The Stereolithography Process
The Stereolithography process was first developed in 1986, when Chuck Hull founder of 3D Systems created a system by which 3D CAD data is converted into physical models layer by layer in a vat of UV curable liquid resin.
“Stereolithography models allow us to do production intents within days. On one project alone it saved us £100,000 in tooling costs and reduced lead time from 7 months to 7 days”
Today the Stereolithography process has become an intricate part of the design and development process across a wide range of industries, with a shift in material functionality over the past five years leading to the growth of the Stereolithography process as a tool for Rapid Manufacturing.
Unsure if the Stereolithography process is right for your project? View the process comparison table.
- The Stereolithography process begins with the conversion of customer 3D CAD Data into an STL file. Proprietary software is used to slice the model into a series of fine layers, with support structures added as necessary. The STL file is then sent to print on the Stereolithography machine.
- Using a UV laser bream the first cross section of the STL file is traced out onto a platform, placed within the vat of photo-curable resin – the resin cures/hardens as it comes into contact with the laser.
- Once the first layer has been completed the platform is lowered by 0.05 – 0.15mm (dependent on build mode selected) with a fresh layer of resin covering the build surface.
- The next layer is then traced out, curing and bonding the resin to the layer below.
- The stereolithography process repeats layer by layer until the model and any support structures are “fully grown” in the resin. Once complete the platform is raised, allowing excess resin to drain away before the model is removed from the platform.
- SLA technicians then wash the SLA model and remove any supporting structures, prior to completing any customer specified finishing or painting.
The Stereolithography process allows for the production of large and small prototype components with LPE offering customers access to the largest Stereolithography build platform within the UK and Ireland.
Please note that the build platform dimensions represent single part builds, larger components can be “split and bonded” by our team of highly trained in-house model makers. For further details please speak to a member of our sales team on 028 9070 6940.
|Machine||Build Platform||Tolerance*||Layer Thickness||Smallest Vertical Feature (x,y)|
|iPro 8000||650 x 750 x 550mm||±0.15/100mm||0.1mm||0.15mm|
|Viper (Std. Resolution)||250 x 250 x 250mm||±0.15/100mm||0.1mm||0.15mm|
|Viper (High Resolution)||125 x 125 x 125mm||±0.1/100mm||0.05mm||0.05mm|
|3500 Machine||350 x 350 x 350mm||±0.15/100mm||0.1mm||0.15mm|
|250 Machine||250 x 250 x 250mm||±0.15/100mm||0.1mm||0.15mm|
*Due to the nature of Rapid Prototyping we cannot guarantee part tolerance, figures provided above are expected tolerances only.*
“We had been using CNC to produce highly accurate models. But Rapid Prototyping produced parts 4 times faster at half the cost”