Making It — Chapter 7: (Advanced) Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography (SL) is one of several methods used to create 3D-printed objects. It’s the process by which a uniquely designed 3D printing machine, called a stereolithograph apparatus (SLA) converts liquid plastic into solid objects.

The process was patented as a means of rapid prototyping in 1986 by Charles Hull, co-founder of 3D Systems, Inc., a leader in the 3D printing industry.

SLAs have four main parts: a tank that can be filled with liquid plastic (photopolymer), a perforated platform that is lowered into the tank, an ultraviolet (UV) laser and a computer controlling the platform and the laser.

How it works:

Stereolithography is an ideal solution for creating prototypes because it creates highly accurate, durable objects fairly quickly and relatively inexpensively. SLA machines can even create oddly shaped objects, which can be difficult to produce using traditional prototyping methods.