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SLA vs FDM – Which 3D Printing Technology is Better Suited for Your Product?

4 Mins read
FDM 3D printing, SLA vs FDM
Above: FDM 3D printing/Image Source: Xometry

When it comes to 3D printing, the materials and processes will play a significant role in how things turn out. Certain technologies and mediums are better suited for certain projects. Users are in a constant conundrum between two popular technologies, the resin-based Stereolithography (SLA), and the filament based Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM). We compare SLA vs FDM and break down some criteria on which to judge the two technologies.

What is FDM?

FDM or Fused Deposition Modeling uses polymer material in filament form to create plastic parts and objects. It is widely known for its cost effectiveness, speed and accuracy.

What is SLA?

SLA or Stereolithography is the first ever developed 3D printing technology. It uses a combination of photosensitive resin and UV light to iteratively create layers of an object. It found initial success in the automotive industry but it used throughout the manufacturing world today.

SLA vs FDM

So which technology material is better for your project? Let’s take a look at 6 elements of comparison below:

1. Durability

When it comes to simple durability, FDM is much better as a solution than SLA resin. It is far more robust, easier to use, and better for customization.

FDM is the only way a person should be going when it comes to finding a solution that is going to last for a long time to come.

It is far more affordable and it lasts as long as you want it to. This is what pushes 3D printing to the next level and why most users will only lean on FDM when it comes to durability.

2. Usability

Even the best material in the world is useless when it is not versatile.

This is not an issue with FDM, which is why it is the go-to option in the industry. This is a robust, easy-going material that a person can rely on without having to think twice.

You will know how it is going to work out and it will last as long as you want it to. This is what makes a real difference when it comes to 3D printing a solution that will look the part as soon as it is out of the printer.

3. Brittle Elements

There are brittle elements associated with SLA resin, which are not present with FDM. This is a key detail to think about when you are attempting to figure out what is valuable and what is not.

In this case, you are going to be choosing something that will last and that is what FDM brings to the 3D printing process.

The elements are not going to break down even when you are creating a larger piece. This makes a real difference as the overall performance of what you are printing changes too.

4. Consistency

It’s one thing to use SLA resin or FDM and another to make sure the consistency is there. This is something a lot of people struggle with when they are trying to figure out the right way to proceed.

You will want to go with something that is easy to set up and is not going to break down at the first sign of trouble.

FDM does well because it’s as consistent as you want it to be. This means the finish is consistent and that increases how strong the end product is.

You will know it is going to age the way you want it to.

5. Mechanical Performance

3D printing is not just about how long the material is going to last once the printing is over. It’s also important to think about how the mechanical performance is going to be when everything is said and done.

FDM tends to do a lot better in this regard and will age gracefully.

This is useful for those who are creating something that will have to last for a long time and can’t break down as soon as it is printed.

The overall performance of FDM is far more reliable and reasonable.

6. Cost

If a user wants to bring things up to par with FDM, it is not easy to do so. Yes, it is possible to get things closer in strength but that ends up costing a lot.

The reason it costs a lot is due to the yield per unit. The cost rises as a lot of the material goes to waste in comparison to something like FDM. When it comes to 3D printing, material that goes to waste is an expense you are going to have to keep in mind.

Final Thoughts

FDM is much stronger than SLA resin and offers a long list of advantages for those who want to maximize their 3D printing output.

Whether it has to do with how brittle SLA resin is or the overall usability of the FDM, there is a level of quality that comes along with the latter that’s impossible to ignore. You are going to enjoy knowing the printing process will work out as planned when you use FDM.

For a lot of people, this is what they struggle with and that is a real hurdle to keep in mind over the long haul.

If there is a choice, FDM is the way to go.


About Manufactur3D Magazine: Manufactur3D is an online magazine on 3D printing. which publishes the latest 3D printing news, insights and analysis from all around the world. Visit our 3D Printing Education page to read more such informative articles. To stay up-to-date about the latest happenings in the 3D printing world, like us on Facebook or follow us on LinkedIn.

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Manufactur3D is an Indian Online 3D Printing Media Platform that reports on the latest news, insights and analysis from the Indian and the Global 3D Printing Industry.
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