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How is SLA technology different from PolyJet?

SLA technology (stereolithography) and PolyJet are two advanced 3D printing methods that, although they use resins, differ significantly in terms of concept, mechanics and the type of parts produced. Understanding these differences is key in the industrial 3D printing industry, and for companies such as Technology Applied that specialize in SLS technology, expanding their services to include SLA and PolyJet was an important step towards diversifying their offerings.

SLA uses a UV laser beam to cure liquid resins layer by layer. The laser scans the resin surface, hardening it point-wise in specific places, which allows for very high accuracy and quality of details. This technology is particularly appreciated for its ability to create complex geometries with smooth surfaces. However, SLA is limited to using one resin at a time, which means that all elements of the print are monochrome and made of the same material.

PolyJet, in turn, works by spraying tiny droplets of resin, which are then hardened with UV light. This enables the simultaneous use of many types of resins in one 3D printing process, which translates into the creation of multi-material and multi-colored objects. PolyJet is therefore able to produce prints that mimic various material properties, such as flexibility, stiffness and transparency – all in one print.

With PolyJet, the support structures are often washed out or chemically dissolved, which is a difference compared to SLA where the support structures must be manually removed. In PolyJet, the support structures are made of a different material, with properties similar to wax. This feature makes the PolyJet print finishing process less time-consuming and can be more effective for complex geometries.

Both technologies, although they use resins, produce completely different parts. There are situations where the use of SLA is not possible, but PolyJet technology can meet the task. For example, when a combination of several different materials in one print or color printing is required, PolyJet is the preferred method. This is due to the unique method of resin application in PolyJet, which allows precise mixing of different types of resins during the printing process.

Understanding these differences allows Technology Applied to precisely tailor 3D printing technology to the specific needs of the project. SLA and PolyJet, although both based on light-cured resins, offer unique capabilities that are applicable to various industries and project types. The choice of the appropriate technology depends on the specific requirements regarding material, color, flexibility and print accuracy.

Photo: www.ta.parts

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