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Stereolithography (SLA)

Stereolithography (SLA) is an additive manufacturing process that can 3D print parts with small features, tight tolerance requirements, and smooth surface finishes.

Stereolithography uses light to cure liquid resin into a solid object, one layer at a time. For each layer, the laser beam traces a cross-section of the part pattern on the surface of the liquid resin. Exposure to the ultraviolet laser light cures and solidifies the pattern traced on the resin and joins it to the layer below. Stereolithography requires generating supporting structures that attach the part to the elevator platform. This offers dimensional freedom and complexity. Stereolithography can be used for a wide variety of applications including functional prototyping and rapid tooling.

Parts produced through stereolithography are strong enough to be machined and can be used as master patterns for injection molding, thermoforming, blow molding, and various metal casting processes. Although SLA can produce multiple parts, it tends to be expensive due to the cost of the liquid resin and the post-processing required removing supports and smoothing the surfaces by sanding.
Explore complex, precise prototypes and display models with stereolithography at Anubis 3D. Contact us today to discuss your next project or request a quote.


  • Parts are accurate
  • SLA parts are used to create molds and patterns for investment casting
  • SLA parts are strong enough to be machined if required
  • Good surface finish
  • Limited mechanical and thermal strength
  • Prototypes for limited functional testing, suitable for show and tell
  • Surface quality of area with support structures rough with scars from support (dots)


Bottles and Jars

Stereolithography (SLA) is an additive manufacturing process that can 3D print parts in clear resin that resembles glass or clear plastic called Somos® WaterShed XC 11122.

Creating a new product is an exciting venture for bottling companies because consumers are always looking for new products with unique shapes or qualities.

 Blow molding companies can share their designs and concepts with their customers faster using 3D printing in a matter of few days and moving on to production with the winning designs. This accelerated development phase meant molds are manufactured faster and the investment has a guaranteed outcome. The printed prototypes are translucent, and we can post process them through sanding and buffing to achieve the smooth surface then finishing it with a clear lacquer quote. These prototypes are also sent to mold makers, so they have a physical product to design the mold against reducing any chances for errors.

Clear Optical Components

Additive manufacturing process Stereolithography SLA is used to print components for a range of functional applications in the electronics industry such as embedded optics and sensors.  Light transmitting components for illumination, light covers, and light pipes, lenses are some of the most common applications. Somos® WaterShed XC 11122 is a clear resin that is very popular for printing prototypes of optical components and interactive optical devices. 3D printing advantage gives designers the freedom to create complex geometries and intricate very small structures.

Large size Mechanical prototypes

Stereolithography is used to create high-quality visual prototypes. This includes mechanical parts. Using large sized build platforms, stereolithography can produce large parts which can be bonded together to form one whole part. Dimensional accuracy, large build platform, surface finish, make stereolithography an optimal choice for large models. As SLA uses resin and not powder thermoplastics, the effect of material shrinkage and warping is much less severe. Automotive customers use lightweight 3D printed models to explain form and function rather than actual heavy metal parts. These prototypes are also easier to transport, safer to handle.


Additive Manufacturing plays an important role in the medical field. It opened new opportunities for the creation of patient-specific cutting and drilling surgical guides. In addition, it supported the diagnostics of critical organ issues such as heart diseases through CT scanning, converting the scan into a computer aided design and printing it. For this purpose, a see-through high precision model using Somos® WaterShed XC 11122 made it easier to understand the issues and drive solutions for helping patients. Other common applications of the same are used in medical school for education and a realistic view of ailments.

Copyright to ETH Zurich


What is SLA 3D Printing?

Stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing is the most prevalent resin 3D printing process that produces high-accuracy, isotropic, and waterproof prototypes and end-use parts in a variety of sophisticated materials with precise features and a smooth surface finish.

Stereolithography is a member of the vat photopolymerization family of additive manufacturing processes, also referred to as resin 3D printing. A laser or projector is used to cure liquid resin into rigid plastic. The positioning of essential parts like the resin tank, construction platform, and light source is what distinguishes one product from another physically.

SLA parts offer the high resolution and precision, the finest details, and the cleanest surface finishes. However, the main advantage of stereolithography is its adaptability.

How does SLA 3D printing work ?

In order for SLA 3D printing to function, the build platform must first be positioned within the liquid photopolymer tank at a distance equal to one layer height from the liquid’s surface.

The photopolymer resin is selectively cured and solidified by a UV laser to produce the subsequent layer.

The monomer carbon chains that make up the liquid resin are activated by the UV laser light and solidify during the photopolymerization process’ solidification phase, forming powerful, irreversible bonds between one another.

Using a set of mirrors referred to as galvos, the laser beam is directed along a specified path. The whole cross-sectional area of the model is scanned, resulting in a totally solid manufactured part.

The part is not yet fully cured after printing. In order to achieve extremely high mechanical and thermal qualities, additional post-processing under UV radiation is necessary.

What materials are used for SLA 3D printing?

SLA materials are liquid resins that can be selected for the part’s intended application, such as abrasion resistance, smooth surface finish, or temperature resistance. As a result, the cost of the resin varies widely.

Explore our SLA 3D printing materials here

What are SLA 3D printing post process options?

Due to its capacity to create high-accuracy, isotropic, and waterproof prototypes and components in a variety of sophisticated materials with precise details and excellent surface finish, stereolithography (SLA) 3D printing has become incredibly popular.

But parts frequently need post-processing because they are not completely done when they leave the printer. While components that are straight off the construction platform are smooth and ready to use, a few little finishing touches will enable them to be used in a variety of applications.

See our post process options at Anubis 3D  here

What are the advantages of using Stereolithography?


Stereolithography can be quick, depending on the size of the model, prototype, or item being created and the number of required layers. The resins laid down in this way cure quickly. Stereolithography is an additive process that doesn’t need moulds. This saves the resources and time needed to create a mould.


By using computer-guided lasers, stereolithography creates intricate prototypes and models. These enable designers and manufacturers to identify defects early in the process so they may make appropriate adjustments, helping them avoid costly mistakes and redesigns.

By using this method, very thin resin layers can be applied, producing models or parts with incredibly realistic details.

Works With Different Materials

More materials than just plastic resins can now be used in the stereolithography process. The procedure can now be used to connect metals or ceramic powders. To create precise component parts, the method might take the place of expensive and labor-intensive machining.


Resins used in stereolithography are reusable. As they are being created, prototypes that reveal design problems can be changed. Materials that haven’t yet hardened can still be used to make new components or models.

Multi-Part Assemblies Are Possible

It is feasible to create several elements that may subsequently be joined in a more complex assembly thanks to the precision computer supervision and computer-assisted designs. By disassembling complex designs into individually adjustable component pieces, this capability also facilitates design revisions.

Texturing Is Possible

Stereolithography makes it possible to construct items with a variety of textures, even though one of its finest advantages is the smooth finish it produces. Depending on how the material is stacked and constructed, prototypes can be made from various types of resins or layered according to computer instructions to produce textured areas.