5 Signs a Stereolithography 3D Printer Needs Service

Posted by Matt Zimmerman

AdobeStock_328902507As the original method of additive manufacturing, stereolithography (SLA) is a widely adopted form of 3D printing. This resin-based printing process has experienced more than three decades of technological innovations and advancements. While machines have become much more efficient; materials have become much less costly, and software has enhanced the design/manufacturing experience, these printers will still need routine maintenance and care to ensure commercial-grade quality and accuracy. 

For an industrial manufacturing firm, an optimally running machine is critical to maintaining profitability, maximizing throughput, and minimizing downtime. Regular maintenance, especially during anticipated high-usage periods, will help ensure your 3D printer keeps operating smoothly. 

How often does my SLA printer need to be serviced?

As with any piece of capital equipment, it’s best to consult with your maintenance partner to determine the recommended maintenance schedule for your particular printer. Having a trusted maintenance partner for your industrial 3D printer will prove valuable as you scale your business and look to take on larger, longer, and more complex projects. 

What are key signs that my SLA printer needs service?

Properly servicing your SLA printer throughout its life is the best way to achieve consistency print after print. While maintenance needs vary depending on the machine, how it’s used, the materials involved, and other factors, there are a number of common signs that indicate it’s time for service. Here are five key warning signs:

1. Consistently Poor Surface Finish or Accuracy 

One surefire sign your printer needs service is consistently inaccurate parts, poor topology, or any other defects in the accuracy of the parts it produces. Examples include things like rough surface finish and dimensions or features that are not printed to specifications. 

2. Inconsistent Material Composition

If you plan to run several different materials through your commercial SLA 3D printer, it is crucial to be wary of any part or material inconsistencies to catch problems before they happen. Most OEMs recommend that you recalibrate between each material swap to accurately adjust your print settings and ensure part consistency. 

3. Heavy Usage

When you’re using multiple types of materials and running a variety of high mix, low volume jobs, consider having your SLA printer calibrated and cleaned. This is a great preventive maintenance practice. 

4. Inaccuracies in Calibration

Inaccuracies in part manufacturing can be a sign that your 3D printer’s optics or servo motors need attention. If troubles with part calibration or orientation persist, there are several possible reasons for part failure.

5. Noisy Operation

Servo motors, ball screws, lead screws, and other automation components have come a long way since the debut of 3D printing. If your printer is making unusual noises while the platform is moving, these components could be wearing out prematurely. 

With widespread adoption of 3D printing, reliable printer service is essential. When it comes time to service your SLA printer, it’s important to choose a partner who has extensive experience with additive manufacturing equipment and specific knowledge of stereolithography. 

RP America has been servicing resin 3D printers for well over a decade. In addition to providing service for a wide range of SLA and LCD 3D printers, RP America is a licensed distributor for Photocentric, XYZ Printing, RAPLAS, and several other commercial-grade OEMs. Check out our blog for more printing tips, or visit our website for more information about our service offerings. 

Topics: Stereolithography, Maintenance