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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.


  • 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.

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