3D printers are fairly easy to understand when you take a closer look at the mechanics. Common 3D printers use fused deposition modeling, or FDM, which stacks thin layers of material on top of each other to turn an electronic blueprint into a fully-realized model. While this can be used to create a number of things ranging from chess pieces to sex toys FDM does have its limitations. The final product can be “grainy” for instance, meaning that the layers give it a blocky, unfinished look instead of creating a high-definition, smooth appearance one would expect when replicating something.
That’s why stereolithography 3D printers are gaining in popularity.
Stereolithographic 3D printing is a completely different type of 3D printing. Rather than building an object one layer at a time machines that use stereolithography (SLA) use lasers to harden layers of liquid plastic into layers. The resulting items are smoother, and are considered high-resolution when compared with the products that are created using the more common FDM style of 3D printing.
When Can I Get Hold Of It?
That depends; how much money are you willing to spend?
3D printers aren’t cheap, even though FDM printers are finally getting into a place where they might be considered affordable for a household. SLA printers are very precise instruments, and they’re typically used by corporations for rapid prototyping, or by medical scientists to create precise implants for patients. While the cost is certainly something to keep in mind though, SLA printers are refining 3D printing to the point where it can be used in an ever-growing array of ways. Whether it’s creating frameworks for stem cells to grow on or printing out dissolving implants that the body can flush out once their work is done, SLA is definitely here to stay.