Stereolithography (SLA) is one of the most commonly used rapid prototyping processes available on the market today. This processuses an ultraviolet laser that reacts with an ultraviolet curable resin in order to create the individual layers of the prototype. This process is capable of generating prototypes that exhibit a fine level of surface detail. However, due to the nature of the prototyping material the prototypes typically remain brittle after completion.
Materials: polyethylene-like epoxy, ABS-like epoxy, polycarbonate-like epoxy, and ceramic reinforced epoxy resin amongst other photosensitive resins.
Process: During this process a vat full of the selected ultraviolet curable resin surrounds the working platform where the part is created. The ultraviolet laser activates and cures the resin just enough so the layer maintains its desired shape throughout the process. (Additional curing is required after the prototype is completed.) Once the laser has traced the desired outline of the layer, the platform on which the prototype is supported lowers, allowing the resin to cover the newly formed layer. In order to create a level surface of resin a sweeper arm moves across the working surface creating a smooth surface of resin ready for the next layer. During this process the layers are fused together to create one solid part. Due to the characteristics of the ultraviolet cured resin and the particular design of the prototype additional supports may be required during the SLA prototyping process to ensure the part is supported on the platform correctly.
Applications: The SLA process is used particularly for prototypes that require more detail. The completed prototype can be used as a functional prototype and an appearance model. Although the layers on the completed prototype are visible, they can simply be sanded off if desired. The final prototype is commonly used for appearance models, Form & Fit models and engineering verification models. SLA prototyping can also be used to create master patterns for molds. SLA is commonly used by industries such as Medical, Automotive, Military, Aerospace, and Electronics.
Contact us to discuss your prototyping needs or to obtain a quote