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Also known as sterolithography, SLA is one of the early forms of 3D printing. SLA uses UV light, concentrated into a laser, in order to harden and solidify a photopolymer, UV curable resin. This form of printing is similar to SLS, but SLA requires supports built with the object, as a lack thereof means parts of the object will be floating in the liquid resin. As the laser traces a CAD object onto the resin, the resin reservoir will lower one layer so the laser can trace the next. Some printers invert this step; they place the laser under the reservoir and shoot the laser unto a build platform which raises with every layer, as a result it appears as of an object is being pulled from the resin. The Formlabs Form 1 and Autodesk Ember are SLA printers.

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-Incredibly accurate; useful for precision

-Seamless models, nearly watertight, if not

-Little waste of material

-Ideal for negative mold making

-Possible applications for lens making

-Possible to control flexibility and hardness by exposure to UV


-Extremely pricey, material comes in liters and can be over $100 a liter

-Currently, printing can be extremely slow

-Not user-serviceable

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