Looking for a stereolithography (LCD/DLP/SLA) 3D printer? Check out the All3DP.com Spring 2019 buyer's guide to the 23 best resin 3D printers on the market right now.
Resin 3D printers are great. They produce extremely accurate prints, offer a wide variety of materials and are relatively fast. These precision machines used to cost thousands of dollars, but in recent years desktop resin 3D printers have become ridiculously cheap.
What are the Differences Between LCD, DLP and SLA 3D Printing?
Although SLA and DLP technology are extremely similar in principle, there are slight differences that separate the two.
SLA 3D printing utilizes two motors known as galvanometers. These motors, placed on the X and Y axis, work together to rapidly angle a pair of mirrors to aim a laser beam across the print area, solidifying resin into a 3D model. The layers of the model are broken down into a series of points and lines, which the galvos use to direct the laser beam.
On the other hand, DLP technology uses a digital projector screen to flash a single image of each layer across the entire platform at once. Each layer of the 3D model is displayed as square pixels, meaning that the print is comprised of voxels.
As for LCD 3D printing, the process is nearly identical to DLP in that it utilizes projected light to solidify resin layer-by-layer until a 3D model is built. The main difference is that LCD 3D printers use a bank of UV LEDs to project light through a mask of the layer on an LCD panel, whereas DLP 3D printers utilize an array of micro-mirrors (each mirror corresponding to a pixel) to either project light, or not, thus creating a mask.
A number of companies are attempting to rebrand LCD-based resin printing, with one notable example being Structo and its Mask SLA (MSLA) – a term also adopted by Prusa for the upcoming SL1.