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STEREOLITHOGRAPHY

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Stereolithography starts with a design produced through the use of CAD software. The 3D design is exported as a STL file (Standard Tessellation Language). It is this file, that is used to drive the SLA ( StereoLithographic Apparatus) machine, which manufactures the product / component.
 
 
 
This is an industrial process, involving liquid resin (a polymer) stored in a tank, which is solidified layer by layer, through the use of a laser. The product / component is ‘built’ on a platform, which moves down microns ( a micron = one thousandth of a millimetre) at a time. The laser solidifies a layer, before the platform moves down, allowing the laser to solidify the next layer. This process continues until the product / component is complete. The laser process, fuses the layers of resin together, resulting in a solid object. In summary, the stereolithographic process, converts liquid polymer to a solid component / product.
 
 
STEREOLITHOGRAPHY - SAMPLE PRODUCTS / COMPONENTS
 
 
 
 
ADVANTAGES OF STEREOLITHOGRAPHY
Ideal for the manufacture of prototypes.
Efficient use of materials - no waste.
Cost effective for one-offs and low production numbers.
Solid and flexible components / products can be manufactured through this process.
Produces a smooth surface finish.
Can produce clear / transparent or opaque components.
A number of resin based components can be manufactured in the same tank, at the same time.
This process can manufacture products that cannot be manufactured through traditional engineering methods.
 
DISADVANTAGES OF STEREOLITHOGRAPHY
Only resin / polymer components / products can be manufactured.
The structural strength of the product / component is limited, due to the nature of resin / polymers.
The initial set-up of machinery (SLA machine) is expensive.
Resin has limited resistance to UV light (including sunlight).
 
 
 
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