Stereolithography 3D Printing Technique

by Auguste

Also identified as Stereolithography apparatus or resin printing is a 3D printing technique of objects by use of photopolymerization. Photopolymerization is a method where light causes chains of molecules to link, establishing polymers. To achieve this you must use a Stereolithography apparatus or SLA.

This 3D printing invention was by Hideo Kodama a Japanese researcher, who came up with the new Stereolithography technique of using ultraviolet light to treat photosensitive polymers; this was in the early 1980s.

Other Stereolithography inventors include:

  • Chuck Hull
  • Alain Le Mehaute
  • Olivier de Witte
  • Jean Claude Andre

Nevertheless, the invention by Alain le Mehaute was rejected Alcatel-Alsthom and The Laser Consortium. This term Chuck Hull brought up Stereolithography. Chuck is one of the founders of 3D systems, which was the first 3D firm.

Automotive industry was the first to use Stereolithography 3D printing. This technique has been widely embraced by many companies. There has been efforts to build mathematical designs of this technique procedures and scheme set of rules to determine whether construction will take place for the proposed object using stereolithographic 3D printing.

Stereolithography Technique

This is a rapid prototyping technique whose application by focusing UV light on to a container of photopolymer resin. Using the CAD technology, using the ultra violet light to draw a pre-programmed model on the surface of the photopolymer container.

Photopolymers are subtle to UV light; hence, the resin is photo chemically coagulated and systems a single layer of the anticipated 3D item. This procedure is repeated for each layer of the model until the 3D items is entirely complete. After completion, clean the object with a solvent to remove the wet resin.

Stereolithography from Computer Aided Design

To achieve 3D printing you can use different methods of printing. Most of these 3D printing methods use computer aided design.

CAD files are digital image of an item. Many engineers into computerized designs that are easily applicable use this technique by 3D printing. The CAD files translation is necessary to a language the 3D printer can comprehend. Hence able to produce a 3D object.

Objects Manufactured through Stereolithography

In this current technological revolution, the use of Stereolithography is essential in production of various objects. This technique builds objects that last longer, cheap, and more accurate. The following are sectors that use Stereolithography. They include:

  • Medical sector
  • Automotive sector

These two sectors vastly use this technique in the production of its essential objects. For example, Stereolithography has enabled the medical sector to build prototypes that can still act as end user product. In the automobile sector, it has enabled the creation of a cast prototype of a car door handle. In addition to that, creation of some parts of the automobiles is through this technique.

In addition, other emerging sectors are quickly embracing this technique. The following are companies that are fully using it:

  • Stratasys
  • 3D Systems Inc.
  • Vaupell Inc.
  • Applied Rapid Technologies corp.
  • Hatcher Associates
  • Forecast 3D

Recently an innovation by formlabs has revolutionized Stereolithography. By creating, a desktop that can print objects at your home by use of Stereolithography has sparked the technological world.

Why Choose Stereolithography 3D Printing?

By use of Stereolithography is very easy to create an object. This technique creates a quality object faster with no defects. Materialise have invented its own stereolithographic printer that is capable of 3D printing an object of about two meters.

Perfect Stereolithography Uses

Apart from the medical sector and automobile industry, use of this technique is also in the manufacture of the following objects such as:

  • Optical lenses
  • Design evaluation
  • Scale designs
  • Masters for vacuum molding
  • Wind Tunnel designs
  • QuickMold designs for investment molding
  • Concept designs

Stereolithography Associated Case Studies.

It has played a major role in the manufacturing sector. However, for your own knowledge it has been able to help in various case studies. Stereolithography has some associated case studies like:

  • Power from Waste.

Using Stereolithography, it has enabled the manufacture of a 3D printed architectural design of an environmental company. Due to it being urgent the model was required in a short time hence this technique was the best to use.

The design was to be light for it to be transportable and should have specific colors to show the procedure that would make up the company. Hence, Stereolithography was essential during this process.

  • Aerospace Delivery jet Pump Design

This case study was about invention of a fuel supply method for specific aircrafts. By use of Stereolithography, it was successfully achieved. Through mixture of nylon material and surface finish, this case study was able to be undertaken.

Stereolithography Raw Materials.

For this 3D printing to be successful there are specific materials that are essential. They include:

  • Poly1500

This material has properties almost similar to engineering plastics and polypropylene. Poly1500 is long lasting and impact-resistant. It is for useful in manufacturing of practical prototypes like automobile parts and medical merchandises.

  • Tusk2700W

More suitable for water-resistant and robust prototypes with PBT and Abs conditions. Its main applications is in the wind tunnel analysis, water flow investigation, high-end complete designs, and practical prototypes.

  • Taurus

This black material has robust mechanical properties. It is helpful in detection of surface defects. Taurus is more efficient for use in aerospace and automobile companies.       

  • NeXt
  • This is long lasting resin, useful in manufacture of complex parts. Some of it other uses is to create connectors, impellers, and automobile housing.
  • Tusk Somos SolidGrey3000

Only available at Materialise tusk somos solidgrey3000 has a high amount of stiffness with great impact resistance. Its major use is in the manufacture of practical prototypes, automobile body parts, long lasting concept designs, and machine shelters.


There are other raw materials in Stereolithography such as:

  • Protogen white
  • Xtreme
  • Perform
  • Element
  • TuskXC2700T

Pros of Stereolithography

  1. It is fast hence processing of the functional parts can be in a day.
  2. 3D printed models and prototypes are robust, hence capable in the manufacture of patterns such as metal molding, injection molding, thermoforming, or blow casting.

Cons of Stereolithography

  1. It is expensive. Public photopolymers price is $800 per gallon while a stereolithographic machine costs two hundred and fifty US dollars.

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