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What Is Selective Deposition Lamination (SDL) And What Does It Have to Do With Paper 3D Printing?

Apr 1, 2013 by

What Is Selective Deposition Lamination (SDL) And What Does It Have to Do With Paper 3D Printing?

The 3D printing and rapid prototyping industry is full of them – acronyms for all of the different technical processes used by 3D printers and rapid prototyping systems- DLP, SLA, PP, SLS, SHS, EBM DMLS, FDM and LOM, to name a “few.” The appearance and disappearance of different processes and their acronyms is a normal and healthy part of an industry’s evolution.

Well, we’re adding another acronym to the list: SDL, or Selective Deposition Lamination.

Here’s why.  Sometimes people inaccurately mistake our paper-based 3D printing technology for the old LOM (Laminated Object Manufacturing) process of many years ago.  I wrote about the distinct differences between Mcor’s paper 3D printing technology and LOM in a previous blog.

We realised that the term ‘paper 3D printing,’ while true to the material used – ordinary sheets of A4 and letter paper – doesn’t encapsulate the technical process involved in creating a physical 3D model.  And, while a subset of users, particularly in emerging application markets, don’t really care, as long as the technology does what they want it to do, others who have been involved with the technology for many years and/or who are involved in manufacturing and industrial applications, care very much about how it all works and prefer to categorize the technology.

Settling on the phrase, Selective Deposition Lamination or SDL was easy.  We like SDL because it perfectly describes the process behind paper 3D printing and differentiates it from other technologies.

Let’s examine this more closely.


This is arguably the most important word in the phrase and refers to the selective method that the printer uses in depositing the adhesive to bond the sheets of paper.  A much higher density of adhesive drops are deposited in the area that will become the part, and a much lower density of adhesive is applied in drops in the surrounding area that will serve as the support. This results in very quick and easy weeding or excavation of the part out of the supporting paper when printing is complete.

In the old LOM process, everything was glued together, including the support material around the model with the same intensity. Excavating the model was an ordeal, often resulting in part breakage.


Deposition refers to the method of applying the adhesive in droplets onto a sheet of ordinary paper following the cutting of the profile of the part in that sheet (this process is repeated for each sheet of paper that will be used to create the part).

This is quite different from the LOM process where the adhesive was pre-applied to the proprietary material in equal amounts across the entire surface of the material before cutting took place.


Lamination describes the process of building up successive layers of a substance – in our case, regular office paper – and bonding them to form a durable finished product.  And, although prototypes built with our printers are made from ordinary paper, they are incredibly durable! They don’t have to be post-processed to make them strong; you can safely use them right out of the printer.  They are not brittle and therefore don’t break or shatter when dropped, and if desired, they can be drilled, threaded, tapped or made water resistant with a quick dip in a sealant.



  1. Richard Grossberg

    Hello Julie,

    I recently found you on the internet. I am an architect living in Richmond, Virginia, USA. In 1980 I founded a company called Archadeck (, a design and build, business. I sold the business in 2008 after opening 80 offices in 5 countries. We spend a great deal of time and money on CAD. I am now preparing to launch my next project in 3D printing – the next generation beyond CAD.

    I found your web site and have been very impressed.

    I am very interested in learning more about you, your printers, and to exchange information.

    Look forward to hearing from you. If this reaches the wrong person please forward it.

    Thanks so much,


    Richard Grossberg
    Richmond, VA

    • Hi Richard,

      Thank you very much for your kind words and inquiry. I forwarded your note and contact details to my colleague, Gary Fudge, who will be in touch with you shortly.

  2. I would like to highlight in a technical report for graphic arts magazines the importance of the 3D printing. Your achievement in Staples, as per The Economist (August 10th) is very inetresting. Is there any further information from your side about? Could you send it to me? What about to make a replica on resin, or would it be cheaper on your paper sheets, from an stone slab incorporating dinosaur eggs before excavating them? What kind of machines: CT (portable + stronger LabCT)+3D printing machines would be necessary to have? Or is there in Europe any service Company owning the former and cashing just for the “service”? Any info about such a cost?
    Kind regards
    Andino (From Barcelona)

    • Julie Reece

      Hi Andino, We have information on our Website about our partnership with Staples. Our 3D printing process provides the lowest operating cost of any other 3D printing technology, including resins. CT scan data can indeed be used to 3D print an object. If you require additional detail about any of these topics, please complete this contact form and I will have the appropriate Mcor representative in your area contact you:

  3. Robert Z

    VERY interested in printing using LOM (SDL)using PVC sheets instead of simple paper. Is this possible on the Mcor machine?

    • Julie Reece

      Hi Robert,

      SDL isn’t LOM. In fact they are very different technologies. It’s not possible to use PVC sheets with SDL, only ordinary sheets of copy paper.

      • Hi Julie,

        Just curious, correct me if I am wrong. From my understanding of Mcor technologies SDL, instead of using a roll of paper like LOM, sheets of paper are loaded into the machine, the modified Epson inkjet printer then prints on the paper, adhesive is then “selectively” applied onto required area and finally the tungsten carbide blade cuts the meshing and as well as the “model”.

        Like Robert had questioned, is there a possibility of having “PVC” material. Is there a possibility of loading printable inkjet transparency into the machine to create the “PVC” model? These transparency paper come in form of A4 sheets, and are printable on inkjet printers. Since the “cutting” is done using tungsten carbide blade instead of laser, the blade should be able to cut the transparency sheet as well. I would reckon that the cost of material will increase but if this is workable, I believe the final product should be more lasting then the paper model. The only issue here might be the adhesive portion, how do or can adhesive be applied onto these transparency sheets?

        • Julie Reece

          Hi Lok, I should clarify, when I say it’s not possible – it might be possible with some adjustments, but we developed SDL technology specifically for paper as the build material because paper is low cost, ubiquitous, eco-friendly, safe, and enables photorealistic colour. In addition, the models are very stable and quite durable, even without any coating. They’ll last indefinitely if coated.

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