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SLA technology vs. SLS technology – main differences and advantages of one over the other

Technology Applied, a leader in the field of industrial 3D printing in Poland, is known mainly for the production of parts made using selective laser sintering (SLS) technology. The company also uses DWS Systems’ stereolithography (SLA) technology, which gives it wide opportunities to select the best incremental method for the specificity of each order. Both of these 3D printing approaches have their unique advantages and limitations, and their comparison sheds light on the variety of opportunities in the additive industry.

SLA, or stereolithography, is a method that uses UV light to harden liquid resins layer by layer. This technology is known for very high accuracy and surface quality, which is crucial in applications where precision and aesthetics are important, for example in jewelry or prosthetics. However, the SLA process can be time-consuming and requires additional post-print steps, including rinsing prints in isopropyl alcohol to remove excess resin. Tools and work surfaces often become sticky and require careful cleaning.

On the other hand, SLS works by sintering powdered materials such as polyamide PA12 (nylon) using a laser. This technology allows you to create durable and functional parts that can withstand higher loads than those made using SLA technology. SLS does not require the use of support structures because the uncracked powder around the printed parts provides natural support. This eliminates the need for additional steps after printing, which is reflected in the SLA. Additionally, SLS is more suitable for producing parts with complex geometries and porous structures, which is beneficial in sectors such as aerospace and automotive.

Differences in consumables between SLA and SLS are also significant. SLA mainly uses different types of resins that can be adapted to achieve a variety of mechanical and aesthetic properties. SLS, on the other hand, uses thermoplastic powders that provide greater strength and resistance to external influences, but their selection is limited to PA12 and, more recently, TPU and PP.

In summary, the choice between SLA and SLS at Technology Applied and other companies depends on the specific requirements of the project. SLA is ideal for projects requiring high accuracy and surface quality, while SLS is more suitable for the production of functional, durable parts with complex geometries. Both of these 3D printing approaches offer different opportunities and limitations, and their effective use can significantly impact innovation and productivity in the industry.

Photo: www.ta.parts

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