SLA works by hardening liquid resin in a reservoir using a high-powered laser to generate the desired 3D shape. In a word, this technology uses a low-power laser and photopolymerization to turn photosensitive liquid into 3D solid polymers layer by layer.
For product development, additive manufacturing, often known as 3D printing, reduces costs, saves time, and goes beyond the limitations of traditional fabrication procedures. 3D printing technologies provide diverse solutions across a wide range of applications, from concept models and functional prototypes in fast prototyping to jigs, fixtures, and even end-use parts in manufacturing.
Stereolithography (SLA) is a type of industrial 3D printing that can produce concept models, cosmetic prototypes, and sophisticated parts with complex geometry in as little as one day. SLA allows for a large range of materials, exceptionally high feature resolutions, and high-quality surface finishes.
FDM 3D printers form layers by depositing lines of molten material. The part’s resolution is determined by the size of the extrusion nozzle, and there are voids between the rounded lines when the nozzle deposits them in this process. As a result, layers may not adhere completely to one another, layers are generally visible on the surface, and the technique cannot recreate delicate features that other technologies can.
SLA 3D printing uses a liquid resin that is hardened by a very precise laser to produce each layer, allowing for considerably finer details and more consistent high-quality outcomes. SLA 3D printing is noted for its fine features, smooth surface finish, ultimate part precision, and accuracy as a result of this.
In this blog, we will compare the FDM v/s SLA 3D printing technique.
- Print Quality and Precision
Another way SLA printers ensure reliability is by printing with light rather than heat. Thermal expansion and contraction artifacts, which can occur during the FDM printing process, are avoided by 3D printing objects at close to ambient temperature.
While FDM printers create mechanical bonds between layers, SLA 3D printers make chemical bonds between levels by cross-linking photopolymers between layers, resulting in fully dense, water and airtight parts. These bonds have a high degree of lateral strength, resulting in isotropic portions, which have the same strength regardless of orientation. SLA 3D printing is particularly well suited to engineering and manufacturing applications where material qualities are important.
- Materials and applications
Extrusion of plastic Standard thermoplastic filaments, such as ABS, PLA, and their blends, are used in 3D printers. The popularity of FDM 3D printing among hobbyists has resulted in a plethora of color choices. To make parts with wood or metal-like appearance, many experimental plastic filament mixtures are also available.
Engineering materials like Nylon, PETG, PA, or TPU, as well as high-performance thermoplastics like PEEK or PEI, are also available, but they’re usually limited to a small number of professional FDM printers.
SLA resin materials can be soft or hard, densely packed with additives such as glass and ceramic, or endowed with mechanical qualities such as high heat deflection temperature or impact resistance. The optical, mechanical, and thermal properties of various resin compositions are comparable to those of standard, engineering, and industrial thermoplastics.
Material properties unique to SLA include; clear, high temp, elastic, ceramic, etc.
- Ease of use
Some SLA materials require post-curing after washed sections have dried, which is a process that helps components achieve their maximum strength and stability.
The FDM technology has the advantage of not requiring cleaning; once the printing process is through, unsupported produced items are ready for use or further post-processing.
Both FDM and SLA parts can be machined, primed, painted, and assembled for specific applications or finishes if additional post-processing is required. FDM parts, on the other hand, necessitate more sanding before priming or painting, as well as higher infill levels when machined or drilled.
- Printing cost and investment
The main factor which makes FDM a highlight in the market is its low machine cost whereas for SLA, the machine cost is high. The post-process of printing is also more in SLA printing than in FDM.
- Printing Speed
Draft Resin is a fast-printing SLA material that can create parts up to 5-10X faster than FDM 3D printers. When printing items with different materials at equal layer heights, FDM and SLA printing speeds become comparable. However, due to the way the layers are formed, a part printed with 100-micron layers on an FDM printer appears very different from a part printed with 100-micron layers on an SLA printer. To achieve comparable quality with FDM parts, lower layer heights will be required, resulting in a two to four times longer printing time, or extensive and labor-consuming post-processing to improve surface smoothness.
- Build Volume
One area where FDM printers traditionally reigned used to be build volume. Due to the differences in technology, developing larger FDM machines is less complex. There are numerous larger FDM solutions on the market for applications that require 3D printing bigger parts.
The inverted SLA process behind desktop SLA printers reduces footprint and cost but heightened peel forces introduce limitations around materials and build volume, and larger parts require sturdy support structures to print successfully.
Both SLA and FDM techniques have their pros and cons depending upon their applications. If an individual is aiming for more intricate designs, then SLA printing is what the person would opt for. Whereas if an individual wants to print cheap and in bulk, they would prefer the FDM printing technique. At C3D, we provide all the 3D printing services in the utmost quality and precision with the help of all these technologies.