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SLA - Stereolithography

Stereolithography (SLA) is an additive manufacturing method in which an ultraviolet laser is used to solidify a liquid polymer layer by layer.

Objects are built in a tank filled with liquid photopolymer , which is a plastic which reacts to light. An adjustable building platform is initially placed in its highest position, only covered by a thin layer of photopolymer. A movable mirror controls the ultraviolet laser beam, and draw out the cross section of a CAD model on the platform, which solidifies the plastic. The platform is lowered so that the previous layer is now covered by a new, thin layer of liquid. The laser beam solidifies a new layer which is then joined with the previous layer.

Support structures can be created if needed, if the liquid cannot support the weight of the overhanging parts of the component. The process is repeated until the object is completed and the finished part is usually cleaned by ultrasound and alcohol. Support structures are removed and the object is cured in a UV oven. Non solidified liquid can be recycled to produce new items.

A common variation to the method is that the detail is built from below hanging from the building platform and the laser beam instead cures the polymer through the tank's translucent bottom.

SLA Method

How Does Stereolithography Work?

Stereolithography is a laser-based technology that uses a UV-sensitive liquid resin. A UV laser beam scans the surface of the resin and selectively hardens the material corresponding to a cross section of the product, building the 3D part from the bottom to the top. The required supports for overhangs and cavities are automatically generated, and later manually removed.

Why choose Stereolithography?

When you need a part printed yesterday and delivered right now, Stereolithography is what you want to be looking at. It’s a technology that produces great looking models with impeccable surface quality in no time. At Materialise, we’ve also developed our own patented Mammoth Stereolithography machines that let us build and ship parts in less than a day. And they even give you the freedom to 3D print parts up to 2 meters long in a single build.


Precision, fine detail

Smooth finish

Ability to create large parts with high definition

Bio compatible materials

Large material Library


Dealing with the resin (although some companies now supply this in a cartridge)

Can only print in 1 material 

Parts created in SLA are more fragile than FDM

Typically requires some post processing

Other 3D Printing Technologies


Fused Deposition Modelling


Bound Metal Deposition


Digital Light Processing

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