What is SLA 3D Printing?

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Updated February 3, 2023

If you are new to the world of physical printing, you may wonder what is SLA 3D printing. 3D printers are counted among the best printers out there, and SLA printing is a popular sub-type. One of the oldest methods of 3D printing, it uses stereolithography and liquid resin to create an object. So what exactly is SLA printing, and what are some advantages to this method? Keep reading to find out.


  • SLA stands for stereolithography and is one of the oldest and most popular types of 3D printing technologies.
  • These printers use containers of liquid resin to create models and not spools of filament or other materials.
  • Resin is known for its extremely smooth finish and wide versatility, as it works with many applications, like making functional prototypes and rapid prototyping in general.

Before learning all about MSLA 3D printing, SLA 3D printing, and other types, it is helpful to understand the basics of 3D printing. Printers use a wide range of raw materials to make 3D objects if you are wondering why 3D printing is so expensive. These printers extrude heating materials to build 3D objects, even if you are just learning about SLS 3D printing.

Insider Tip

The learning curve is a bit steeper when working with resin when compared to a filament, which is worth considering.

What is SLA Printing?

Stereolithography (SLA) printing is one of the oldest and most revered types of 3D printing. This additive manufacturing process is part of the vat photopolymerization family, otherwise known as resin 3D printing. In other words, SLA printers use containers of resin to build 3D objects and not spools of filament. The process here integrates a light source to cure the photopolymer resin before shaping it according to the design specifications.

Benefits of SLA Printing

SLA printing has been around for a long time, and for good reason. There are many benefits to choosing this type of printer for your next 3D printing process.

Continuous Designs

SLA designs are continuous with no partitions or obvious gaps. This holds some serious benefits. SLA objects are airtight and watertight, drastically increasing the number of appropriate use case scenarios. This is great for regular consumers but really excellent for manufacturers who use these mechanical properties to design all sorts of objects in a wide range of sectors.

Smooth Surface Finish

These printers are prized primarily for the smooth finishes on the surfaces of 3D models. The finishes with SLA printers get much smoother than with nearly any other type, eliminating many of the inaccuracies and jags inherent to these other printer types. This helps reduce the post-processing and curing time, as resin objects do require some curing after the fact.

STAT: SLA, or stereolithography, is a widely-used 3D printing process and the most popular of the resin printing technologies.(source)


Resin is available in multiple types, each with unique mechanical properties. This means you can create just about anything you can think of using one of these printers.

SLA Printing FAQs

What materials are used for SLA printing?

SLA printers use liquid resin and ultraviolet laser beams to create objects layer by layer. This makes this type of printer excel at rapid prototyping due to the smooth surface finish.

What is rapid prototyping?

Rapid prototyping refers to using a range of materials to create quick prototypes of working designs, no matter the 3D printing method. UV lasers, selective laser sintering, and photosensitive resin are all great materials for this task.

Why choose SLA printing?

When looking at various 3D printing technologies available to 3D printers, this type of additive manufacturing technology is a fantastic option due to the smooth finish and accuracy of the finished products.
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