Skip to navigation

What is Digital Light Processing (DLP)?

What is Digital Light Processing (DLP)?

What is Digital Light Processing (DLP)?

DLP (Digital Light Processing) is a 3D printing technology used to rapidly produce photopolymer parts. It’s very similar to SLA with one significant difference -- where SLA machines use a laser that traces a layer, a DLP machine uses a projected light source to cure the entire layer at once. The part is formed layer by layer.

DLP printing can be used to print extremely intricate resin design items like toys, jewelry molds, dental molds, figurines and other items with fine details. Due to it curing the entire layer at once, it’s much faster than SLA

DLP Printing Advantages and Disadvantages

DLP printers are popular for their ability to quickly produce objects and parts with intricate designs with a high degree of accuracy. They are relatively affordable, so they are often found in offices. Limitations of DLP printing include strong odors produced by melting photopolymers in the printing process, and the risk of warping in larger items.

History of DLP Printing

Although the first description of a 3D printer was published in 1964 by the sci-fi author, Arthur C. Clarke, it wasn’t until 1987 that the stereolithography, or SLA, process was developed. DLP printing followed soon after, and is frequently compared to SLA printing. Direct Light Processing was originally developed in 1987.

DLP (Digital Light Processing) Advantages and Disadvantages

DLP is popular because of high print speeds, though accuracy is sacrificed in the process. It is limited to photopolymers that often emit odors that can be problematic in an office environment.


What is the difference between DLP vs SLA? Both are 3D printing processes that work with photopolymers, but DLP uses a more conventional light source, such as an arc lamp, rather than a UV light as in SLA. DLP cures an entire layer at once; SLA printers trace out a path with the laser, curing along that path.

How is DLP cheaper than other methods of 3D printing? DLP uses a shallow vat of resin, and uses everything within the vat for each printing. This can result in lower costs and less waste.

How do DLP printers compare to other 3D printers? Since DLP printers house a projector to project an image to be formed, they tend to be larger than other 3D printers.

What kinds of materials can be used in DLP printing? Usually, DLP uses photopolymers to create objects, but some companies make DLP printers that can use other materials, like rubber and thermoplastics.
Can DLP printers be used to print large, intricate pieces?
Because the size of the object printed is dependent upon a projector and resolution of the image it projects, DLP printing is not suitable for very large items.