Stereolithography or SLA for short is a type of 3D printing process that is used for creating highly detailed objects from a 3D model. SLA printers use a tray of resin that is cured using a very precise laser. The SLA printer begins printing the object at the bottom and works its way up to the top, printing the object layer-by-layer until the object is complete. The precision of the laser allows for very detailed objects to be created with the layer-by-layer approach creating a less noticeable stair-case effect on the final printed object when compared to other printer types such as Fused Deposition Modeling (FDM).

With SLA printing it can take more time to print the object compared to other 3D printing processes like FDM, however the quality and smoothness of the finished article is far greater than what can be achieved using the FDM process. One downside to SLA is that printed objects do not have the strength of objects printed using the FDM or Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) methods and also the build volumes of SLA printers tends to be far less than FDM printers.

3D Slicer Software

Before we get to what the slicer software does, it's important to check if you have a 3D model file that is in a format compatible with the 3D printing slicer software. STL and 3MF formats are usually supported; if the 3D model is not in either of these formats, our STL converters can convert the file to the required format.

Slicer software, as its name suggests, will take the 3D model file and slice it into layers based on the configured settings of the slicer software. With the file loaded into the slicer software, it is ready to be sent to the 3D printer. In order for a 3D printer to be able to print the object, it needs low-level instructions from the slicer software to tell it where to move the print head, when to feed the plastic, the speed to move the head, and more. This information is usually stored in a GCODE file. This is the main purpose of the slicer software: to take the 3D model saved as a standard file format, such as STL, and convert it to this sequence of instructions in a GCODE for the 3D printer to act upon.

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