An Introduction to SLA Resins

Formlabs Elastic Resin

SLA 3D printers use a UV laser to cure liquid resin into hardened plastic on the print bed, turning the liquid resin into a solid, three-dimensional model.  

The resin is made from photosensitive monomers and oligomers, combined in short chains, which turn into long chains with post-curing.

There’s an enormous variety of SLA resins available for all kinds of applications, from orthodontic models to complex gaskets and seals.

The pioneer in the desktop stereolithography industry is Formlabs. Formlabs boasts the widest catalogue of proprietary resins and has a refined SLA technology called LFS (Light Force Stereolithography), enhancing quality and reliability.

We covered how to choose a Formlabs resin in another article, but the short of it is that outside Dental, Medical and Jewellery resins, you can use Flexible, Rigid, Engineering and Standard Resins for all prototyping and end-use parts.

SLA materials overview 

There are several manufacturers of SLA resins, including Formlabs (proprietary resin cartridges for the Form 3D printer series) and third-party brands like Liqcreate and Monocure 3D for different 3D printers (not Formlabs).

We specialise in Formlabs because we are a UK partner to them. All the resins listed below are made by Formlabs. 

Here’s a rundown of the most commonly used resins (our list excludes dental resins – you can read our guide to dental resins here).

Draft Resin v2

Prints four times faster than Standard Resin. Suitable for rapid prototyping with faster print speeds than PLA with FFF machines.

Greyscale Resins 

General-purpose resins that mimic the performance of ABS. Available in black, white and grey, suitable for very fine and intricate details.

Clear Resin

A transparent resin with brilliant optical clarity. Mimics clear polycarbonate and glass; ideal for optics and lighting applications.

Grey Pro 

More precise than Greyscale Resins; ideal for mould masters and silicones. Mimics the look and quality of injection moulded parts.

Tough 1500 Resin

Tough 1500 Resin simulates the strength and stiffness of polypropylene (PP). It produces stiff and pliable parts that bend and spring back quickly under cyclic loading.

Tough 2000 Resin 

Tough 2000 Resin simulates the strength and stiffness of ABS. It’s the stiffest material in the Formlabs functional family.

Durable Resin

Durable Resin simulates the strength and stiffness of polyethene (PE). It’s the most pliable and lubricious material in the Formlabs functional family.

Rigid 10K

This glass-filled resin is the stiffest material in Formlabs’ engineering portfolio. Choose Rigid 10K Resin for precise industrial parts.

Rigid 4000

Designed for load-0bearing, this glass-filled resin prints with a smooth, polished finish and is ideal for stiff and strong parts.

Flexible Resin 80A

Flexible Resin 80A is a reformulated version of Flexible Resin V2. It is Formlabs’ stiffest soft-touch material with the feel and appearance of rubber.

Elastic 50A Resin

Elastic 50A Resin is Formlabs’ most elastic soft-touch material with the feel and appearance of silicone. It is perfect for printing consumer-ready products.

High-Temp Resin 

High Temp Resin has a heat deflection temperature of 238 °C @ 0.45 MPa, making it suited to hot air, gas and fluid flow applications.

Rebound Resin 

An interesting elastic material; five times stronger than other elastomeric materials on the market with twice the elongation. Springy and tactile.

Ceramic Resin 

An experimental resin for 3D printing ceramic models. Suitable for complex models that would be impossible to make by hand and machine.

If you enjoyed this article, be sure to read our introduction to FFF/FDM plastics