The term “stereolithography” also referred to in the 3D Printing industry as SLA 3D Printing, was coined in 1984 by Chuck Hull when he filed his patent for the process. Chuck Hull patented stereolithography as a method of creating 3D objects by successively “printing” thin layers of an object using a medium curable by ultraviolet light, starting from the bottom layer to the top layer. Hull’s patent described a concentrated beam of ultraviolet light focused onto the surface of a vat filled with a liquid photopolymer. The beam is focused onto the surface of the liquid photopolymer, creating each layer of the desired 3D object by means of crosslinking. It was invented with the intent of allowing engineers to create prototypes of their designs in a more time effective manner. After the patent was granted in 1986, Hull co-founded the world’s first 3D printing company, 3D Systems, to commercialize it. In 1988 the Somos brand of stereolithography materials was created a DuPont. This business unit was later sold off 1999 to DSM who then went on to develop the Somos NeXt material, Somos WaterShed XC 11122 material, and Somos Taurus material that we use in our machines at Forerunner 3DP today.
Why choose SLA 3D Printing:
When you need a part printed yesterday and delivered right now, Stereolithography is what you want to be looking at. It’s a technology that produces great looking models with impeccable surface quality, intricate details, all on parts ranging in size from the very smallest to huge. When lead times must be kept short SLA 3D Printing is a go to technology for us at Forerunner 3DP.
For more detailed information on the accuracy of SLA 3D Printed parts please see our post on the accuracy of 3d Printed parts.
NeXt: An extremely durable stereolithography (SLA) 3D Printing material that creates parts ready for functional testing
Is a highly durable stereolithography material which produces very accurate parts with high feature resolution. This material is ideal for the production of tough, complex parts that also exhibit excellent moisture and thermal resistance. Somos NeXt has a look and feel that is almost indistinguishable from finished traditional thermoplastics, making it perfect for building parts and prototypes for functional testing applications — resulting in time, money and material savings during product development. Somos NeXt is an outstanding material for industries such as aerospace, automotive, medical, consumer products and electronics.
WaterShed XC 11122: An easy to use, low viscosity, water-resistant stereolithography (SLA) 3D Printing material for use in numerous applications
As one of the industry’s most popular materials, Somos WaterShed XC 11122 is the clear solution for numerous applications. Whether you’re a designer looking for highly detailed parts with superior clarity and water resistance, or an engineer focusing on durability for functional testing, Somos WaterShed XC 11122 mimicks the look and feel of clear thermoplastics, such as ABS and PBT. Somos WaterShed XC 11122 produces optically clear parts with a smooth finish and it’s ease of use helps to shorten product development and testing. This versatility means Somos WaterShed XC 11122 is the ideal material in markets such as automotive, aerospace and consumer electronics for applications including packaging, RTV patterns, durable concept models, wind tunnel testing and investment casting patterns.
Learn more about SLA 3D Printed investment casting patterns
Taurus: An extremely durable and high temperature resistant (SLA) 3D Printing material
Is the latest addition to the high impact family of stereolithography (SLA) materials from Somos. The higher heat deflection temperature of this material increases the number of applications for the part user. Taurus brings the combination of thermal and mechanical performance that until now has only been achieved using thermoplastic 3D printing techniques such as FDM and SLS. With Taurus, you can create large, accurate parts with excellent surface quality and isotropic mechanical properties. Its robustness combined with a charcoal grey appearance makes it ideal for the most demanding functional prototyping and even end-use applications.
Accura 25: Flexible (SLA) 3D Printing material used to simulate and replace CNC-machined white polypropylene parts
Accurate and flexible plastic ideal for snap fit assemblies, master patterns for vacuum casting and durable functional prototypes with the aesthetics of molded polypropylene (PP).
NOTE: Parts made with SLA 3D printing can be sanded and painted to be a requested color or left raw.
Engineers and Designers who are planning to produce SLA 3D Printed parts benefit greatly from the extreme design freedom that this process affords with materials like Somos NeXt. Unlike traditional manufacturing processes like injection molding and CNC machining where there are limits on what features can be designed into a part due to cost, set up, or tooling restrictions. SLA 3D Printing is an additive manufacturing process and therefore you are only limited by your imagination and a few very basic guide lines.
Here is a link to our SLA 3D Printed Part Design Guide, it will offer you useful design tips for this 3D printing process as well as answers to many frequently asked questions about about the SLA 3D printing process: