SLA/3D Printing, for museum use, question


I’m researching SLA/3D printing output qualities for a hands on traveling exhibit and I was hoping folks could help with some advice.

The team that I’m on is thinking of having touchable 3D replicas of artifacts and city layouts of/from archaeological sites. We are wondering if SLA/3D printing processes can make suitable items.

The important criteria (at the moment) are:
-Durability (100’s of thousands of people will handle the items)
-Detail (surface detail, finish & color/paint-ability)
-Easy of cleaning or dirt repelling ability
-Comparative Cost

I’ll inquire at SLA/3D printing equipment manufactures but wanted to get feedback from real world (end) users. Also we don’t plan on buying equip, so primarily interested in the ‘end product’ qualities.

With that said any recommendations to companies that produce SLA/3D parts would also be appreciated (we’re located in the northeast US). Obviously they would be good to ask and If we go in this direction we will need a production shop to produce the items.

Thank you for any advice and expertise you can offer.


I would probably go for Fuse Deposition Modeling (FDM) which produces actual plastic parts.

SLA will likely work but isn’t quite as durable…although the materials are getting better and better all the time.

Thanks Ip.

Just after posting this I did some online research and ‘updated’ my knowledge with the FDM process. As you suggested, it very much looks like the way to go.

Also sent an email or two to some Rapid p-typing companies for more info, pricing structures and samples.

I Would look at Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) or even Direct Metal Laser Sintering (DMLS).

SLS materials tend to be far more durable than some of the SLA options. The most common SLS material is a Nylon powder (duraform) - this give really good part strength, but as it’s pourous it will get very dirty handled by lots of people.

Depending on what your museum peices are that you wish to replicate there are some other cool materials. The DMLS is an area that is growing rapidly, even Formula 1 rasing teams are having parts made out of these new materials.

some links below to a prototyper we use in the UK sometimes: BEAMIT Group | Leading Additive Manufacturing services hub and One-Stop Shop

Your best bet is to talk to some industry specialists - many wonderful rp materials are available that could really accurately copy your museum peices. Good luck.

I agree with Boz88 SLS plastic or metal is a good option.

We have an large EOS machine at work using the Polyamide powder the result are good. I don’t know what you want the finished quality to look like, but painting the SLS parts with a layer of epoxy or urethane paint seals the part with good durability.

I had a friend that interned at this place, check out for Laser scanning too.

My company does print services for companies in all industries, including museum quality reproductions. Feel free to contact us for a free sample and quote. We have competitive prices as well as good turn around time.

Russ Frey

Feel free to check out our printed gallery.