Stereolithography (SLA)
Speed, Quality and Price

Stereolithography or SLA for short is our most popular rapid prototyping process. Agile runs a fleet of large platform SLA machines lead by our "Monster" iPro 9000XL building parts up to 1,500mm x 750mm x 550mm.  The greatest advantage of the SLA process is the final look of the product. Parts built in SLA have a smooth finish much like the end user plastic products you use everyday. Couple that with the high speed of SLA and you have our most popular prototyping process. Agile offers the greatest selection of SLA materials meaning we can mimic the material properties of your final product. In many cases we use SLA for low volume manufacturing, this is because the more parts you build in SLA, the less each part will cost (economy of scale). Economy of scale is one of the many ways Agile's expertise can save you money. Please go to our Materials page to learn more about the materials we offer or give us a call to discuss your needs.

 

Anatomy of Stereolithography

SLA is often considered the pioneer of the additive manufacturing processes,  with the first production systems introduced in 1988 and patented by 3D systems founder Charles (Chuck) W. Hull. The SLA process utilizes a vat of liquid photopolymer resin cured by ultraviolet (UV) laser to solidify the pattern layer by layer to create or “print” a solid 3D model.

A UV laser beam is directed by a computer guided mirror onto the surface of the UV photopolymer resin. The model is built one layer at a time from supplied 3D CAD data.

The laser beam traces the boundaries and fills in a two-dimensional cross section of the model, solidifying the resin wherever it touches. Each successive layer is applied by submersion of the build platform into the resin as the part gradually develops and the platform descends into the liquid resin.

Once the model is complete, the platform rises out of the vat and the excess resin is drained. The model is then removed from the platform, washed of excess resin, and then placed in a UV oven for a final curing. After curing SLA parts are then ready for post processing as required by the specific application.