Should I choose SLA or FDM?

You might be reading this because you’re looking at whether you should be printing using FDM or SLA 3D printing technology. Look no further! This blog post aims to equip you with all the relevant information you need to decide which printing technology suits your project’s needs.


How do they work?

3D printing, sometimes known as additive manufacturing, is the construction of a 3 dimensional object from a 3D model file. All additive manufacturing processes create these objects one layer at a time, and there are a variety of technologies that accomplish this.

FDM (Fused Deposition Modelling) 3D printing involves melting plastic through a small nozzle and laying it down on a plate one layer at a time. An easy way to picture this is filling up a cone with a soft-serve machine.

Imagine trying to being asked to build a mini pyramid with a tube of toothpaste. You’d probably start by squeezing out a square, and then build it up layer by layer with smaller squares until you have a pyramid.

SLA (Stereolithography) 3D printing is also additive, building up one layer at a time. Instead of hot plastic filament being pushed out of a nozzle, the entire layer is formed by curing a liquid resin using an UV LCD screen. After the layer is cured, a moving build plate takes the cured layer away from the LCD to make room for the next layer. 


Which one should I use?

When deciding which 3D printing technology to use, it is important to consider the resolution and quality requirements of the object being printed as well as the strength and durability requirements.

Resolution / Quality
SLA is generally the better choice for high-resolution, accurate prints, while FDM is a better choice for strong, durable prints.

SLA 3D printing is generally slower but produces smoother surfaces than FDM, but it is also more expensive and requires more careful handling of finished parts. FDM is typically less expensive than SLA and offers a wider range of materials, making it a good choice for large-scale production

Material Versatility / (Strength / Flexibility / Heat 
SLA is typically better suited for more complex designs, while FDM is more versatile in terms of material choices. The versatility in material choices can accomodate projects that require flexibility, strength, heat-resistance, or other specific properties. 

Accuracy / Precision
SLA 3D printing is best for projects that require extreme precision, while FDM 3D printing is a better choice for projects that can tolerate some imprecision.


SLA and FDM 3D printing are both popular choices for prototyping and manufacturing, but there are some important differences to consider. SLA is generally more accurate and produces smoother results, but it is also more expensive and slower. FDM is less precise but faster and cheaper, making it a good choice for large or complex projects. To get the best results, it's important to consult with a 3D printing expert to discuss your project requirements. They will be able to recommend the best technology for your needs and budget.


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