Stereolithography (SLA) is the original additive manufacturing technology. It is used to make accurate concept models, master patterns, and investment casting patterns. Stereolithography machines produce parts one layer at time by using a UV laser to cure photo-reactive resins.
A part is designed using a 3D CAD system such as SolidWorks, AutoCAD Inventor, ProE, etc. The native CAD file is exported to a STL file which is a rendered surface model used by 3D printing software. The STL file is then processed through the printer software for orientation on the build plate, layer slicing, and placement of the support structure. In a stereolithography machine, the part is built on a platform which is lowered into a vat of UV curable photopolymer resin. The platform is lowered one layer thickness into the resin and the laser solidifies the resin per the cross section data of the CAD file. When the layer is complete, the platform moves down another layer thickness and resin flows over the first layer. The laser then solidifies the resin per the next cross section data, adhering it to the previous layer. This process is repeated until the model is complete. When finished, the platform rises out of the resin vat, the model is removed, rinsed of excess resin, and cured in a UV oven. The support structures are then manually removed from the model.
Various resins are available for creating parts with different mechanical properties. Our most common stereolithography material is Somos Watershed 11120 as it is durable, strong, and accurate. We also offer materials for investment casting, optically clear, and flexible parts.
- Fine detail for concept and show models
- Prototyping of lightpipes and lenses with optically clear material
- Create patterns for investment casting
- Investment casting
- Build Volume: 10 x 10 x 10 in (250 x 250 x 250 mm)
- Accuracy: 0.002 in Layer Thickness (.05 mm)
- Beam Diameter Standard Resolution: 0.010 in (0.25mm)
- Beam Diameter High Resolution: 0.003 in (0.075mm)
In decades of engineering including 14 years of R&D at Hewlett Packard, I learned new products to be laborious and time consuming. Design, redesign, prototype, test, tooling, sampling, before having the thought materialize. Yet there was fun to be had. Now with Avid 3D Printing with their rapid prototypes and low volume production, I thought of a product couple weeks ago and shipped to customers several days ago. It means less work, faster path from initial product idea to finished product ready to ship to customer. Cost, lead time, mistakes, labor decrease. Only the fun goes up.