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SLA vs. traditional production methods

SLA (stereolithography) is historically the first 3D printing technology, offering high precision in part production and excellent surface quality, comparable to injection molding. In his work, he uses light-curing resins, which he photopolymerizes with a UV laser beam. In this article, we will look at the advantages of the SLA method over other manufacturing techniques, in the context of Technology Applied – the largest company providing 3D printing services in Poland, specializing in this method and powder technologies (such as SLS).

The main advantages of the SLA method over other manufacturing techniques are, on the one hand, quite obvious, as they coincide with the advantages of additive manufacturing in general, but on the other hand, they are more nuanced and concern this specific technology. The first is the complexity of the geometry – SLA allows you to create complex shapes that may be difficult or impossible to produce using traditional manufacturing methods. It offers the speed and flexibility of prototyping, allowing you to quickly create prototypes without the need to create special tools or molds.

Waste minimization – unlike waste methods such as CNC machining, SLA uses only as much material as is needed to produce the part, excluding support structures – if a given detail requires it? SLA offers exceptional surface finish quality, especially important in industries such as jewelry and medicine.

However, there are areas where SLA technology does not work. The key is the scale of production – for large production runs, traditional methods such as injection molding may be more cost-effective. The photopolymer materials used in these types of 3D printers often do not match the strength of mechanically machined or injection molded materials. SLA is also limited to photopolymerized resins, which may not suit all applications.

Who should use SLA technology? This method is ideal for:

  • Designers and engineers who need to quickly create complex prototypes.
  • The medical industry to create custom surgical tools or anatomical models.
  • Art and jewelry production for unique designs requiring precise details.

Who Should Stick to Traditional Manufacturing Methods?

  • Mass production in hundreds of thousands or millions of pieces, where the costs and efficiency of injection molding or CNC machining exceed the benefits of SLA.
  • Heavy industry where exceptional material strength is required.

SLA technology, although it brings new opportunities in the industrial area, does not completely replace traditional production methods. Instead, it offers an alternative where speed, geometry complexity and surface quality are crucial. For companies like Technology Applied, having SLA 3D printers allows for a more comprehensive approach to project implementation, tailored to the specific needs of each client.

Photo: www.ta.parts

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