Stereolithography is one of the oldest types of 3D printing. The process applies laser light to photosensitive polymers (resins) to form models or prototypes under computer controls. The process helps medical device designers and other industrial creators visualize their concepts in three dimensions and refine their ideas as a result. The advantages of stereolithography include flexibility, cost savings, and precision.
Stereolithography Is Fast
Depending on the size of the model, prototype, or part being formed and the number of layers necessary, stereolithography can be fast. The resins laid down in this way cure quickly.
Stereolithography Is Accurate
The computer-guided lasers used in the stereolithography process produce detailed models and prototypes. These help designers and manufacturers avoid costly mistakes and redesigns by allowing them to catch flaws early in the process so they can adjust accordingly.
This process can apply very thin layers of resins, resulting in models or parts with exceptionally realistic details. As an additive process, stereolithography doesn’t use molds. This saves the time and materials it would take to produce a mold.
Prototypes and models produced with stereolithography have smooth surfaces, produced without an extra finishing step.
Stereolithography Works With Different Materials
The stereolithography process has evolved to accommodate more than plastic resins. The process can now be used on ceramic powders or to join metals. The process can replace expensive and labor-intensive machining to form precision component parts.
Resins used in stereolithography are reusable. Prototypes that reveal design flaws can be adjusted as they are made. Materials that haven’t yet cured to hardness can be reused to produce other parts or models.
Multi-Part Assemblies Are Possible
The precision computer guidance and computer-assisted designs make it possible to produce several parts that can then be connected in a more complex assembly. This ability also makes design changes easier by breaking down complex designs into component parts that can be individually adjusted.
Texturing Is Possible
Although the smooth finish produced by stereolithography is one of its best benefits, stereolithography makes it possible to create objects with varying textures. Prototypes can be formed from different kinds of resins or layered under computer instructions to create textured areas based on how the material is layered and built.
Stereolithography provides advantages in speed, cost-effectiveness, flexibility, and precision. These advantages make stereolithography for medical device design, among many other industries, a vital process for creating models and prototypes that help refine and prove designs.