FAQ - Frequently asked questions about metal etching

Here you will find a compilation of frequently asked questions about etching, etching technology, chemical etching,  etc.

Photo chemical etching is a subtractive metal fabrication process that provides designers with very high levels of design freedom. By using this method, designers can create thin metal parts with intricate and complex shapes with precision and accuracy that would otherwise be impossible to achieve. The process works by using a photoresist material to protect certain areas of the metal from being removed by an etchant, while leaving other areas exposed. This allows for complex shapes to be created without the need for expensive tooling or machining processes.
Photo chemical etching is also important as it offers additional benefits such as cost savings and shorter lead times compared to other fabrication methods. With its ability to provide greater design freedom, photo chemical etching is becoming an increasingly popular choice for designers who are looking for more creative options to realize innovative product features. This can also include so called half-etches, where the material is only partially etched away, allowing the creation of tiny channels for microfluids, or helping with subsequent process steps like forming. As all this is achieved without changing the material properties of the metal parts, chemical etching is playing a vital role in opening up new design options.

Chemical etching can be used on a variety of metals achieving precision that is beyond the ability of other metal fabrication processes. Stainless steel, however, remains the number one choice for many customers due to its versatility, the numerous grades available, the large number of related alloys, its favourable material properties, and the vast array of finishes. It is the metal of choice for many applications in a wide range of industries.

Stainless steels contain chromium to give them high resistance to corrosion. Typical examples of etchable stainless steels are 1.4310 (AISI 301), 1.4404 (AISI 316L) or 1.4301 (AISI 304). In addition to austenitic steels, a variety of ferritic, martensitic or duplex steels can also be etched.

Photo-chemically etched stainless steel components are often used in safety-critical or extreme environment applications — such as ABS braking systems, and fuel injection systems — etched flexures have the ability to “flex” millions of times faultlessly as the process does not alter the fatigue strength of the steel. Alternative processing technologies such as machining and wiring often leave small burrs and recast layers which can compromise spring performance. Photo-chemical etching eliminates potential fracture sites in the material grain, producing flexures free from burrs and recast layers, ensuring a longer product life and higher reliability.

Steels can be hardened by thermal, mechanical and chemical methods, or combinations of these. Hardened steel is a challenging material to work with, as it is extremely strong and durable. It is possible though to photo chemical etch hardened steel. This process involves using light-sensitive chemicals that react to ultraviolet radiation and create an etching on the surface of the steel. The result is an intricate design that can be used for various applications such as decorative items or functional parts. Via chemical etching, hardened steel can be etched without damaging its strength or durability.
Etching is an efficient and cost-effective method for producing complex parts made of hardened steel with high precision and accuracy. It also offers the advantage of being able to produce parts that are not possible with traditional machining processes such as stamping and punching.

Chemical machining is a process of removing material from a workpiece using chemical reactions instead of traditional power-driven machining tools. It is a precise and cost-effective way to produce components with complex shapes and intricate details. The process involves etching, or dissolving, the material from the surface of the workpiece using an acid or alkaline solution. This solution is applied to the surface in order to create patterns or features on the component. By controlling the concentration and duration of exposure, it is possible to achieve very high levels of accuracy and detail in the finished product. In contrast to other methods, the chemical machining process does not alter the material properties of parts.

Photo-chemical machining is a process used to remove material from a workpiece in order to create a desired shape or finish. It has become increasingly popular due to its ability to produce complex shapes and parts with high precision and accuracy. The advantages of chemical machining include
• low cost
• quick turnaround time
• clean metal parts with no burrs,
• a broad portfolio of machinable metals and alloys,
• minimal waste,
• and the ability to produce intricate shapes with high precision.
• cleanliness
• and oilfree components.

PCM can be used on a variety of materials such as steel, aluminum, and titanium. This makes it an ideal choice for many manufacturing applications.
Photo-chemical machining, also known as chemical etching, involves the use of a chemical solution to dissolve away unwanted material from the surface of the metal part. This results in an accurate, smooth finish with minimal burrs and stress. Chemical etching can be used to produce complex components that require high levels of accuracy and detail. It is not only ideal for producing very large numbers of small parts, but can also be used at low volumes due to its low setup costs and fast turnaround times.

Photo Chemical Etching
- A Compelling Alternative
Discover the advantages that our metal etching technique offers in this webinar (approx. 20 min).