What Does Stereolithography (SLA) Mean?


What Does Stereolithography (SLA) Mean?

An additive manufacturing technique called stereolithography (SLA) creates durable prototypes, patterns, and items from CAD blueprints. SLA makes it possible to weave prototypes out of solid plastic using a laser beam gun powered by CAD.

Optical fabrication, photo-solidification, solid free form solidification, and solid imaging are further names for stereolithography.

Techopedia Explains Stereolithography (SLA)

Smaller 3-D models and prototypes can be quickly built using SLA, and individual parts can be produced in a matter of hours. Similar to other additive manufacturing techniques, SLA builds a model in layers. Each layer’s substance is made of curable photopolymer or liquid plastic. Layer after layer, up until all layers are drawn onto the liquid surface by the ultraviolet laser. Once a layer is complete, it is exposed to ultraviolet laser light, which solidifies the layer and enables it to meld with the one before it.


How Does It Work?



The initial step in additive manufacturing techniques is the creation of a 3D model using CAD software. The intended object is represented digitally in the generated CAD files.

The CAD files must be converted into STL files if they are not created automatically as such.

The stereolithographic software developed by the Abert Consulting Group exclusively for 3D Systems in 1987 uses a native file format called standard tessellation language (STL), sometimes known as “standard triangle language).

The surface geometry of the 3D object is described in STL files, whereas other typical CAD model properties like color and texture are ignored.

The pre-printer step is to feed an STL file into a 3D slicer software, such as Cura. Such platforms are responsible for generating G-code, the native language of 3D printers.

SLA 3D Printing

When the process starts, the laser “draws” the first layer of the print into the photosensitive resin. Wherever the laser hits, the liquid solidifies. The laser is directed to the appropriate coordinates by a computer-controlled mirror.

The construction of a 3D model using CAD software is the first stage in additive manufacturing procedures. The created CAD files digitally depict the required product.

If the STL files are not generated automatically, the CAD files must be converted into them.

Standard tessellation language (STL), often known as “standard triangle language,” is the native file format used by the stereolithographic software created by the Abert Consulting Group solely for 3D Systems in 1987.

While STL files only define the 3D object’s surface geometry, they neglect CAD model characteristics like color and texture.


The platform emerges from the tank after the material has finished polymerizing, and any extra resin is drained. The model is taken off the platform at the conclusion of the procedure, cleaned of extra resin, and then put in a UV oven for final curing. Objects can achieve their maximum strength and become more robust with post-print curing.

Alternative Process: Digital Light Processing

Digital light processing is a descendent of SLA, as we previously stated (DLP). DLP, in contrast to SLA, flashes a single image of each layer across the entire platform using a digital projector screen. Each layer of the projection will be made up of square pixels as the projector is a digital screen. As a result, a DLP printer’s resolution relates to pixel size, but an SLA printer’s resolution relates to laser spot size.

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