Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography (SLA)/ Direct light Processing (DLP)


How to print 3D using the method Stereolithography (SLA) or Direct light Processing (DLP)? Except from being the 3D printing technique that is hardest to pronounce (try saying ”stereolithography” or ”photopolymerization” ten times in a row!), this manufacturing method only liquids and laser. No powder, no metals, no chocolate or other cleggy stuff. Just plain and simple photopolymer. Photopolymer come in many liquid variations but has the ability to become solid when exposed to light. This unique chemical process is called photopolymerization. When building 3D objects using photopolymerization a vat of liquid photopolymer is placed under a DLP projector. The areas which are to form the bottom of the 3D objects gets exposed to light and hardens to solid material. As the plate then moves down, more liquid photopolymer comes on top like a new layer and the process is repeated until the 3D object is fully constructed. One great thing about this method is that the sometimes gel-like unexposed photopolymer works like a supporting material preventing complex objects to collapse during the process. Photopolymerization with elastomers (elastic polymers) makes it possible to build elastic objects.

If you are interested in doing really tiny things (and can cash up some money!) you can use a 3D microfabrication method called multiphoton photopolymerization. This technique uses focused laser. The focused laser traces out 3D objects out of a block of gel. Like other photopolymerization techniques, the gel works as a support for complex structures. With multiphoton photopolymerization you can easily produce features under 100 nm with high complexity and movability.

  • 3D printing Technique: Stereolithography (SLA)/ Direct light Processing (DLP)
  • Technology family: Photopolymerization
  • Brief description:
  • Materials used: Photopolymer
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