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Aluminum Etching

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Though many different types of metals may be etched, aluminum is one of the most common materials used in modern etching contexts. Also spelled aluminium, this is one of the most abundant metallic chemical elements found in the Earth’s crust and the third most plentiful of all elements. Its strong affinity to oxygen, however, makes its free form presence rare in nature. Read More…

Aluminum Etching Etching is a mechanical or chemical process that utilizes many different techniques to cut, engrave or otherwise depress designs into a flat piece of metal.
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Leading Manufacturers

Maple Grove, MN  |  763-425-4755

Great Lakes Engineering is a trend setting manufacturer of surface mount stencils, precision laser cut parts, and photo chemical etched parts. We work with a wide range of materials, including Stainless Steel, Copper, Titanium, Nitinol, Nickel, Kovar and many others.

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Great Lakes Engineering, Inc. $$$

El Monte, CA  |  626-443-7121

VACCO is the industry leader of Photo Chemical Etching of metal & polyimide components and devices. We specialize in Stainless steel, Titanium, and Copper, but work with a variety of different materials. We have over 60 years of experience in Chem Etching, and we offer Micro Laser Cutting & Welding, and Diffusion & Adhesive Bonding services along with an extensive range of value-added services. Whether your application is large or small, VACCO can assist you from prototype to production.

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VACCO Industries, Inc. $$$

Lancaster, PA  |  800-522-9709

Photochemical machining is the process we use on aluminum (and alloys), brass, copper, inconels, kovar, metal foils (less than .001” thick), metal sheets (up to .125” thick), mild steels, molybdenum, monels, nickel, phosphor bronze, stainless (300 & 400) and others. Trust your metal etching needs to us.

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Lancaster Metals Science Corporation $$$

Newark, NY  |  315-331-7680

Our metal engraving is the best in the industry! We work with a variety of metals to come out with the finished product that you have been searching for. Our metals that we use are typically flat sheets that are coiled or blanks that are cut to size. We are committed to providing excellent customer service every time you do business with us. Get in touch with our staff today or fill out the easy form on our website to get started!

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NEWCUT, Incorporated $$$
placeholder image Great Lakes Engineering, Inc. VACCO Industries, Inc. Lancaster Metals Science Corporation NEWCUT, Incorporated

Aluminum is extracted from ores such as bauxite using the Hall-Heroult method. While mining and refining this metal can be difficult, it is easily manufactured and 100% recyclable without any loss of its natural qualities.

Extreme malleability, corrosion resistance, ductility, strength and thermal and electrical conductivity make aluminum sheets, plates, strips and foils prime candidates for etching and engraving processes.

While hobbyists and artists frequently utilize aluminum etching, industrial and commercial manufacturing also incorporate this medium in a variety of applications. Transportation, aerospace, construction, electrical and medical industries all integrate aluminum etching in metal components.

Products such as castings, tubes, construction hardware, cooking utensils, watches and heat sinks frequently include etched aluminum components.

Such a wide variety of aluminum etched products reflects the many different etching techniques available. While hand etching with a needle is still popular in artistic and custom applications, chemical etching or machining is the most common industrial etching method, particularly acid etching and photofabrication.

Acid etching is accomplished by covering the aluminum surface to be etched with an acid resistant waxy ground such as asphaltum. The manufacturer scratches off the ground, using a point etching needle creating the design of the finished piece.

The aluminum sheet is then dipped into acid or has acid washed over the metal. Photofabrication follows a similar procedure but rather than a waxy ground, the aluminum is covered in a photoresist and exposed to UV light to create the template necessary before the corrosive chemical is applied.

In either instance, the chemical wash bites into the metal where it is unprotected, leaving a depression in the plate. The depth of the groove depends on the length of application.

When the desired depth is achieved, the remaining chemicals are washed off and the rest of the wax or photoresist is removed to reveal the finished product. Sodium hydroxide is the chemical most often used with when etching aluminum.

Aluminum Etching Informational Video