Stereolithography (SLA) is a 3D printing method that creates an object by solidifying a liquid polymer resin; these resins are photosensitive thermoset polymers. The object is created by directing a ultraviolet (UV) laser beam at specific points in a bed of resin. Once the layer has solidified the build platform lifts the object for the next layer to be solidified.
Parts that require high accuracy or a smooth finish are best created through SLA printing.
If parts of very high accuracy or smooth surface finish are needed, SLA is the most cost-effective 3D printing technology available. Best results are achieved when the designer takes advantage of the benefits and limitations of the manufacturing process.
SLA has many common characteristics with Direct Light Processing (DLP), another Vat Photopolymerization 3D printing technology. For simplicity, the two technologies can be treated as equals.