Stereolithography is an Additive Manufacturing/ 3D Printing process that involves a part being built slice by slice from bottom to top in a vessel of liquid resin that hardens when struck by a UV laser.
In more detail, this process takes place in a tank. A computer controlled UV laser draws the first layer of the design onto a thin surface of resin, which hardens where struck by the UV laser. The part is then lowered to a depth corresponding to the section's thickness, a layer of liquid resin is spread across the platform and the next cross section is drawn directly on top of the previous one and they bind together. This is repeated until the part is finished.
Before the build begins, supports are required for overhangs and cavities and these are generated either automatically, with software such as Materialise’s e-Stage, or manually, also with specialized software, such as Materialise’s Magics SG module. The supports are removed manually after the product is taken from the stereolithography machine.
Stereolithography is used for both Manufacturing and Rapid Prototyping and at Materialise it can be used to create large pieces with patented Mammoth Stereolithography machines. Materialise also uses the technology to produce many of the pieces in its .MGX by Materialise line of design products.