Short for stereolithography, this form of printing has grown in popularity exponentially recently. Before you click away confused at the long word, you aren’t about to read a detailed scientific report because SLA printing is just a form of 3D printing. It’s one of the techniques that has been adopted in these early stages of 3D printing and one that is now used widely both in a commercial sense and in homes around the world.
What’s SLA 3D Printing?
Just to clear any confusion, SLA printing solutions from Amiga Engineering is a form of 3D printing and additive manufacturing technology that has swept the world in recent years. Ultimately, it follows resin 3D printing principles with a projector, laser, or another light source as the focal point. This light source helps to cure resin into the hardened plastic that we see at the end.
When comparing the many different 3D printing technologies, most of the differences are found with the physical components. For example, they use different light sources, or the design of the resin tank and build platform differ somewhat.
With SLA, it uses resin – otherwise known as a light-reactive thermoset material. If you want to understand the science behind the technique, chemical oligomers and monomers are created using photochemical processes. As they cross-link together, they form polymers, and this allows engineers to design models, products, patterns, and prototypes.
Over time, the product is built layer by layer. Although we think of 3D printing as a brand-new niche, the term stereolithography was first used back in 1984. What’s more, research into the area can be traced back to a decade earlier.
Benefits of SLA 3D Printing
Whether you’re interested in the science behind SLA printing or not, the field is growing, and it’s hard to ignore. But why?
For one thing, it allows manufacturers and engineers precision when printing products, prototypes, and complex parts. In SLA printing, each layer tends to measure between just 5mm and 10mm. With thin layers and an extremely fine laser beam, it’s one of the best ways to print complex shapes and patterns.
What’s more, SLA printing works with several resins and this allows for more control for manufacturers. Either way, the result is a smooth surface.
Often, people think that you must sacrifice quality to print with resin (a substitute material). However, this isn’t the case at all, and those printing with SLA machines will argue the same point. Products are both high in quality and functional.
Over the years, many misconceptions have developed in the field of 3D printing. For example, some will say that no machine can print both small, intricate products as well as large products. Since this is a misconception, you’ve probably guessed that this is wrong, and SLA printing proves it.
In fact, this is why SLA printing is gaining popularity. From one hour to the next, manufacturers can go from making complex, intricate small products to sizable products. Whether printing small or large, it always seems to maintain a precision not possible with other techniques.
Finally, SLA printing is also popular because of the cost and time savings that it provides for businesses. SLA works by continually adding material, so you don’t need a mould. With this, the cost of projects reduces, and the printing time is also beneficial for engineers and manufacturers.
While SLA printing does have limitations – namely the cost of machines, fragility, and problems with mass production – the benefits outweigh these drawbacks. In the years ahead, SLA printing is only likely to keep growing!