What is Stereolithography?

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One of the most popular processes, SLA provides high quality prototypes at good prices.
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Stereolithography (SLA) is one of the oldest rapid prototyping technologies, yet it remains one of the most popular processes due to its high quality models and reasonable prices.

How It Works
Stereolithography is an additive manufacturing process. The machine builds up layer upon layer of the 3D model, starting with the bottom layer. After some hours have passed, the model is finished.

The material used is a liquid photopolymer, which feels similar to plastic when hardened. The build tray sits inside a vat of the liquid and a laser system aims at specific points on the tray to harden the appropriate sections for each layer. After each layer is finished, the tray drops so that the machine can begin the next layer. Support structures are created to help with overhanging features.

Typical Uses
  • Rapid Prototypes
  • Mold Patterns
  • Production Parts
Costs
Example quotes for a 2-inch sphere:
Process Qty 1 Qty 10
SLA $376 each $109 each
SLS $501 each $121 each
FDM $182 each $154 each
PolyJet $479 each $139 each
Machined Plastic $458 each $139 each
Urethane Castings N/A $120 each
So, you can see how volume discounts can be a big factor, especially for processes that are slow in the vertical direction.

For More Information
Wikipedia article

See the Next Article: Selective Laser Sintering

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