What is Stereolithography?
Stereolithography (SL), also known as SLA, uses ultraviolet-sensitive liquid resins (photopolymers) that are instantly cured when activated by a UV laser. Then the parts are post-processed with additional UV and thermal treatments when necessary.
Stereolithography is a speedy and highly accurate process used most commonly for form and fit prototypes, master patterns, and large concept models. The combination of speed and design freedom offered by Stereolithography enables rapid iteration for new product development.
How does Stereolithography work?
We take your CAD file and input it into the machine, and the software breaks it down layer by layer. We also take into consideration the direction of the build and the placement of the supports. The Stereolithography machine uses an ultraviolet laser to draw each layer of the part onto the surface of the liquid thermoset resin. After each laser pass, the build platform moves down, and a bar moves across the surface, recoating the platform. This step is repeated until the build is complete.
Once finished, the platform is removed from the machine, and the parts are taken into a space where they are manually removed and cleaned using solvents. From there, parts are cured using a UV cycle to solidify the outer surface of the part. Once this step is finished, the parts are moved to the finishing department.
What are the ideal applications for Stereolithography?
- Large models, prototypes, and master patterns
- Investment casting parts
- Low-volume production for complex geometries
Stereolithography Capabilities at Midwest Prototyping
3D Systems, Stratasys
Max Build Area:
31 x 31 x 23 in
1 – 2 Days
3D Systems Accura: 25, 60, ABS Black, AMX Rigid Black, Xtreme, Xtreme White 200
DSM Somos®: 8120, BioClear, EvoLVe, PerFORM, Taurus, WaterClear Ultra 10122, WaterShed Black, WaterShed XC 11222
± .005 in for the first inch and ± .0015 in for each additional inch
The normal resolution layer thickness is .004 in, and the minimum feature size is .012 in.
The high-resolution layer thickness is .002 in, and the minimum feature size is .006 in (feature size is dependent on geometry).
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Which Stereolithography Materials does Midwest Prototyping Offer?
*Special processing may be required. Please notify us of any biocompatibility needs.
Best Practices for Designing Parts for Stereolithography at Midwest Prototyping.
Supports & Overhangs
Base Support Otherwise 45 Degrees
Embossing & Engraving
Width: .016 in, Height/Depth: .016 in
Holes & Openings
Connecting & Moving Parts
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What Are the Finishing Levels at Midwest Prototyping?
Supports removed and support faces lightly sanded
Standard finish: supported surfaces appearing dull and non-supported surfaces appearing glossy. Parts will have visible layer lines.
Supports removed, support faces lightly sanded, and entire part bead blasted
Even surface finish: gloss removed from non-supported surfaces to create a more consistent finish. Parts will have visible layer lines.
Supports removed, support faces lightly sanded, cosmetic surfaces sanded to 180 grit, and entire part bead blasted
Functional finish: removes some layer lines. Parts have a light texture from sanding.
Supports removed, support surfaces lightly sanded, cosmetic surfaces sanded to 320 grit, and entire part bead blasted
Show quality finish: removes layer lines from cosmetic surfaces. This finish is recommended for priming, painting, and urethane mold masters.
Supports removed, support surfaces lightly sanded, cosmetic surfaces wet sanded to 600 grit
Highest quality finish: recommended only for plating and optically clear parts.