High Definition 3D Printing – Comparing SLA and FDM Printing Technologies

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Vol: 13, Issue: 1

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Finnes, Tyler
Computer Engineering; Hardware Systems; Mechanical Engineering
article description
For consumer level additive manufacturing, there are currently two main methods to 3D print objects: Stereo lithography and Fused Deposition Modeling. Both processes add material, layer by layer, to create objects. Stereo lithography (SLA) uses a UV light source to selectively cure resin while Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM) extrudes semi-liquid plastic in a specific layout to create objects. As with most technologies, both styles of printing have advantages and disadvantages. The biggest advantage of SLA 3D printing is very high resolution. SLA 3D printing can produce objects with more than double the resolution of FDM printers. The mUVe 3D SLA printer and a Makerbot Replicator 2x were used in this paper. The mUVe 3d SLA printer is different from most SLA 3D printers that use a galvanometer or Digital Laser Projector (DLP) as a light source, the mUVe 3D printer uses a UV laser mounted on a Cartesian coordinate gantry system to cure the resin. This research focuses on the difference between the Cartesian coordinate gantry system and the standard galvanometer or DLP approach. Portions of the mUVe 3D printer were redesigned and the function of the 3D printer was tested by comparing print quality after the redesign was implemented. After the design revisions were implemented, the machine produced smoother parts and consistent functionality was improved. The resolution, determined by microscope measurement analysis, of the mUVe 3D printer was found to be significantly better than an FDM printer, however, SLA printers are more difficult for consumers to calibrate and use at home. This better resolution was the result of the much smaller deposition (laser) diameter on the mUVe compared to an FDM printer (nozzle).