How Does Chemical Etching Work?

Chemical etching is a highly accurate manufacturing process used to produce high precision metal parts. It is an increasingly popular manufacturing method which is sometimes referred to as Photo etching. 

This approach differs from other methods like laser cutting, water-jet cutting, stamping, punching, or die-cutting which are not able to deliver the same level of intricacy in the finished product. 

As such, this process is commonly used in the printing of technical and industrial parts, as well as for more everyday requirements like signage manufacturing for businesses. 

At Culzean Gifts, this highly reliable and flexible process allows us to accurately produce complex, sophisticated designs that would be much harder to do using other methods. 

How Does Chemical Etching work? 

The chemical etching process involves a number of stages, including cleaning, laminating, exposing, developing, etching, and stripping. When applied using standardised steps, extremely accurate and intricate parts can be produced. 

Initially, a sheet of material is first laminated with a layer of light-sensitive resist. This is then selectively exposed to UV light and developed, resulting in a positive image. After exposure to an etching solution, the final product is obtained by selectively removing the unprotected parts of the substrate. 

To put it another way, an acidic solution is applied which then eats away at the metal, leaving the etched pattern or design remaining. 

Each sheet of metal will come with an applied design as well as a photo-resist to protect the design from the acid. As the acid is applied to the object, it dissolves the remaining metal leaving only the desired design left standing. 

Benefits of Chemical Etching 

Chemical etching is suitable for the production of many parts and etching requirements, including complex, high-precision metal parts for industrial purposes. The chemical etching process works with almost any metal that can be produced. These include: 

  • Stainless steels
  • Mild steel
  • Aluminium
  • Molybdenum
  • Nickel alloys
  • Copper
  • Brass

Some of the many benefits of this process are:

  • Fit for the most intricate and complex designs
  • Low-cost design iterations
  • Fast production
  • No jagged edges
  • Can be used on almost any metal

What is Photo Etching Used for? 

Many everyday parts can be produced with chemical photo etching. It can be used in many sectors and industries from medical and research to consumer electronics and furniture. This is one of the most accurate processes in the industry. 

In truth, there are hundreds of different parts and components that chemical etching can be used for, including jewellery, phone appliances, cookers, washing machines, televisions, mobile phones, cars, aeroplanes, batteries, electronic devices, image sensors and circuit boards. 

As chemical etching is characterized by perfect cutting quality, there’s really no limit to what it can be used for. The chemical etching process is one that involves very little stress on the metal sheets with no burrs or rough edges on any part or component that goes through our metal etching process. 

It is often used for creating high-quality signs and plaques for a number of businesses, as well as hospitals, clinics and for commemorative and memorial purposes. This can offer a more timeless look and feel to complement the highest levels of accuracy and precision. 

November 30, 2020 — Paul Winrow