FDM Vs SLA – Which 3D Printer Is Suitable For You? [New 2021]

FDM Vs SLA - Which 3D Printer Is Suitable For You

There is presently a battle between two quite different desktop 3D printers, called FDM (Fused Deposition Modeling) and innovative SLA (Stereolithography). Both FDM Vs SLA is extremely distinct, but they’re likely to stick around the 3D printing globe. Each includes its crucial strengths and software.

But if you are purchasing or learning how to use a 3D printer, it is essential to comprehend the differences between two desktop 3D printers FDM and SLA. Therefore Colorfy is going to discuss doing it!

FDM Technology

FDM stands for Fused Deposition Modeling, which only implies that the material is deposited in only layers that fuse to make a 3D object.

How it works:

A 3D model file (normally a .STL or.OBJ) is imported to a program referred to as a slicer. Cura, Slic3r, and Simplify3D are great examples of slicer programs. This program may “slice” the item into single layers and make code that informs the printer to move and control parameters such as print rate and temperature.

Gcode is delivered to the machine.

The print nozzle heats and melts filament that is forced through the nozzle

The item is constructed layer by layer, with every successive layer fusing in Addition to the one under it till the 3D thing is complete.

Pros and Cons of FDM

FDM printing is just one of the most well-known sorts of 3D printing for house usage. The mechanics are easy, and this permits FDM printers to exist at a reasonable price range, generally between $200 and $4,000.

Though they demand a lot of experimentation and calibration to publish optimally, FDM printers may produce models with medium levels of strength and detail. FDM printers are restricted from the intricacy of these details they could produce, so SLA machines are a much better option for finer versions or professional tier prototypes.

SLA Technology

Stereolithography (SLA) printing was initially invented in the 1980s and operated by curing resin using mild. The mild emitting a liquid resin utilizing a process called photo-polymerization and assembles objects layer by layer. Presently, SLA is one of the most precise kinds of 3D printing.

There are two chief kinds of SLA Technology: laser-based (normally abbreviated as SLA) or projection based (abbreviated DLP for Digital Light Projection).

Laser SLA 3D Printing

How it Works

The 3D Model is imported to a clipping program like PreForm.

A tank is Full of liquid photopolymer resin.

A build platform lowers to the tank, and a single layer of the layout is followed utilizing a UV laser. The laser is placed using galvanometers that are collections of mirrors that rotate and reflect the laser.

The liquid resin hardens to a solid, producing one layer of this item. This process is replicated, and the construct platform increases until the thing finishes.

Pros and Cons of SLA

SLA printers are famous for their ability to make highly detailed and complex designs. Layers are bonded with each other instead of automatically ensured, as is true in FDM that permits for isotropic components with high mechanical power.

The resulting objects may be used for many different professional and operational applications. SLA may also be utilized with an assortment of different resin sorts that can produce objects of distinct aesthetic and physical properties. By way of instance, Formlabs’ Tough Resin may be used for applications where a high level of mechanical and strength resistance is required.

Since SLA produces prints with exceptional accuracy and durability, it comes at a greater average price compared to FDM printers. To get a deeper dip into SLA printing technologies, check out The Ultimate Guide into Stereolithography.

FDM Vs SLA 3D Printer Comparison

SLA or FDM: The difference in printing Procedures

FDM technology

When you see a movie about 3D printing, you will probably find an FDM printer. FDM is the most popular technique. It’s a dependable, user-friendly, and inexpensive way of producing layers that stick to each other to make an item. Let us clarify how that operates.

To begin with, the printer should find the ideal details. This can be done with a 3D model file, which includes advice on how an item is “cut” into layers. Cura, Slic3r, and Simplify3D are good examples of cutting tools which may be utilized to make those files. This program”cuts” the item into individual layers and produces a G-code that tells the printer what to do. The FDM 3D printer then understands which layers to make one. The more complicated or smaller the thing, the nicer these layers must be.

The pc file (normally a .STL or.OBJ) provides the 3D printer all of the info it should get started. On the other hand, the layers must naturally be made using substances. With FDM printers, we now predict this substance filament. FDM printers may print a lot of (powerful ) plastic-like materials. This filament is introduced in the kind of a cable. The 3D printer gets the substance, which makes it semi-liquid. The substance is then extruded through the nozzle as it goes back and forth. The following layer is placed on the prior coating until the 3D thing is complete.

SLA technology

SLA is the abbreviation for Stereolithography Equipment or merely Stereolithography. Much like FDM, SLA is additive manufacturing: versions are constructed layer by layer. Rather than using plastic filament, Stereolithography employs a liquid resin substance. When subjected to the perfect sort of lighting, the resin permanently transitioned into a new form.

The process starts with the resin option plus a light source, which may be carefully targeted in the reduced resin coating. The SLA printer utilizes a 3D file with directions for targeting that light source.

The printer usually includes a foundation for the 3D thing to construct on. The base goes throughout the tank (the photopolymer box) using liquid since the item is constructed layer by layer. Each coating is then hardened into a good coating. The printing bed then climbs slightly to permit another coating to harden, causing it to rise in depth slowly.

But, there’s a gap in layers in SLA or FDM. SLA permits you to publish a version with exceptionally fine details. The layers are significantly less than one hundred microns lean and shape speedily. Rather than fusing FDM cables, these layers connect. In this manner, the thing gets one uniform substance. The print is finished; it undergoes a chemical bath to remove the excess resin and is then put in a UV mild to harden.

The drawback is that SLA 3d printers normally have smaller construction plates compared to FDM printers. Therefore no bigger objects could be made. Additionally, fewer different substances may be utilized. SLA printers must be handled with caution since the resin used to create your hi-def prints is toxic and isn’t suggested for inexperienced users.

Printing Quality and Precision

The process where layers are shaped impacts the surface quality, accuracy, and the truth of every coating, and consequently, the overall printing quality.

FDM 3D printers shape layers by depositing lines of molten material. During this process, this component’s resolution is characterized by the extrusion nozzle; also, you will find voids between the curved lines as the nozzle residue them. Thus, layers might not completely adhere to one another, layers are usually clearly observable on the surface, and the process cannot reproduce complicated details that other technologies can provide.

In SLA 3D printing, liquid resin is treated with a highly-precise laser to make each coating, which may attain far finer particulars and is much more dependable to achieve high-quality outcomes. Because of this, SLA 3D printing is well known for its excellent features, a smooth surface end, supreme part accuracy, and precision.

Using light rather than heat for printing is just another manner SLA printers ensure reliability. From 3D printing components at near room temperature, they do not have problems with thermal expansion and contraction artifacts that may occur throughout the FDM printing process.

Even though FDM printers produce a mechanical bond between layers, SLA 3D printers produce chemical bonds with cross-linking photopolymers throughout layers, leading to fully dense components, which are water and rancid. These bonds provide high rates of lateral power, leading to isotropic components, which means that these parts’ potency doesn’t change with orientation. This makes SLA 3D printing particularly perfect for manufacturing and engineering programs in which material properties issue.

Materials, material prices, and colors

When we compare SLA or FDM, we also must consider the substances and especially the prices. FDM technology has become the most popular method, and so many distinct substances are developed. FDM printers can print on many different materials, such as the most well-known ones: ABS, PETG, and PLA. Different filaments like nylon, TPU and PVA, TPU, PEEK, Ultem, and combinations of timber, ceramics, metal, carbon, or fibers may also be processed. There are numerous colors of filament to select from, and they can also be custom made. A normal FDM printer utilizes filaments having a diameter between 1.75 mm and also 2.85 mm.

The substances are distinctive with SLA printing: they can’t be utilized at an SLA printer from a different maker. Each maker designs its resin box, so it will only match on its printer. The selection of material color can be quite restricted from yellowish, black, white, magenta to cyan. There are various sorts of resin accessible, and they’re often quite good at introducing substances, which makes them appropriate for industrial usage. The resin used in SLA printing is also rather costly compared to equivalent quantities you get together with filaments.

Printing Rate

FDM machines may print using thicker layers and usually use a decreased infill, leading to rapid 3D prints. FDM also contains fewer post-processing measures for easy pieces. Based on the project, this usually means that prints are all set to use shortly after they’ve completed. This is great for quick prototyping applications. It enables users to rapidly evaluate success and continue to some other printing or project.

However, FDM’s speed benefit is currently decreasing with the introduction of quicker SLA printing materials like Draft Resin, which prints up to 40% quicker compared to FDM 3D printers. Having a 300-micron layer elevation, Draft Resin is true enough to fulfill prototyping needs while allowing faster design iterations. Models that occupy the complete build volume of an SLA printer may take around 20 hours to publish in regular materials and demand printing instantly. Printing the identical part at 300-micron layers using Draft Resin requires less than half an hour.

FDM and SLA printing rate gets similar when printing at comparable layer peaks. But note that a part printed in 100-micron layers onto an FDM printer appears vastly different in the component printed in 100-micron layers onto an SLA printer due to how the layers are constructed. Reaching similar quality with FDM components will need a lower layer’s elevation – hence 2 to four times more printing or purposeful and time-consuming post-processing to improve surface finish.


After printing in an FDM printer, you want to eliminate supports (if the version has overhangs) and surplus vinyl either with your fingers or a cutting edge instrument. Sanding helps to secure smoother surfaces. More on validates here: 3D Printing Techniques: 3 Easy Steps to Success.

Models printed on an SLA printer like the Type 1+ are coated in sticky resin, which needs to be eliminated in a tub of isopropyl alcohol. That is the reason you get rubber gloves with most SLA printers – to protect your hands in the alcohol and resin. Based on the version, supports might be demanded; eliminating them is as simple as using FDM printers.

3D Printing Expenses

Consumable in FDM printers are nozzles and filament rolls. As previously mentioned, most FDM printers use the same standardized filament rolls, costs for filament are falling in the previous decades. 1 kg of PLA filament can be purchased for $25; technical filaments cost more.

In SLA printers, not just resin has been consumed: In SLA printers, the resin tank needs to be substituted following 2-3 gallons of resin are published. The main reason is that the tank becomes smudged indoors over time; therefore, the light source cannot exactly project the picture in the resin. Based on the manufacturer and version, resin tanks will pay you back about $40 to $80.

Another element that requires replacement from time to time is your build system as it has marred when the user eliminates the printed version; a stage may cost around $100.

The resin can be expensive: 1 liter of resin will put you back $80 to $150.


We often overlook that there’s still some work to be performed to eliminate the object after we’ve finished printing. This ought to be taken into consideration when speaking about the gaps between SLA or FDM 3d printing. Adhesion describes how readily the item can finally be eliminated. With FDM, this can be comparatively straightforward. If it sticks, there’s nothing a nice palette knife can not do.

With SLA printers, it’s precisely the contrary. The item sticks into the foundation like adhesive. It’s thus usually tough to take out the 3D printed version from the mattress. Frequently a great deal of resin stays on the stage, which you need to eliminate with a palette knife. This requires much more effort than an FDM printer so prepare for some tough work there.

Like all technologies, there’s constant innovation, so a range of businesses have produced new suggestions to avoid this accumulation of resin. Carbon3D, for example, utilizes oxygen to maintain the resin onto the surface and protect against hardening.

Read also: Best 3D printers for 2021

Final Verdict

FDM printers and SLA printers have proven popular over several businesses, and their use keeps growing. Though some might choose one technology over the other, many view the advantage of using both alongside each other and profiting from each technology’s potency. By way of instance, a designer in a firm may opt to utilize SLA to find an in-depth look at the last part, whereas an engineer may use FDM to produce a role in a production substance, such as ABS prototype testing.

In case you need to choose one or another – ask yourself whether you want a stronger part published in more ordinary substances or when you want an extremely comprehensive part; that seems fine. Should you need a more powerful, usable component, an FDM printer could be the best way to go, but if you simply need a nice looking, comprehensive component, the SLA printer may be your selection. In any event, 3D printing is a fantastic way to rapidly choose an electronic layout and also make it a biological fact!

Video: How To: 3D Printers For Beginners

Last update on 2023-12-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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