What is MSLA Printing? Pros and Cons

What is MSLA Printing? Pros and Cons

MSLA is the abbreviation of Masked Stereo Lithography Apparatus. It is a 3D printing machine that is an advanced form of Stereolithography Apparatus (SLA) in which resins are cured when exposed to ultraviolet lights. The MSLA printers carry out the 3D printing employing a huge UV light source and mask it with an LED screen, whereas the SLA printers trace the shape of each layer with the help of a UV laser. MSLA printing is used for various purposes as they can produce good quality products in large quantities in a short period. This article is a complete guide for you to understand what MSLA 3D printing is and difference between MSLA and SLA printing techniques.

What is MSLA Printing? Pros and Cons

What is MSLA Printing?

MSLA printing is a 3D printing technique that uses successive layers of cured photosensitive resins for three-dimensional objects. This technique is used to mass produce quality products at a relatively low price precisely and quickly compared to other 3D printing techniques. However, due to the high cost of capital, MSLA printers are only used by selective people. MSLA printers are also capable of creating large and intricate products. High-volume printers can be used for small-batch production runs and prototyping. One example of an MSLA printer is the Peopoly Phenom L 3D printer.

How Does it Work?

In MSLA printing, a photosensitive resin is placed over LCD and LED arrangement split by a fine layer of Fluorinated Ethylene Propylene (FEP) plastic. The LCD is primarily used to control the exposure of the light on the resin placed above. The LCD is made up of pixels that determine the shape of the layer. These pixels control the passage when turned on and off accordingly. The contrasting patterns of pixels enable the printing process. It creates a layer in 3–8 seconds and then moves to the next layer.

Why to Choose MSLA Printing?

You can pick MSLA for the following reasons:

  • You can easily afford printers and resins.
  • It gives a smooth surface finish.
  • It can print complex structures.
  • It has an array of materials like flexible, transparent, ceramic, impact resistance, and much more.
  • It provides a commendable print resolution.
  • MSLA printers allow batch printing in a short time.

MSLA Printing in Jewelry Designing

MSLA printing has turned out to be a major boon for the jewelry industry as the wax resins that burn out cleanly during casting. The otherwise used low-wax casting methods that jewelers using had to go through a tough time to cut the hard way in complex designs. Here with MSLA, these designs can be printed easily and accurately. The only thing required is the CAD file of the jewelry beforehand.

MSLA Printing in the Medical Field

MSLA 3D printing in the medical field is used for the process of bioengineering tissues. This process is called bioprinting. It involves creating models with living cells. It can be used for bone and teeth implants, artificial vascular supports, and organ scaffolds.

Materials Used in MSLA Printing

The material used in MSLA 3D printing is unique photopolymer resins that get cured under intense UV light. The most commonly used resins for 3D printing are acrylate or epoxy based. Let’s have a look at all the types of resins:

  • Durable Resin: It is a pliable and strong material with mechanisms similar to polypropylene (PP). It comes in use for prototyping products like snap fits and ball joints.
  • Tough Resin: These were made to tolerate high pressure for a short period. These resins are very stiff and are often compared to ABS thermoplastic.
  • Standard Resin: These resins are used for prints that require high resolution and sharpness.
  • Clear Resin: Clear resins are similar to standard resins with some more mechanical properties. These resins can be made fully transparent with some post-processing.

Pros and Cons of MSLA Printing

Let’s dig into the pros and cons of MSLA 3D printing.

The following are the pros of MSLA printing:

  • MSLA printers cure a layer all at once without taking into consideration the thickness of the layer.
  • The print bed of the MSLA printer moves on the Z axis, unlike SLA printers that do not incorporate moving parts in the machine.
  • It consists of mono-chromatic LCD lights that display greyscale along the edges. As a result, you get smoothly printed surfaces.
  • It provides high print resolution.

The following are the cons of MSLA printing:

  • These printing machines are not affordable.
  • It requires a warm ambience with temperatures maintained from 20 to 30 degrees Celsius.
  • MSLA printing is carried out in a dim light or dark environment, resulting in frequent damage and pre-mature curing of the delicate resins.
  • The post-printing procedure is complex and hazardous to health. Uncured resins and newly printed products require the users to handle while wearing gloves.
  • The printed material is supposed to be washed in an alcohol solution and then placed under extreme UV light for 10–15 minutes to be cured completely.

Also Read: 26 Best 3D Modeling Software

3D Printing Basics

Now that you have understood what MSLA printing is, we are here to give a brief description of 3D printing basics.

What is 3D Printing?

3D printing is known as part of additive manufacturing. Additive manufacturing is the term used to describe the technique of printing where a part is obtained by adding material. For 3D printing, a Computer-Aided Design (CAD) is used by the printer to make three-dimensional products. Plenty of 3D technologies and an array of materials are available to carry out a 3D printing process.

How to Print in 3D?

3D printing is an easy and computerized procedure. You can read the steps mentioned below to have a clear understanding of 3d printing basics.

1. Create a CAD file using software like Autodesk Fusion, Onshape, and many others.

OnShape

2. Export the CAD file in the universal input file type of a 3D printer, an STL file.

3. Upload the STL file in the slicing software of the printer.

4. Make the required orientation changes, material selection, and print settings. The software will automatically start slicing the file in layers.

5. Press the print button, and the printing procedure will begin with the layers one after another.

Also Read: 30 Best Beginner CAD Software

3D Printing for Beginners

Some 3D printing basics that beginners must know are the details about the printing mechanism. A 3D printer operates basically on three axes, that is:

  • X-axis: Left to right movement
  • Y-axis: Front to back movement
  • Z-axis: Upward and downward movement

An extruder is equipped on the X-axis, providing material to the print bed.

Types of 3D Printers

The most common types of printers used in 3D printing based on different technologies are:

1. Extrusion

Based on this technology, there are two types of printers:

  • Fusion Filament Fabrication (FFF)
  • Continuous Fiber Reinforcement (CFR)
  • Atomic Diffusion Additive Manufacturing (ADAM)

2. Laser Fusion

Based on laser fusion technology, there are a few types of printers. It uses high-powered lasers to fuse powdered media. The following are the types of printers:

  • Selective Laser Sintering (SLS)
  • Selective Laser Melting (SLM)
  • Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)

3. Light Curing

This technology uses light curing to create layers. The following are the types of printers using light curing technologies:

  • Stereolithography (SLA)
  • Direct Light Processing (DLP)

4. Power Adhesion

It is one rapidly growing 3D printing technology. Both plastic and metal are used in this printing method. The only printer under this technology is Binder jetting.

Also Read: 20 Best Free 2D Animation Software in Windows 10

Difference Between MSLA and SLA Printing

As we have already read, MSLA is the advanced version of SLA 3D printing. While they somewhat function in the same way. They still have differences that we have listed below.

MSLA Printing SLA Printing
MSLA printing depends only on the printing number of layers. SLA printing depends on the number of layers as well as the amount of material in each layer.
It has a speed advantage on each layer. It does not have a speed advantage on each layer.
The printing resolution is based on the resolution of the LCD screen. The printing resolution is based on the diameter of the laser beam.
MSLA uses UV light to cure the resin. SLA uses a mirror and a laser to cure the resin.
Printing speed is faster. Printing speed is slower.
Print resolution is relatively low. Print resolution is high.
Example: Sonic Mini 4k Example: XYZPrinting Nobel 1.0 A

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Q1. How much do MSLA printers and resin cost?

Ans. MSLA printers vary in cost, size, and weight according to their functions. These printers range from $200 to $1100. Resins cost from $25–40 per kilogram to $40–150 per kilogram. Other additional yet necessary equipment can cost up to $200-400.

Q2. What is the additional equipment required with a resin printer?

Ans. These are the necessary equipment required with the resin printer and post-printing process:

  • STLs and slicing software
  • Ultrasonic cleaner
  • Nitrile gloves
  • Respirator
  • UV lamp
  • Metal funnel

Recommended:

The above-mentioned was a guide on MSLA 3D printing and 3D printing basics. Reading this might have cleared all your doubts regarding difference between MSLA and SLA printing techniques. We hope this guide helped you understand how MSLA printing works. Please share your queries or suggestions in the comment section below. Also, let us know what you want to learn next.

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Elon Decker

Elon is a tech writer at TechCult. He's been writing how-to guides for about 6 years now and has covered many topics. He loves to cover topics related to Windows, Android, and the latest tricks and tips.

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