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What is the difference between MSLA and SLA?

It is already more than 30 years ago since the invention of 3D-printing, and a lot has changes since then. From just one type of large laser based stereolithography printers, now there is a wide variation of different 3D-printing technologies. Find a comparison between MSLA and DLP in the link. The most common resin based 3D-printing technologies are:

  • – SLA
  • – DLP
  • – Jetting
  • – MSLA

There are others resin based technologies that are becoming available, although they are still new and we have to see how much of the market they will gain, these are for instance Xolography from Xolo, BNC3D’s viscous lithography (VLM), Cubicures hot lithography.


What is the difference between MSLA and SLA?

There are quite some distinct differences between MSLA and SLA. To start with some clarification, when we are talking about SLA 3D-printing, we mean the exact definition by the Oxford dictionary:

“a technique or process for creating three-dimensional objects, in which a computer-controlled moving laser beam is used to build up the required structure, layer by layer, from a liquid polymer that hardens on contact with laser light”. Meaning that when we say SLA, we mean the resin 3D-printer that uses lasers to cure the resin.


This already brings us to the first big difference between MSLA and SLA, that an MSLA printer uses an LCD screen for masking and a matrix of LED’s as a light source, while an SLA printer utilizes a laser. SLA printers were the first ones to de developed and for long time they were extremely big printers working with a 355nm laser and epoxy based resins. Nowadays there is a big variety for instance with 405nm desktop SLA printers from Formlabs and others.

difference between MSLA and SLA vs. resin 3D-printing tech technology liqcreate formlabs form jewelry technical engineering dental tough strong flex elastic elastomer

Image by and Formlabs: the three mainstream resin 3D-printing techniques; DLP, MSLA and SLA.

MSLA printers are always working with a resin tray with a transparent window and the light and masking that comes from below. For SLA printers it could be the same principle, or that the laser is fixed on top and the build plate will go down into a big vat of resin.


Desktop MSLA vs. desktop SLA resin 3D-printer.

The easiest comparison to make is to compare a desktop MSLA printer to a desktop SLA printer as they are the most similar. Most desktop SLA printers use a 405nm laser. The accuracy of the printer is mostly determined by the laser spot, that is the minimum feature of the printer. The Formlabs Form3+ SLA has a 85 micron laser spot and it is marketed with an XY accuracy of 25 micron. For mainstream MSLA printers they have a pixel size of between 25 – 75 microns and the smallest MSLA 3D-printers operate in the same accuracy level. On speed, MSLA will win in most cases as a SLA 3D-printer will have to touch every point of the part with its laser, while the MSLA printers will expose the complete build plate / layer at once. This will usually take 1-10 seconds, depending on the resin.


SLA and MSLA compatible resin for 3D-printing

At Liqcreate we are offering a wide range of resins that can work on SLA, MSLA or even DLP 3D-printers in the wavelength of 405, 385nm and even lower on request. Perhaps your MSLA, SLA or DLP printer is already listed with prepared settings in this link. If not, reach out to us at and we can assist.


Do you need any help with 3D printing our SLA, DLP or LCD resins? We can help you! Just look for the question you have below. If you can’t find it, let us know by contacting us!

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