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Overview: Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography (SLA) is an industrial 3D printing process used to create concept models, cosmetic prototypes, and complex parts with intricate geometries in as fast as 1 day. A wide selection of materials, extremely high feature resolutions, and quality surface finishes are possible with SLA. SLA is a go-to choice for 3D printed models that require accurate features and a smooth surface finish.

How Does SLA 3D Printing Work?

A photosensitive suspension (photopolymer resin) is exposed by light (of certain wavelength) so it cures. The exposure pattern for each 3D slice is defined by a 2D photo mask (ultraviolet (UV) laser, UV light projector/DLP or LCD). After a layer is photocured, the Z axis moves up for the next layer of the 3D object. An FEP film clamped against the glass is used as the release layer.

Stereolithography (SLA)
Stereolithography (SLA) works

There exist three common photo mask and light source combinations:
-ultraviolet (UV) laser
-Digital light processing (DLP) projector and UV lamp
-LCD panel and UV lamp
The type of photopolymer resin used (visible-light-curing or ultraviolet (UV)-curing) has to match the type of photo mask and light source combination.
Example:
-resin: UV-curing resin with absorption range 250 to 450 nm
-light source: UV lamp/LED 405 nm
-photo mask: LCD panel allowing to pass the UV lamp frequency

Why Use SLA?

SLA 3D prints are often used for final fit checks before moving to injection molding services. Stereolithography is an additive manufacturing process that can 3D print parts with small features, tight tolerance requirements, and smooth surface finishes.

Benefits of SLA 3D Printing

Advantages
Surface & Detail
SLA has tolerances of +/-.004” per inch, and resin surface is ideal for post-processing like polishing and painting.
Cose Saving
SLA is one of the cheapest method for rapid prototyping while preserving a good surface quality and accuracy.
Geometry
SLA allows to integrate multiple components as well as thin-walled objects and intricate geometries that traditional method won’t be capable of.
Turnaround
SLA 3D printed parts do not require tooling which reduces the manufacturing lead time from weeks to days, allowing for faster innovation and speed to market.
Material Selection
There’re various material with special properties like toughness, heat resistance, flexibility, which simulates the end products.
Scalable Volume
Multiple, identical parts can be built on a single platform at one time, greatly increasing production efficiency.
Drawbacks
Durability
Photopolymers are not stable over time and most resins don’t have balanced impact/heat resistance.
Scale Effect
The unit cost and lead time will not be reduced as much as casted or molded parts.

Our SLA 3D printing service

Requirement Specification
Maximum build size 1700 x 800 x 600 mm
Minimum feature size 0.05 mm
Minimum layer thickness 0.02 mm
Typical surface finish 3 – 10 microns RA

The table below depicts the general tolerances for industrial-grade stereolithography (SLA) services. Stresses during the build, support strategy and other geometry considerations may cause deviation in tolerances and flatness. Improved tolerances may be possible with a manual quote review, after successful completion of a prototype build, and must be approved on a case-by-case basis.

Stereolithography Common Materials

SLA Materials Available at PCBWay:

Our standard surface finishes

Here is a list of standard surface finishes. For custom surface finishes such as electroplating or polishing, please contact sales@pcbway.com.
Spray painting
Get painted according to the color pattern provided by the customer (Including matte paint, high-gloss paint, electroplating-imitation paint, varnish, leather paint,etc).
Spray painting
Polished
The surface texture is polished in a variety of ways to meet the actual needs of customers. The transparent parts can be polished accordingly to improve transparency and light transmittance.
Polished
Electroplating
Provide electroplating services, improve the overall strength of the parts, provide metal-like surface texture, and make it have certain metal characteristics.
Metal plating
Inlay nut
At the specific bottom hole position that needs to be processed, the internal thread is processed.
Inlay nut
Glazing assembly
The surface of the part is glazed to better imitate the appearance of handicrafts. Have mature assembly experience to ensure the overall display of the product.
Glazing assembly
Reinforced coating
The unique outer coating processing ability improves the strength of the product structure, reduces external wear, and can better avoid damage caused by normal storage and use.
Reinforced coating
Testing Service
A variety of measuring equipment provides reasonable measure services according to the actual needs of customers.
Testing Service