SLA VS SLS: Differences

If you’re interested in 3D printing, you’ve likely heard of stereolithography (SLA) and selective laser sintering (SLS). These two technologies are popular choices for creating custom parts, but they have distinct differences in how they work, strengths, and environmental impact. In this post, we’ll break down the basics of SLA vs SLS, so you can better understand which technology might be right for your needs.

How SLA and SLS Work:

SLA and SLS are both additive manufacturing technologies that use a layer-by-layer process to build parts. However, they use different materials and methods to achieve this.

SLA uses a liquid photopolymer resin that is cured by a UV laser. The printer contains a vat of liquid resin, and the laser is used to selectively cure the resin, layer by layer, until the final part is complete. The process results in high-resolution, smooth parts with fine details and excellent surface finish.

On the other hand, SLS uses a powdered material, typically nylon, which is fused together by a laser. The powder is spread in a thin layer on a build platform, and the laser selectively melts the powder to create the desired shape, layer by layer. SLS is ideal for producing parts with complex geometries, and it does not require support structures like SLA.

Why Should You Choose SLS and SLA for Prototyping Project?

Both SLA and SLS have their strengthsd if you choose them below:

Advantages of SLA:

SLA Rapid Prototyping

● High resolution and accuracy: SLA can produce parts with intricate details and precise tolerances.
● Smooth surface finish: SLA parts typically have a smooth surface finish with minimal visible layer lines.
● Wide range of materials: SLA can use a variety of materials, including plastics, resins, and even metals.
● Low post-processing requirements: SLA parts require minimal post-processing, as they are already relatively smooth and accurate.

Advantages of SLS:

SLS Rapid Prototyping● Wide range of materials: SLS can use a variety of materials, including plastics, metals, and even ceramics.
● No support structures needed: SLS parts are self-supporting during printing, which means that complex geometries can be created without the need for support structures.
● Durable parts: SLS parts are typically strong and durable, with good mechanical properties.
● Larger build volumes: SLS printers can create larger parts than SLA printers.

Cost Comparison of SLA and SLS Rapid Prototyping

When choosing between SLA and SLS printing technologies, one important factor to consider is the cost. While both technologies have their advantages and disadvantages, the cost of ownership and operation can vary significantly between the two. In this section, we will compare the costs of SLA and SLS printers, as well as the materials and other factors that affect overall cost.


1). SLA printers are typically more expensive to purchase than SLS printers, with prices ranging from a few thousand dollars to tens of thousands of dollars for industrial-grade machines.
2). The cost of resin for SLA printing can also be relatively high, with prices ranging from $50 to $200 per liter depending on the type and quality of the resin.
3). Post-processing techniques such as curing and sanding may also add to the cost of SLA printing, as they require additional time and materials.


1). SLS printers are generally less expensive to purchase than SLA printers, with prices ranging from a few thousand dollars to around $20,000 for industrial-grade machines.
2). The cost of powder for SLS printing can also be relatively low, with prices ranging from $20 to $100 per kilogram depending on the type and quality of the powder.
3). However, SLS printing may require additional post-processing techniques such as sanding and polishing to achieve a smooth surface finish, which can add to the overall cost.



● The cost of materials is an important consideration for both SLA and SLS printing. While resin for SLA printing can be relatively expensive, it can also offer a wider range of materials and properties, including flexible, tough, and heat-resistant resins.

● Powder for SLS printing is generally less expensive than resin, but may be more limited in terms of available materials and properties.

Other factors:

● The overall cost of SLA and SLS printing may also depend on other factors such as the size and complexity of the part, as well as the level of detail and precision required.
● Labor costs for post-processing and finishing may also affect the overall cost of printing, as well as any additional equipment or software needed.


What Are Applications of SLA and SLS in Different Industries?

SLA and SLS are used in a wide range of industries, from aerospace and automotive to medical and consumer products.

SLA is often used for applications that require high accuracy and surface finish, such as jewelry, dental models, and prototyping. It can also be used for creating master patterns for investment casting.

SLS, on the other hand, is ideal for creating complex parts with high strength and durability, such as functional prototypes, jigs, and fixtures, and end-use parts. It is also used for producing aerospace and automotive parts, where high strength and lightweight properties are critical.

Comparing Results:

When it comes to the end result, SLA and SLS produce parts with different properties.

SLA produces parts with a high level of accuracy and fine detail. The surface finish is smooth, and the parts have good dimensional stability. However, the parts can be brittle and may not have the same mechanical strength as SLS parts.

SLS produces parts with good mechanical strength and durability. The surface finish is not as smooth as SLA, but it can be improved with post-processing. The parts can also be porous, depending on the material used.

Environmental Impact:

Both SLA and SLS have an impact on the environment, and it is important to consider their sustainability.

SLA produces liquid waste that must be disposed of carefully. The photopolymer resin used in SLA is not biodegradable, and the curing process can consume a lot of energy.

SLS produces powder waste, which can be recycled but also requires careful handling. The materials used in SLS are often not biodegradable and require a lot of energy to manufacture.

Beska’s SLS and SLA Rapid Prototyping Services

Are you looking for high-quality rapid prototyping service provider? The Beska team is willing to supoort you by custom SLS and SLA rapid prototyping services. If you are not sure about how to choose the best printing technology or material, the Beska team gets professional engineers to support you. Contact us here for more details!

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