Ideas too large for a print bed?

Stereolithography, also known as SLA or SL for short, is the veteran of 3D printing technologies. It’s been around at Materialise since 1990, and continues to be one of the most widely-used rapid prototyping technologies for plastic models.

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How Does Stereolithography Work?

Stereolithography is a laser-based technology that uses a UV-sensitive liquid resin. A UV laser beam scans the surface of the resin and selectively hardens the material corresponding to a cross section of the product, building the 3D part from the bottom to the top. The required supports for overhangs and cavities are automatically generated, and later manually removed.


Why choose Stereolithography?

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 in no time. At Materialise, we’ve also developed our own patented Mammoth Stereolithography machines that let us build and ship parts in less than a day. And they even give you the freedom to 3D print parts up to 2 meters long in a single build.


Ideal applications for Stereolithography

  • Visual prototypes for photo shoots and market testing
  • “Show and tell” parts with smooth surfaces and fine details
  • Prototypes for limited functional testing
  • Masters for copying techniques such as Vacuum Casting
  • Alternatives for sheet metal prototypes when coated with a metal plating process
  • Patterns for investment casting
  • Low-volume production of complex geometries

Choose Stereolithography
When You Need…

  • Fast lead times, up to 24 hours
  • High accuracy and surface quality
  • Large single-build parts
  • Transparent parts

Technical Specifications for Stereolithography

Standard lead time Minimum of 2 working days (or 24 hours for models using the NextDay service at Materialise OnSite), depending on part size, number of components and finishing degrees
Standard accuracy ± 0.2% (with lower limit on ± 0.2 mm)
Sensitive to UV light (for example, direct sunlight)
Layer thickness Mammoth SL: 0.1 mm
Standard SL: 0.1 – 0.15 mm (varies by material)
NextDay SL: 0.15 – 0.2 mm (varies by material)
Minimum wall thickness 0.8 mm
Maximum part dimensions Mammoth SL: 2100 x 700 x 800 mm
Standard SL: 500 x 500 x 580 mm
NextDay SL: 650 x 650 x 450 mm
Dimensions are unlimited as components may be composed of several sub-parts
Surface structure Unfinished parts typically have visible building layers on the surface but post-production finishes can achieve different effects, from high glosses to coarse textures. Stereolithography parts can be sandblasted, smoothed, colored/impregnated, painted, varnished, covered and coated

Materials for Stereolithography

For more material properties and technical specifications, please visit our Resource Center to download the material datasheets.

Finishing Degrees for Stereolithography Parts

Finishing Support removal Curing Sandblasting Smoothing Primer Coating/Paint
Support Marks Removed      
Building layers not visible
Technical Transparent
Building layers slightly visible

Transparent paint on all surfaces
Cosmetic Transparent
Building layers not visible

Transparent paint on all surfaces
Spray Paint    
Spray painted according to RAL color
Coated in flocking fiber for velvet-like touch; available in 20 colors
High-Gloss Chrome  
Electroplated with high-gloss chrome
Soft Touch
Soft touch coating according to RAL color (translucent)
Dead Matte Paint
Our most matte option, with gloss factor of 10%
Matte Paint
Gloss factor of 30%
Satin Paint
Gloss factor of 50%
High-Gloss Paint
Our most glossy option, with gloss factor of 90%
Fine-Texture Paint
Matte color paint with fine texture
Medium-Texture Paint
Matte color paint with medium texture
Coarse-Texture Paint
Matte color paint with coarse texture