The hybrid stereolithography (SLA) process integrates a laser scanning-based system and a mask projection-based system. Multiple laser paths are used to scan the border of a 2D pattern, whereas a mask image is adopted to solidify the interior area. By integrating merits of two subsystems, the hybrid SLA process can achieve high surface quality without sacrificing productivity. For the hybrid system, closed polygonal contours are required to direct the laser scanning, and a binary image is also needed for the mask projection. We proposed a novel image-based slicing method. This approach can convert a 3D model into a series of binary images directly, and each image is corresponding to the cross section of the model at a specific height. Based on the resultant binary image, we use an image processing method to gradually shrink the pattern in the image. Boundaries of the shrunk image are traced and then restored as polygons to direct the laser spot movement. The final shrunk image serves as the input for the mask projection. Experimental results of test cases demonstrate that the proposed method is substantially more efficient than the traditional approaches. Its accuracy is also studied and discussed.

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