SLA: Everything You Need to Know

SLA 3D Printing Everything you need to know about by Formlabs

Explore SLA 3D printing technology in-depth and compare it with MSLA, DLS, DLP, LSPc, LCM, cDLM, HPS, LMM, and 2PP in this comprehensive guide.

by Editorial Staff: We are a team of 3D Printing Enthusiasts who have build a lot of knowledge about 3D Printing the last 8 years. Our aim is to create the knowledge hub for 3D Printing covering all minor and major topics. Providing one source of reliable Information for everybody regardless of Beginner or Expert.

Introduction to SLA: The Pioneering 3D Printing Technology

Stereolithography (SLA) is a form of 3D printing technology that has been a significant player in the world of additive manufacturing. This blog post will delve into the intricacies of SLA, comparing it with various other 3D printing technologies that fall under the Vat Photopolymerization umbrella. By understanding the nuances of these technologies, we can appreciate the unique capabilities and applications of SLA in the ever-evolving landscape of 3D printing.

Understanding SLA: The Basics and Beyond

How SLA Works

SLA operates on the principle of curing liquid photopolymer resin into solid plastics, layer by layer, using an ultraviolet (UV) laser. This process is highly precise, allowing for the creation of complex geometries with smooth finishes.

Advantages of SLA

SLA is known for its high resolution and accuracy, making it ideal for applications requiring intricate details, such as dental work, jewelry, and prototyping.

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#Formlabs 3 / 3L

Comparing SLA with Other 3D Printing Technologies

VPP: The Broad Spectrum

Vat Photopolymerization (VPP) is a broad category of resin-based 3D printing technologies, including SLA. VPP is characterized by its use of a light source to cure photopolymer resins, offering high-detail capabilities.

MSLA: A Variation of SLA

Masked Stereolithography (MSLA) differs from SLA in its use of an LCD screen to mask the UV light, curing an entire layer at once. This makes MSLA faster but potentially less detailed than traditional SLA.

DLS: The Evolution of SLA

Digital Light Synthesis (DLS), developed by Carbon, uses continuous liquid interface production and oxygen-permeable optics, allowing for rapid printing without sacrificing surface finish quality.

DLP: Speed and Precision

Direct Light Projection (DLP) uses a digital projector screen to flash a single image of each layer across the entire platform. It’s faster than SLA but may have limitations in resolution.

LSPc: Enhancing Layer Adhesion

Lubricant Sublayer Photo-curing (LSPc) introduces a lubricant sublayer to improve layer adhesion, enhancing the quality of complex geometries and internal structures.

LCM: Specialized in Ceramics

Lithography-based Ceramic Manufacturing (LCM) is tailored for producing ceramic parts. It maintains the precision of SLA while enabling the printing of high-performance ceramics.

cDLM: Continuous and Rapid

Continuous Digital Light Manufacturing (cDLM) allows for continuous printing, significantly reducing layer separation and speeding up the printing process.

HPS: Combining Technologies

Hybrid PhotoSynthesis (HPS) merges SLA with other manufacturing methods, offering versatility in material properties and structural integrity.

LMM: Focused on Metals

Lithography-based Metal Manufacturing (LMM) adapts the principles of SLA for metal printing, combining the detail of lithography with the strength of metal materials.

2PP: Ultra-High Resolution

Two Photon Polymerization (2PP) uses two-photon absorption to achieve ultra-high resolutions. It’s ideal for micro-scale structures but is limited by its slow speed and small build volume.

Conclusion: The Ongoing Evolution of SLA and 3D Printing

SLA continues to be a critical player in the additive manufacturing arena. Its evolution and comparison with other technologies under the VPP umbrella highlight its versatility and adaptability in various industrial and commercial applications.


What is SLA in 3D printing? SLA is a 3D printing process using UV lasers to cure liquid resin into solid plastic.

How does SLA differ from MSLA? SLA uses a point laser, while MSLA uses an LCD to cure entire layers simultaneously.

What is the advantage of DLS over SLA? DLS offers faster printing with comparable detail and surface finish to SLA.

Why is LCM unique in 3D printing? LCM specializes in producing high-performance ceramic parts with precise detailing.

What sets 2PP apart in the 3D printing world? 2PP achieves ultra-high resolution, suitable for micro-scale structures.

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