SLA vs DLP: What is SLA and DLP in 3D Printing Technology

With the development of 3D printing technology, there are more and more new technologies and materials that can be applied, and the scope of application is getting wider and wider. 3D printing technology is not so unattainable and has penetrated into people's daily life. Desktop 3D printers have so many fans, and enthusiasts are creating endless possibilities.

3D printing technologies include SLS (selective laser sintering molding), SLM (selective laser melting molding), FDM(fused deposition molding), SLA (stereo lithography), DLP (digital light processing) and LCD (selective area light curing technology). Among them, the ones that are generally closer to people’s daily life are FDM, SLA, DLP, etc. For the desktop 3D printers, FDM printer and resin printer are the two most common types. What is FDM 3D printing is a concept that we are relatively familiar with. What are DLP and LCD-based SLA 3D printing? What are their features and differences? The following is a detailed description of DLP and SLA technologies.


Model Printed by Anycubic DLP Printer

What is DLP 3D Printing? DLP Light Curing Technology

DLP Technology: How Does DLP 3D Printer Work?

DLP is the abbreviation of "Digital Light Procession". In other words, the digital processing of image signals and then projection of light is a technology that enables the display of visual digital information through a digital micromirror component, DMD, developed by Texas Instruments, Inc. The basic principle of DLP 3D printing technology is that the digital light source is projected on the appearance of liquid photosensitive resin with surface light, and the layers are solidified.

It can be said that DLP technology is the development and growth of three-dimensional photochemical molding technology (SLA) printing technology. The speed of DLP printing is greatly enhanced, and DLP can make more precise parts, such as jewelry, dental molds, etc. DLP printing technology cannot print larger models than other large 3D printers, so most of them are desktop-level 3D printers, which are more used in medical, jewelry, education, etc.

concept-of-dlp-printingPhoto source:Wevolver

DLP 3D Printing: Pros and Cons of DLP Printer


  • Very textured visual effects and fast production
  • Can meet various performance requirements
  • Very accurate, clean appearance, basically no need for post-processing except for support
  • Sharp texture and outstanding details

DLP has unique advantages compared to other types of 3D printing technologies. As a type of resin printer, DLP 3D printer dose not require extrusion of material with nozzles, no material clogging and cleaning problems of FDM printers; there is no heating parts, which improves the safety of the printing process. Compared to other types of resin printers, DLP 3D printer does not require a moving beam and has low vibration deviation; short print preparation times saves energy and adding much less consumables for the first time than other devices, thus reducing user cost.


  • DLP printer is expensive
  • Screen life of 20,000 hours, but the replacement cost is also expensive
  • Small size

The DLP printer is limited by its size, the size of the printer and the size of the model that can be printed are relatively small. For example, the build volume of a typical DLP 3D printer is 131*73*165mm, of a typical SLA 3D printer is 164*102*180mm. In addition to normal size, there are large size SLA printers like Anycubic Photon M3 Max, the printing size can reach 298*164*300mm, DLP printer is still limited by their previous size.


What is SLA 3D Printing? Stereolithography and Selective Area Light Curing Technology

Principle of SLA Technology: How Does LCD-based SLA Printer Work?

SLA is another common technique in 3D printing technology. It is used to change the photosensitive resin from liquid to solid by the light curing. Traditional SLA technology uses a laser beam to complete the light curing, but the time required to move the laser beam greatly limits the printing speed of SLA printers. Later on, based on SLA and DLP technology, MSLA technology was born, which has become popular in recent years, the accuracy can be comparable to DLP. What we often call LCD-based SLA printers have also become the most popular consumer-grade desktop SLA printers.


Photo source: LAVA

LCD-based SLA 3D printers use the principle of LCD imaging, in the computer and display circuit driven computer program to provide image signals, LCD screen selective transparent area appears. UV light cures through the transparent area exposing the photosensitive resin consumables in the resin tank. After the curing time of each layer, the platform pallet lifts the cured part, the resin liquid replenishes back, the platform drops again, and the model and the resulting layer-by-layer curing rises and is printed as a delicate three-dimensional model.


SLA 3D Printing: Pros and Cons of LCD-based SLA Printer

Pros: LCD-based SLA 3D printer accuracy up to 0.025mm, layer pattern over FDM, the accuracy is similar to DLP printing technology, and can even obtain part of the SLA device printing accuracy. It is formed by ultraviolet light, forming a volume of one surface at a time, and printing much faster than FDM in large areas. The price of LCD-based SLA printer is 10 times lower than DLP printer, easy maintenance and low cost.

Cons: The printing platform is limited and cannot print all high-capacity models. SLA print molding is printed with resin consumables, and there are resin consumable residues attached to the appearance of the model after printing, which requires post-treatment of the model and needs to be cleaned with 90% concentration of ethanol. The resins used for SLA printing are the chemical substances. They have a variety of unpleasant odors, contain trace toxicity, and need to be applied in specific environments.

Should I get a SLA or DLP Printer? Best Resin Printer 2022

How to choose a printer that suits you, after learning more about SLA and DLP, maybe you already have a preference in your mind, choose a small and exquisite DLP printer, or choose an SLA printer that brings you more curiosity and creativity.

Anycubic Photon D2 makes big progress with the second generation DLP technology, can achieve ultra-high-precision printing, and the DLP projector has a service life of 20,000 hours. There is no need to replace the screen every 2,000 hours like LCD printers, which can save a lot of maintenance costs. The printing size is 131*73*165mm (1.58L), which meets the manufacture of most delicate models and makes it stand out in the DLP competition market. The reasons for choosing Anycubic Photon D2 are also the good printing experience it strives to achieve, the extremely high printing quality provided by the printer, and the positive feedback from users all the time. Its price also reflects the high cost performance, click to view the latest offers.


If you prefer 3D printing with a larger size, there are many mature and user-friendly SLA 3D printers on the market, such as the best entry-level desktop resin printers: Anycubic Photon Mono X2, the best choice for resin printers priced around $400. Anycubic Photon M3 Premium is also very recommended, for the pursuit of more powerful printer. Upgrades include a new 8K LCD panel and the new Anycubic LighTurbo 2.0 UV system, which can provide extremely high printing accuracy, the details of the model are absolutely amazing.

The emergence of desktop-grade DLP 3D printers has brought 3D printing to the general public, making more people aware of, and applying, 3D printing technology. At the same time, the new manufacturing industry is playing a revolutionary role in industrial development, signifying that more and more drawbacks of traditional manufacturing are being remedied. Different 3D printing technologies are playing an irreplaceable role in various fields and making great contributions to society.

How to 3D Print: 7 Steps to Start Printing with FDM Printer

FDM 3D Printing: 6 Methods for Post Processing