Digital Light Processing (DLP) 3D Printing: Everything You Need To Know

    3D PrintersDigital Light Processing (DLP) 3D Printing: Everything You Need To Know


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    • A DLP printer is generally pretty fast because it can cure an entire layer in one go
    • However, they do require tuning; tend to be pretty big, so not great for 3D printing in cramped spaces
    • The lasers are accurate but relatively small and low powered (Source)
    • In summary- they’re great for intricate designs (over FDM and SLS 3D printing) and fast printing with lower running costs than SLA
    • Downsides- sun exposure can degrade the parts, and the parts have inferior mechanical properties, cracking or breaking relatively easily
    • The resin is pricier than filaments

    The industrial sector is being reshaped by 3D printers. 3D printing is an additive manufacturing method, which means it uses precise material addition to reduce losses associated with subtractive manufacturing processes like milling, turning, and cutting.

    Their primary role is to translate CAD data to actual components, which each 3D technique accomplishes differently.

    This article will discuss 3D printing using digital light processing (DLP), a technique related to stereolithography (SLA)- check out the most popular types of 3D printing.

    What is 3D Printing Using Digital Light Processing?

    DLP technology was created by Texas Instruments soon after the debut of SLA technology in 1987. Texas Instruments pioneered the digital processing aspect, which is at the heart of this kind of 3D printing, and the printer has since evolved.

    DLP 3D printing is a polymerization process that uses a VAT. Instead of the thermoplastics used in fused deposition modeling, Digital Light Processing fabricates objects using liquid thermosetting resins (FDM).

    The technique involves exposing a vat of liquid resin to bright light from a projector, which cures the resin layer by layer on a building platform.

    The Digital Light Processing technique projects and cures a whole layer of a 3D object at the same time. DLP may print components inverted (called “bottom-up”) or upright (called “right-side-up”).

    Because of their enhanced build capacity, bottom-up Digital Light Processing designs are often employed in desktop printers, whilst top-down designs are reserved for bigger industrial applications.

    Yet, despite their reversed topologies, both utilize the Digital Light Processing process.

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    3D printing equipment completes the Digital Light Processing process. These printers work with STL files, which are CAD files that can be broken into layers and printed using “slicing” software.

    The printer’s construction platform is immersed in a vat of liquid resin, and each layer is projected onto it using a digital light source.

    The resin cures onto the platform as a solid slice of the component is exposed to light. Layers are layered one on top of the other until the component is finished and withdrawn from the development platform for post-processing.

    What Are the Benefits & Drawbacks

    Due to their higher accuracy and resolution, DLP printers are popular.

    Because of the mechanical qualities of resin components, this method of 3D printing is ideal for constructing strange, organic structures that would ordinarily be impossible for other printers to produce.

    However, due to their mechanical properties, resin components are seldom employed for functioning prototypes.

    In general, DLP printers are a good alternative to SLA printers and, in certain cases, outperform them. However, since the technique has limits, this section will analyze the benefits and drawbacks of using Digital Light Processing vs. alternative 3D printer technologies.


    • When compared to other kinds of printers, these printers are exceptionally precise and provide excellent surface finishes. Their surfaces are visually attractive and may be polished to a high shine.
    • Despite their similarities, due to uniform layer projection, digital light processing prints are quicker than SLA prints.
    • Superior materials, such as clear and castable resins, distinguish this 3D printing method from its competitors.
    • Bottom-up computer workstations printers are inexpensive and simple to operate.
    • DLP components are isotropic, which means that their strength is the same in all X, Y, and Z directions, while FDM components are not. Furthermore, these components are completely waterproof and usually unresponsive to stimuli other than light.
    • Sintered metal components may be created using specialized equipment, which eliminates many of the material’s drawbacks (at an increased cost).


    • Due to their fragility, DLP printers are less capable of making functional prototypes than they are of developing visual prototypes.
    • DLP-printed components are not suitable for outdoor use because sunlight degrades the appearance and mechanical properties of resin components.
    • Compared to other 3D printing technologies, DLP printers offer fewer material options (though this is rapidly changing).
    • DLP printers produce voxelated components that must be sanded and smoothed to achieve the same surface quality as SLA parts straight from the printer, despite being significantly more precise than FDM printers.

    The Types Of 3D Printing

    1. Stereolithography (SLA) 
    2. Selective Laser Sintering (SLS): (check out the best SLS 3D printers)
    3. Digital Light Processing (DLP)
    4. PolyJet 3D printing
    5. Multi Jet Fusion (MJF)
    6. Electron Beam Melting (EBM)
    7. Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS)
    8. Binder Jetting (BJ) Technology
    9. Drop on Demand (DOD)
    10. Fused Deposition Modelling (FDM)

    Summing Up

    As you can see, DLP 3D printing is a fascinating and sophisticated technology that is rapidly evolving. It offers the potential for mass manufacturing because of its speed, accuracy, and material diversity.

    As a result, DLP printing technology and DLP printed components will become more common, as well as employed in a variety of novel applications.


    Rush Chapman
    ( Founder )

    Hello, my name’s Rush Chapman. I’m a 3D printing enthusiast. I started this site to help people choose 3D printing projects and select the best 3D printer for your needs, whether you’re a hobbyist or a pro!