Stereolithography is a Rapid Prototyping and Manufacturing (RP&M) technique which can be used to produce 3D plastic parts directly out computer files generated by CAD. Stereolithography systems use ultraviolet lasers to solidify liquid resin into the desired form as defined by the CAD file. Solidified plastic parts are built completely automatically (i.e. unattended) a layer at the time (typical laser thickness is 150 micrometers ) on the surface of the liquid resin. A slice cross section of the part is solidified by directing the laser beam onto the photopolymer surface using two (x and y direction) high speed vector scanning mirrors. This talk describes recent advances involving laser and optics technology applied to stereolithography and RP&M. These include: (1) improved reliability and power from ultraviolet gas lasers (HeCd and Argon Ion), (2) laser beam conditioning control to achieve accurate realization of small features, (3) advanced use of a fast AOM (acousto-optic modulator) shutter in the beam steering, and (4) improved performance of fast scanning mirrors. The application of emerging all solid state ultraviolet laser sources for stereolithography will also be discussed.