Stereolithography (SL)
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What Is Stereolithography?

Stereolithography (SLA) is the original 3D printing process still widely used today for its accuracy and speed. SL is often used for prototypes, large concept models, form and fit models, investment casting patterns and master patterns.

How Does Stereolithography Work?

Stereolithography builds parts with a precise UV laser to cure and solidify thin layers of a photo-reactive resin.

Post-build, SL parts require some support material removal and UV curing, as well as hand finishing or other requested post-processing.

Advantages and Capabilities

a life-size superhero model 3d printed using the id-light stereolithography process

Iterate Faster with Stereolithography

The design freedom and speed of Stereolithography makes design changes, iteration and validation easier than ever allowing you to get to market faster.

Dimensional Accuracy and Smooth Finishes

Stereolithography can create high dimensional accuracy parts with intricate designs and smooth surfaces. It also allows us to print watertight components in clear materials making it easy to test fluid flow found in product designs.

Virtually Limitless Part Size

At Stratasys Direct we can build extremely light, large-scale parts in record time with our exclusive hollow build method. ID-Light is ideal for nonstructural appearance models. These parts build faster, weighs less and costs less than solid SL models. They also have a better as-built surface than 10-20 pound foam. Contact an engineer now to learn more.

Variety of Material Properties to Meet Your Project’s Needs

Our wide range of Stereolithography photopolymers serve our customer’s requirements, from clear to strong, rigid plastics to special formulas for investment casting patterns.

Stereolithography Finishing Experts

Our finishing expertise take your 3D printed prototype and transforms it into a replica of your finished product. Any surface look is achievable with our expert finishers.

Custom finishing, texture, color, artwork, EMI/RFI shielding, plating and other functional coatings can bring additional value to prototyping and models.

Materials for 3D Printing Parts with Stereolithography

Look to SL for excellent dimensional tolerances, smooth surfaces and fine feature details. Mimic properties of ABS, polycarbonate and polypropylene in layers as low as 0.002”.

Material

Description Benefits Applications Properties

Somos® ProtoGen 18420

Highly accurate and good for most quick delivery prototyping applications
  • Great combination of accuracy and functional properties
  • Fast, easy finishing
  • Highly accurate
  • Automotive parts
  • Consumer products
  • Electrical housings
  • Tooling masters
DATASHEET

Somos® WaterClear Ultra 10122

A clear and colorless material suited for lenses and see-through covers
  • Extraordinary clarity
  • Colorless
  • Easy to finish
  • Automotive lenses
  • Bottles
  • Lenses
  • Light pipes
DATASHEET

Somos® WaterShed XC 11122

Produces highly detailed parts with great clarity and water-resistance
  • Easy to use and finish
  • Superior moisture resistance
  • Exceptional clarity
  • Consumer products
  • Fluid flow analysis
  • Lenses
DATASHEET

Somos® NeXt

Higher impact resistance than standard SL resins; Moisture resistance
  • Superior impact strength and durability
  • Exceptionally versatile
  • Thermoplastic-like performance, look and feel
  • Tough, functional end-use prototypes
  • Snap-fit designs
  • Jigs and fixtures
  • Packaging and sporting goods
DATASHEET

SC 1000P

Custom formulation ideal for low cost investment casting patterns
  • Reduced cost
  • Low residual ash
  • Excellent accuracy
  • Excellent for investment casting patterns
  • Ideal for large, lightweight models utilizing ID-LightTM
DATASHEET

Stereolithography Applications

stereolithography rapid prototyping

Rapid Prototyping

Evaluate your design with a physical model and get to market faster with SL.

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stereolithography concept models

Concept Models

Build light-weight, cosmetic versions of your product with our hollow build method.

Read More

stereolithography investment casting patterns

Investment Casting Patterns

Our proprietary photopolymer and build style produces consistent patterns with better burnout.

Read More

Contact an Engineer

Ready to make your part with SL? Contact an expert to get your project started.

Contact an Engineer

Get Design Services

Need some assistance with your 3D design? Our design services team offers a suite of solutions, including file creation and file repair.

Get Design Services

Use Material Wizard

Want to compare SL material properties? Use our material wizard to find out which materials meet your part's requirements.

Use Material Wizard

Stereolithography Resources

investment casting design guidelines

Stereolithography Design Tips

Download our short Stereolithography Design Tips PDF to learn how this technology can be the solution for you.

Download our short Stereolithography Design Tips PDF to learn how this technology can be the solution for you.

Download Design Tips
printing hearts

Printing Hearts

Doctors at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute utilize SL to recreate accurate models of their patients’ hearts before performing surgery.

Doctors at the Texas Cardiac Arrhythmia Institute utilize SL to recreate accurate models of their patients’ hearts before performing surgery.

Read Case Study
3d printing and foundries

3D Printing and Foundries

More than 20 years with experience has led us to develop key solutions for our foundry customers.

More than 20 years with experience has led us to develop key solutions for our foundry customers.

Read the Article

Frequently Asked Questions About Stereolithography

a production floor with a row of stereolithography industrial 3d printers

What geometries are best suited for SL?

Stereolithography is ideal for parts with small features that require tighter dimensional tolerances and smooth finishes. SL is ideal for small to large prototypes.

What level of detail can be obtained with SL?

Stereolithography is available in a variety of resolutions. At its finest resolution, the layer thickness is 0.002” and the X/Y resolution is 0.005”.

What is the minimum wall thickness for SL?

We recommend a minimum wall thickness of 1.5mm or 0.06” as smaller walls may not hold up when it comes to support removal or media blasting.

Can SL-made components function as production parts?

Stereolithography is not generally considered suitable for production applications because the photo-reactive resins used in the process do not remain stable under long exposure to UV light.

However, SL is often used to make precise investment casting patterns to create end-use metal parts.

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