FDM: FDM printers are fairly straightforward – insert plastic filament in one end, and extruder out the other. This simplicity and relative cleanliness has made FDM printers a choice for those who want to use them in an open office or educational environment. The parts come out dry and clean, and often there is just the singular post-processing of removing supports by breaking them off. The remaining material is easily stored in hard plastic filament form for the next print.
SLA: While SLA printed parts can be nice looking, there is a little extra work that goes into the process. The nature of printing parts in a liquid resin can be too much of a hassle for some due to the resulting mess – parts come out sticky, and resin can find its way into the larger workspace. Also the resin can be highly toxic – requiring the use of goggles, gloves, and other protective equipment.
Post-processing involves multiple steps – first washing the print to remove excess resin, followed by clipping off supports which requires clippers (be careful not to remove features that are actually the print!). Lastly, a further curing process using a UV lamp is recommended to finish the part. The remaining material of liquid resin must be kept in the tray away from light and has a short shelf life once in the tray.
This chemical-laden process means that SLA printers are most often found in closed labs.