished.

Stereolithography (SLA)
Stereolithography (SLA)


Abbreviation: SLA
Material type: Liquid (Photopolymer)
Materials: Thermoplastics (Elastomers)
Max part size: 59.00 x 29.50 x 19.70 in.
Min feature size: 0.004 in.
Min layer thickness: 0.0010 in.
Tolerance: 0.0050 in.
Surface finish: Smooth
Build speed: Average
Applications: Form/fit testing, Functional testing, Rapid tooling patterns, Snap fits, Very detailed parts, Presentation models, High heat applications

Disclaimer: All process specifications reflect the approximate range of a process's capabilities and should be viewed only as a guide. Actual capabilities are dependent upon the manufacturer, equipment, material, and part requirements.

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