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What is stereolithography printing?

  • Author:June
  • Source:www.xy-global.com
  • Release on:2022-04-15
What is stereolithography printing?
Stereolithography (SLA) is the first commercially available 3D printing technology, invented in the 1980s by Chuck Hull, co-founder and CTO of 3D Systems. The technology uses an ultraviolet laser to precisely cure a photopolymer cross-section, transforming it from a fluid to a solid. Parts are built layer-by-layer directly from CAD data into prototypes, investment casting models, tools, and end-use parts.

Once the SLA printing process is complete, the SLA part is cleaned in a solution to remove any remaining uncured resin on the surface of the part. The cleaned parts are then cured in a UV curing oven.

SLA is all about precision and accuracy, so it's often used in processes where shape, fit, and assembly are highly demanding. Tolerances for SLA parts are typically less than 0.05mm, and it provides the smoothest surface finish of any additive manufacturing process. Due to the excellent quality of SLA, it is especially suitable for creating high-precision casting molds (such as injection molding, casting and vacuum casting) and functional prototypes, display models and for performing shape and fit inspections. SLA is a very comprehensive technique that can be used in any field where precision is paramount.

SLA also has speed advantages, especially if you need to make various functional prototypes or quickly make casting molds. SLA's perfect combination of speed and accuracy makes it an excellent choice for evaluating prototypes. Thanks to the precision benefits of SLA, the printed product stays true to the final design, which means you can identify and correct design flaws, conflicts, and potential high-volume production obstacles before production begins. For parts typically produced using polypropylene or ABS as the material for low to medium volume production, SLA offers comparable properties without the need for expensive and inefficient die change processes for customization or necessary tool changes. SLA also enables lower material costs, as unused resin remains in the barrel for subsequent projects.

Since SLA parts may require the use of support structures, post-processing is often required, which also presents an opportunity for new types of parts. SLA parts can be steam polished, shot or sandblasted, and can even be plated with metals such as nickel. Not only does electroplating significantly increase the strength of an SLA part, it also makes the part conductive and increases dimensional stability in wet environments.
SLA application
The high quality of SLA parts provides the smoothest surface finish of any additive manufacturing process, making this versatile technology ideal for:
• Design Verification Models for Appearance and Proof of Concept Models
• Functional prototypes and models for configuration and fit testing
• Wind tunnel test model
• High-definition, transparent products and components
• Complex assemblies
• Hood internal components
• Mass customization

Dies and Models
• Investment casting models
• Metal casting loss model
• Custom assembly jigs and fixtures
• Tooling, Cavity Dies and Stamping Dies
• Cast urethane/vacuum casting masters

Biocompatible Materials
• Surgical tools/guides
• Dental instruments
• Hearing aids

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