SLA & SLS Prototyping
Star Prototype offers top quality stereolithography (SLA) and selective laser sintering (SLS) prototyping services. We pride ourselves on quality customer service, delivering on-time and offering professional customer support in multiple languages.
The first stereolithography machine was perfected in 1987 and gave birth to the rapid prototyping industry. SLA prototyping is a process whereby a laser converts a liquid photopolymer into a solid plastic prototype layer by layer, with each layer being slightly different. By joining the layers together, a 3D model is built. SLA prototypes can be made in a wide range of materials with very good mechanical properties. Star Prototype manufactures SLA prototypes using DSM Somos 14120, which closely simulates ABS thermoplastic and produces strong, water-resistant prototypes. Our SLA models are primarily used as master patterns to produce silicone rubber molds for vacuum casting of polyurethane.
Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
Selective laser sintering was commercially developed in the mid 1980s in Texas, although a similar process dates to 1979. SLS prototyping is a similar manufacturing process to SLA, but SLS uses a much higher power laser to bond plastic powder together to form a 3D prototype. Typically, selective laser sintering uses Polyamide (Nylon). It is also possible to use glass-filled nylon in SLS prototyping.
Historically, SLS parts were considered more durable than SLA, but as SLA materials improve, this gap is narrowing. SLS prototyping is also considered quite wasteful, as up to 30% of all non-converted powder must be removed during the process, so as to refresh the powder stock. SLA prototyping has almost no material waste.
SLA and SLS models are typically +/- 0.1mm in X & Y and +/- 0.3mm in Z. This varies up or down for various geometries and sizes. If a customer needs a tight tolerance in a particular area, they can specify this in a 2D PDF, and we will machine or finish the part to suit.