Happy New Year and wishing all our friends and readers an exciting new year ahead! To kickstart 2019, we begin by sharing about SLA – well-known for being the first 3D printing technology and still commonly used today.
Stereolithography (SLA) is an additive manufacturing process which uses a UV laser to convert liquid photopolymer resin into solid objects. A recoater blade moves across the surface to ensure each layer of resin spreads evenly. Once completed, the 3D part will usually have a chemical bath to remove any excess resin.
Below are some of the advantages and disadvantages of SLA:
Advantages: 1) Parts produced by SLA have very intricate details and high dimensional accuracy. 2) Parts produced by SLA are good visual prototypes as they have a very smooth surface finish. 3) SLA is generally low cost and widely available.
Disadvantages: 1) Parts produced by SLA are not suitable for functional prototypes as they are generally brittle. 2) Parts produced by SLA will degrade overtime when the parts are exposed to sunlight, and this will affect the mechanical properties and visual appearance of the parts. 3) Parts produced by SLA will always require support structures and post-processing is necessary to remove the visual marks due to the support removal.