Introduction to Stereolithography

Take a closer look at the stereolithography (SLA) print process, and see how Formlabs prints compare to parts made from an extrusion-based fused deposition modeling (FDM) 3D printer:

The Form 1+ is a stereolithography 3D printer. Today, we’re going to look at how it works and put it to the test against parts from an extrusion based machine.

Let’s start by taking a closer look at the printer. When we open up the light blocking cover, we can see a build platform inside. This metal plate is where the parts are made.

Underneath the build platform is a liquid resin tank.This clear window gives the ultraviolet laser a path to cure the resin.

To start a print, we’ll upload a file, and fill up the resin tank to the indicator line. You can see the laser passing back and forth inside, hardening the liquid plastic.

Now, We’ll take our print out and wash it in rubbing alcohol to get the excess resin off. The flower comes with supports on it, and we’ll snip them off to finish the piece.

Stereolithography is known for producing extreme detail, with layers down to four times finer than a human hair.

The Form 1+ let’s us take advantage of a library of materials, so we made some other parts to show what these resins can do.

A Castable Resin gives jewelers and engineers an inexpensive way to produce metal parts. This Flexible Resin is great for simulating different textures and as we can see, this Tough Resin and can really take a hit.

Now let’s compare how the Form 1+ parts stand up against a filament printer. The stereolithography print comes out nice and smooth, but we can see and feel the ridges on the cup printed with filament.

When we break this sample piece, you can see that filament parts quickly snap along the layer lines,. The SLA process creates a chemical bond, so our prints takes much more force.

Today, we took a look at how stereolithography printers work, the types of resins they can print with, and what makes the parts stand out against other desktop machines.

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