What's SLA Printing-Simply Explained

Written by Abigail    2022-05-26

3D Printing started changing manufacturing industry since the 1980s. With the development of printing technologies and extensive range of new materials, we’ve seen lots of new 3D Printing technologies emerged in the industry. If you know How to 3D Print, you may find that the theory of different 3D printing technologies are similar. As the one of the earliest developed 3D Printing services, Stereolithography (SLA) plays an important role in turning creativity into reality. In this article, we will discover SLA 3D Printing.

3d printing, stereolithography

Image Source: 3D natives

Part 1. What is SLA 3D Printing?

3D Printing, also known as additive manufacturing, is a process that adds materials together layer by layer based on digital 3D models. Stereolithography, also known as SLA, is an additive manufacturing process that cure liquid resin layer by layer through UV laser light. Printing bed goes down as one layer is cured by the UV light, and eventually create a solid object.

SLA 3D Printing has been commonly used in various industries since the 1980s, which is belong to resin 3D Printing category. As one of the most important features of resins is that they are UV-sensitive, which allows SLA 3D Printer uses laser light to cure the resin to build solid parts. Besides, SLA can bring resin printed products with nice and smooth surface, making it an irreplaceable technology in 3D Printing.

sla, sla 3d printing, resin 3d printing

Part 2. How does SLA work?

As similar as every 3D Printing technology, it is necessary to have a digital 3D model before SLA 3D Printing. As the printing file should be in STL format, export STL file for the 3D designs is what you need. Then you are ready to import the STL file on SLS printer control panel.

After all preparations are done, it is time to SLA 3D print the models. Normally, SLA printer contains several parts as following:

1. Material pool. Pouring enough liquid 3D resin into the material pool and make sure there is no debris in the material pool. Otherwise, it will cause printing failure.

2. Scraper. The scraper sweeps the material pool after one layer in being cured, which ensures an even surface.

3. Laser light. The laser light will be guided to right coordinates according to the computer-controlled mirror in the printer. Besides, setting the right power of laser light is a must.

4. Balance weight. The balance weight can make sure the liquid resin remains in the same place even though the print bed goes down.

Curing the first layer is laying the foundations of the whole printing process, it is the base of successful printing. The laser light scans the resin through the dancing spots, and curing the surface into a right shape. The first layer finished printing; the print bed will goes down based on the pre-set thickness on SLA printer which is usually 0.1mm. The whole process will keep hardening the resin layer by layer until the final object is finished.

The print bed lifts up, and the resin 3d prints will emerge from the material pool. Wait a bit for resin running down then it is time for SLA post-processing. As there is still sticky liquid resin remaining on the printed parts, the next step is to clean the printed parts inside out through ultrasonic cleaning. In addition, when printing by liquid resin, object need support to lower the chances of deformation. So, removing supports is the next step, and you can use sandpaper to remove rough edges. Curing resin prints by UV light for one more time is necessary in order to get a stable product. Sanding and sand blasting is other options for a nice surface.

Featuring high precision and smooth surface, SLA printed parts can be used in various scenarios such as exhibition, product precision tests, and complex structured model prototypes.

sla 3d, 3d resin printing

Image Source: http://www.thagiwara.jp/rp-resin/IUPAC/iupac2000.html

Part 3. Pros and Cons


1. Highly precise. With more than 40 years development, SLA printing is a proven technology that creates high precision parts.

2. High quality. SLA 3D prints are with smooth and detailed surfaces.

3. Parts with complex structure are being able to print with SLA 3D printing.

4. Hollow parts are printable. Resin prints can be hollow as liquid resin can be removed after printing.

5. Build volume flexibility. SLA 3D Printing can print parts with various size without sacrificing precision and resolution.



1. Printing takes time. It may take hours to finish printing according to the part size with SLA 3D Printing.

2. Not suitable for functional prototypes or mechanical testing. As resin parts is tend to fragile and thermal sensitive, they are not suitable for producing functional parts.

3. Deformation and scratch may occur after printing.

4. Limited material and color. SLA printer is being applied to print liquid resins, and the color choices are not much as resins are usually white or translucent.

5. Printing by yourself would be in high budget. Buying material and SLA printer could be expensive, and you may need a lab or space with good ventilation.

sla prints, resin prints

Image Source: League of Women Voters ® of Greater Los Angeles

Part 4. SLA 3D Printing at Wenext

As mentioned above, SLA 3D Printing on your own may cost high budget, so why not take a look at Wenext online SLA 3D Printing! We provide instant quoting engine to our customer, upload STL directly on our website and get instant quote which is saving time and high efficiency. After receiving the STL file, our engineers will check the file to see if the file is printable and share opinions with the customers. This step optimizes the chances of successful printing from the very beginning. The lead time of SLA printing service in Wenext is fast and guaranteed, which ensures delivery on time. Moreover, Wenext offers a wide range of post-processing options, such as threading, tapping, sand blasting, polishing, and panting. While we will go through strict quality inspection for every product. Wenext is always striving to deliver the best service to our customer.

Please feel free to try instant quoting on our website or contact us hello@wenext.com if you are interested.

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