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5 things you need to know about SLA 3D printing

Following the recent unveiling of our ProX 800 SLA resin printer at Fi Innovations, we thought we’d share some insider info on stereolithography, a.k.a. SLA 3D printing. Check out these five tips to understand how you can integrate this technology into your R&D and dramatically reduce your time to market.


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ACCURACY

The ultimate drawcard of SLA is the accuracy and precision of the parts created. Features are replicable down to 0.1mm – that’s the same thickness as A4 photocopy paper or human hair!

While not suitable for making functional end-use parts, SLA’s accuracy makes it the gold standard to test the fit, form, and function of parts before investing in traditional manufacturing techniques like injection moulding or CNC machining. At any time, our ProX 800 will be churning out various plastic enclosures, home appliance components or automotive parts that designers will use to validate their designs before initiating mass production.

Power tool enclosure SLA print
Power tool enclosure SLA print


VOLUME

SLA machines generally have larger build volumes which allow bulky objects, or more parts, to be printed than other resin printers such as our Figure-4 DLP printer.

Our ProX 800 resin printer, NZ’s largest SLA, is ideal for those who need to print oversized items previously never considered for 3D printing. Useable volume is 750 x 650 x 550 mm – you could print 755 standard coke cans or a child mannequin in that space!

Engine Block
1:1 scale V8 engine block printed by the ProX 800


SUPPORT STRUCTURES

As part of the SLA process, each build must include what we call ‘support structures’. These structures hold the part securely in place throughout the printing process and support any spans or overhangs. Otherwise, the part would topple over, or unsupported features would sag. Support structures consist of a raft on the base plate, with delicate scaffolding reaching up to touchpoints on the part.

While not as convenient as the supportless SLS technology, the geometry of SLA support structures is fine enough that, after removal, the touchpoints barely leave any witness marks. You get a virtually unmarked surface, comparable to an injection moulded finish.

SLA Print with support structure
SLA parts printed in Accura Clearvue, with support structure still attached


FUNCTIONAL PART TESTING

Instead of machining PP or ABS for testing functional assemblies, we can create general-purpose plastic parts with the Accura Xtreme Grey material. Fitments, snap-fits and moving parts can be tested with complete certainty that the parts meet or exceed standard manufacturing tolerances.

This tough, durable material is also suitable for master patterns in vacuum casting.

SLA Extrusion test
SLA extrusion profiles test printed in Accura Xtreme Grey


FULLY TRANSPARENT PARTS

The Accura Clear-Vue transparent material lends itself to a multitude of applications where transparency is critical. Examples include testing automotive headlights, examining complex assemblies, or even fluid flow analysis to see how liquids or gases move within ducts.

The biocompatibility of the material suits medical applications like dental appliances, hearing aids and surgical tools – you may have already seen SLA technology in action producing Invisalign clear teeth straighteners.

SLA Clear parts
Transparent SLA parts printed in Accura Clearvue

In addition, SLA can quickly produce detailed sacrificial patterns for metal casting.

14 May 2021 - 3D Printing_ Projects