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Differentiating Between DLP & SLA 3D Printers For Dental Offices

Published on: Nov 17, 2023
 By: Brought to you by Benco Dental
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Thanks to technology advancements in 3D printers, replicas of patients’ mouths can now be printed into practical and highly accurate models. This makes the formulation of dental solutions more convenient for both the dentist and the patient.

There are two main types of printers available in the market: DLP and SLA printers. Both printers meet very high standards when it comes to precision, and are regarded by professionals as up to the job of creating. They both count on the use of light, mostly in the ultraviolet (UV) part of the spectrum for curing a photosensitive viscous resin.

DLP and SLA 3D Printers

Both printers share the same mode of operation. As a result, it produces resins that are very similar.

1. Digital light printer (DLP)

This is currently the fastest technology available for 3D printing. This technology came about in the late 1980s and makes use of a conventional light source similar to an arc lamp with a liquid crystal display (LCD) panel. In this process, DLP projects each layer making an illuminated pane in which photopolymerization takes place.

2. Stereolithography (SLA) printer 

This type of printer addresses one layer at a time. It is a type of printing form that traces its origins to the early 1980s. By directing the laser through the resin, a layer of the print is created according to the design needs.

Distinguishing Between The Types Of 3D Printers In Dentistry

Digital Light Processing (DLP) and Stereolithography (SLA) are two popular types of 3D printers, each with distinct features and working principles. One key difference lies in their light sources. In a DLP printer, a digital projector shines light onto a liquid resin surface, curing entire layers at once. This allows for faster printing speeds compared to SLA printers, which use a laser to trace and solidify each layer point by point. DLP’s speed advantage makes it suitable for larger prints and rapid prototyping.

Another notable difference is the layer resolution and surface smoothness. Because of their laser’s pinpoint accuracy, SLA printers often offer higher precision and smoother surface quality. As a result, SLA is great for complicated, detailed things requiring precision, such as jewelry or dental models. DLP printers, on the other hand, provide good resolution but may not equal SLA’s level of detail. They do, however, generate high-quality prints appropriate for a variety of applications such as figurines or functional prototypes.

Finally, material selection is an important issue to consider. SLA printers typically have a greater selection of suitable resins, including specialist materials for specific applications, such as biocompatible resins for medical applications. DLP printers also provide a choice of materials, but the selection may be limited. The choice between DLP and SLA should depend on your project’s requirements, balancing factors like speed, precision, and material options.

Summary of Differences

  • Light source: SLA makes use of a UV laser, while DLP utilizes light from a projector. With DLP, the operator is able to control the intensity of the UV light source, managing the effect on the resin. In SLA, the laser beam’s intensity is fixed, so you have to change the light completely for a different effect on the resin.

  • DLP uses a more inexpensive light source than SLA, which utilizes laser lights.

  • SLA is more fit to print parts with intricate details, while DLP prints large parts at a faster rate with less detail.

All in all, the most important thing is that you choose a printer that will best suit your lab. Contact an equipment specialist at Benco Dental for state-of-the-art printers at the most reasonable prices.


Excerpted from the Daily Floss.

BENCO DENTAL IS THE LEADER in cutting-edge dental practice theory, consulting, systems and design. They drive dentistry forward through their innovative solutions and caring family culture. The company is also the country’s largest independent distributor of technology, equipment and supplies with 1,400 associates across the U.S.

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