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Stereolithography: Pros and Cons

Stereolithography: Pros and Cons

Pros


SLA is perhaps the most accurate functional prototyping technique on the market.

Prototypes can be created with extremely high quality, with finely detailed features (thin walls, sharp corners, etc…) and complex geometrical shapes. Layer thicknesses can be made as low as 25 μm, with minimum feature sizes between 50 and 250 μm.

SLA provides the tightest dimensional tolerances of any rapid prototyping or additive manufacturing technology: +/- 0.005″ (0.127 mm) for the first inch, and an additional 0.002″ for each additional inch.

Print surfaces are smooth.

Build volumes can be as high as 50 x 50 x 60 cm³ without sacrificing precision.


Cons


The print process is typically slow: Depending on the size and number of objects being created, the laser might take a minute or two for each layer. Large objects require long runs.

Steep slopes and overhangs require support structures during the building process. Such parts may potentially collapse during printing or curing phases.

Resins are comparatively fragile and therefore not suitable for functional prototypes or mechanical testing.

SLA 3D Printer offers limited material and color choice, usually offering black, white, grey and clear material. Resins are oftentimes proprietary and therefore cannot be easily exchanged between printers from different brands.

SLA printing costs are comparatively high (e.g. machine, materials, lab environment).


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