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3D Printing in Resin (SLA)

3D printing in SLA resin offers a wide range of materials on offer that can solve a diverse range of engineering challenges. This is, in part, due to the underlying printing technology that produces high-resolution and high-quality parts comparable to injection molded parts.

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About 3D Printing in SLA Resin

SLA, short for stereolithography, is a type of 3D printing technology that makes use of liquid photopolymers instead of plastic filament or powder. This technology projects an image of the part one layer at a time. The light produced by the projector cures that layer of photopolymer in the proper pattern. This style of printing offers incredible detail and resolution while working with robust materials that can be used in working prototypes or even short production run components comparable to the look of injection molded parts. As can be seen below there is a very wide range of materials on offer from polypropylene-like materials to optically clear polycarbonate-like materials.

3D Printed SLA at a Glance
ApplicationOptically clear lenses, snap-fit components, enclosures, functional prototypes, testing equipment
AdvantagesWide range of materials and properties, can produce optically clear parts, limited finishing required, high-resolution parts
DisdvantagesSome materials can be expensive, some materials produce brittle parts, limited UV resistance
Lead Time3 days
Price$-$$
Minimum Feature Size0.020", recommended 0.030" (0.51 mm, recommended
TolerancesXY plane: +/- 0.005” for the first inch, plus +/- 0.002” for every inch thereafter. Z plane: +/- 0.010” for the first inch, plus +/- 0.002” for every inch thereafter.
Layer HeightStandard Resolution: 0.004”, High-Resolution: 0.002”
Max Part SizeStandard Resolution: 29” x 25” x 21”, High-Resolution: 10” x 10” x 10”

Accura 25

This material is similar to polypropylene and has good strength, ductility, and resilience. It’s thus ideal for testing out snap-fit functionality for functional prototypes and creating master patterns for casting components out of silicone or polyurethane. The smoothness of 3D printing in Accura 25 allows these components to look the part of molded components. See the full datasheet here.

Somos NeXt

This polypropylene-like material produces high-resolution parts with improved thermal properties, toughness, and moisture resistance. Like other polypropylene-like materials, Somos NeXt is ideal for snap-fit testing as well as electrical connections, packaging, and sporting goods. See the full datasheet here.

Properties of Polypropylene-like Resins
Material NameTensile Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Colors and ClarityHeat Deflection Temperature (℃)
Accura 2555-5813-20White, Opaque58-63
Somos NeXt41.1-43.38-10White, Opaque55-57

Accura ABS - SL 7820

This durable ABS-like material can take the place of either CNC-machined black ABS or injection-molded ABS for short production runs. Unlike most other materials on this list, parts printed in SL 7820 may be painted. Typical applications can include master patterns for vacuum castings and functional assemblies. See the full datasheet here.

Accura Xtreme Grey

This popular ABS-like material can be used to test functional assemblies because it resists breaking and is highly durable. Other applications may include master patterns for vacuum casting, form and fit prototypes, and medical device prototyping. See the full datasheet here.

Accura Xtreme White

This ABS-like material has excellent toughness and durability ratings and resists breakage. It serves as a good replacement for CNC-machined ABS or polypropylene for short production runs. Applications can include enclosures that are exposed to tough conditions as well as for snap-fit assembly testing and masters for mold making. See the full datasheet here.

Somos EvoLVe 128

This ABS-like material has an excellent surface finish that makes its parts look like normal injection-molded thermoplastics. It is also specifically designed for improved post-processing allowing for even more impressive finishes. These properties make it ideal for visual, form, and fit prototypes. See the full datasheet here.

Somos ProtoGen 18420

This ABS-like material is ideal for general-purpose 3D printing in SLA. This material offers improved chemical resistance when compared to other general-purpose SLA resins. It also shows good resistance to moisture absorption. Typical applications can include master mold patterns and parts that demand good temperature and humidity resistance. See the full datasheet here.

Somos Taurus

This ABS-like material has exceptional impact resistance as well as one of the highest temperature-resistance ratings of any photopolymer. Somos Taurus exhibits properties close to those of thermoplastics—a valuable quality amongst 3D printed SLA plastics. Applications can include consumer-ready parts, low-volume electrical connectors, and automotive components. See the full datasheet here.

Somos Watershed Black

This ABS-like material has a deep black finish that does not require any painting or excessive post-processing. In addition to its aesthetic properties, it resists moisture and chemical reactions. It’s most often used in components that require high durability and stiffness like packaging, enclosures, and functional prototypes. See the full datasheet here.

SLA Somos Watershed XC 11122

The key feature of this ABS-like material is its natural optical clarity that can be further enhanced with some post-processing. In addition to its clarity, this material is water resistant and exhibits the properties of thermoplastics such as ABS and PBT. Applications can include consumer products, clear testing equipment for fluid flow analyses, and even lenses. See the full datasheet here.

Properties of ABS-like SLA Resins
Material NameTensile Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Colors and ClarityHeat Deflection Temperature (℃)
Accura ABS (SL 7820)45-476-13Black (Painted), Opaque51
Accura Xtreme Grey38-4414-22Grey, Opaque62
Accura Xtreme White45-507-20White, Opaque47
Somos EvoLVe 12856.811Off-White, Opaque52.3
Somos Protogen 1842066.1-68.16-9White, Opaque93-98
Somos Taurus4917Dark Grey, Opaque91
Somos Watershed50.415.5Black, Opaque50
Somos Watershed XC 1112250.415.5Clear, Translucent50

Accura 48HTR

This polycarbonate-like material has one of the highest temperature-resistance values of any photopolymer. Its heat resistance even surpasses some thermoplastics. In addition to this, it is translucent which enables unprecedented analyses of high-temperature fluid flow. Applications can include testing and verification of intake manifolds and other high-temperature fluid analyses. See the full datasheet here.

Accura 60

This polycarbonate-like material is naturally transparent. This benefit can be further enhanced with some post-processing. It is very tough and is ideal for casings on functional prototypes that require visibility to the components inside. It’s also commonly found in lenses for lighting applications. See the full datasheet here.

Accura ClearVue

This polycarbonate-like material has exceptional clarity verging on complete transparency. These properties can be even further improved with some post-processing. While other photopolymers may appear very clear, this material is the industry leader in optical clarity and is best suited for applications that require high transparency coupled with rigidity and durability. It also meets UPS class VI requirements, making it biocompatible for some medical applications.  See the full datasheet here.

Somos ProtoTherm 12120

This polycarbonate-like material has excellent temperature resistance and mechanical strength. It stands above other temperature-resistant photopolymers due to the fact that it maintains excellent tensile strength even after heat treatment. Applications include high-temperature components in the automotive and aerospace industry such as inlet manifolds used on high-performance vehicles.  See the full datasheet here.

Somos WaterClear Ultra - 10122

This polycarbonate-like material exhibits excellent optical clarity while also displaying relatively good temperature resistance and durability. Typical applications include light pipes, bottles, and automotive lenses. Its clarity also allows for optically clear prototypes. See the full datasheet here.

Properties of Polycarbonate-like SLA Resins
Material NameTensile Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Colors and ClarityHeat Deflection Temperature (°C)
Accura 48HTR64-674-7Amber, Translucent130
Accura 6058-685-13Clear, Translucent53-55
Accura Clearvue41-464-7Clear, Translucent46
Somos ProtoTherm 12120774.5Red, Translucent126.2
Somos WaterClear Ultra 1012255-566-9Clear, Transparent59-61

Accura Bluestone

This ceramic-filled photopolymer is extremely stiff when compared to other SLA 3D printing materials. With additional heat treatment, this material also resists high temperatures far better than most thermoplastics. Applications can include impellers, fixtures, jigs, and under-the-hood automotive components that are exposed to high temperatures. See the full datasheet here.

SLA Somos PerFORM

This ceramic-filled photopolymer has similar properties to Accura Bluestone except it has a lower viscosity to enable the creation of highly detailed parts. This makes it ideal in wind tunnel testing applications where surfaces need to be as smooth as possible. It also exhibits excellent temperature resistance if put through additional heat treatment. See the full datasheet here.

Properties of Ceramic-filled Composites
Material NameTensile Strength (MPa)Elongation at Break (%)Colors and ClarityHeat Deflection Temperature (°C)
Accura Bluestone66-681.4-2.4Blue, Opaque65
Somos PerFORM801.2Off-white, Opaque268

Finishes

Xometry offers a wide range of surface finishes for parts 3D printed in SLA, some of which are listed below. To learn about additional finishing options, follow this link.


  • Strip and Ship: This simply means removing any supports from the part. No further work is done and there may be some blemishes visible from the support removal process.
  • Standard: The supports are removed from the part (if applicable), then the surface is lightly sanded and media blasted. This creates a smooth, uniform finish.
  • Quick Clear: This surface finish is unique to SLA and applies to most translucent materials. The supports are removed and the relevant areas are sanded down. A clear coat is then applied that significantly enhances the natural clarity of the material.

SLA Accura ClearVue with a matte frosted finish

Cost-saving Design Tips

To make 3D printing in SLA more economical, follow these cost-saving design tips:

  • DFM: 3D printing in SLA is relatively forgiving and produces high-quality components with little effort. However, it is important to remember some key design-for-manufacturing rules. For example, do not design parts with enclosed cavities. Unused resin must have holes from which it can drain after printing concludes.
  • Choose the right plastic and process: The SLA 3D printing resins listed above offer a wide range of potential applications. It is important to only use the right material for the job. Optically clear and ceramic-infused resins are more expensive than standard resins and may not be suitable for components that need to be flexible.
    FDM 3d print large part mail tray box
    Instant Quoting Engine

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