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Which 3D printing technology should you choose for the production of large parts: SLA or SLS?

Manufacturing large parts (over 30 cm in XYZ axes) using 3D printing requires the right choice of technology to ensure quality, efficiency and process success. In this article, we will compare resin technology – SLA and two popular powder methods – SLS and MJF. All three are used in everyday work by Technology Applied – the largest company in Poland providing 3D printing services, which specializes in creating parts sometimes exceeding 60 cm in the longest length of the XYZ axis.

SLA (stereolithography) is a 3D printing method that uses a UV laser to harden photopolymers layer by layer. It allows you to create very accurate and detailed parts with a smooth surface. However, the build size limitations of SLA printers can be problematic when producing large parts. Additionally, the resin curing process requires additional time and work, which may extend production times. Technology Applied has a large-format SLA 3D printer – DWS Systems XPR S, with a working area of 30 x 30 x 30 cm. The production of larger elements, although theoretically possible, involves gluing several elements together. Unfortunately, light-cured resins are quite difficult to glue and require the use of appropriate adhesives, such as two-component epoxy ones, which offer a strong and durable bond.

SLS and MJF are techniques that use a laser or binding agents to selectively sinter or weld polymer powders to create strong and resistant parts. These methods are more suitable for the production of large parts due to the larger sizes of the work chambers. They also allow for faster production without the need for support structures. Parts produced by SLS and MJF have good mechanical strength and are more suitable for functional applications. They are also perfect for gluing larger parts from pieces, thanks to the properties of polyamides as well as the characteristic, porous structure of the surface of 3D prints. Technology Applied has SLS 3D printers with working chambers of 32 x 32 x 60 cm, which, when the selected models are arranged diagonally across the chamber, further increases production capabilities.

The choice of 3D printing technology for producing large parts depends on many factors, including requirements for accuracy, durability and production speed. For large, durable and functional parts, SLS and MJF are often the preferred methods, offering speed and efficiency. SLA, while offering high accuracy and detail, may be less practical for very large objects. Technology Applied has most of the 3D printing technologies available, so it can be used to support a wide range of manufacturing needs.

Photo: www.ta.parts

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