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Chemical Etching

A reliable source for Chemical Etching information and leading Chemical Etching Companies

Requiring knowledge of chemicals and their reactions with certain metals, chemical etching is a specialized procedure that includes almost no mechanical work. Read More…

Chemical Etching Chemical etching, otherwise known as acid etching or chemical milling, is a chemical process used by many industrial metal parts manufacturers to etch, cut or engrave very delicate or precise lines into metal through the use of corrosive acids and bases.
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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. $$$

Phoenix, AZ  |  602-278-7800

Quality. Integrity. Made in USA. Precision etched parts, nameplates, asset tags, graphic overlays, signage and more - our team has been producing high quality products for over 35 years. We serve all industries - automotive, aerospace, military, medical, electronics and equipment manufacturers.

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PMA Photometals $$$

Milford, MA  |  508-478-2025

PEI is a leading producer of photochemical machining and photochemical etching precision and decorative metal parts. We use chemical machining and etching as a process to selectively remove material by chemical action, creating extraordinary cost-effectiveness. In business since 1967.

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Photofabrication Engineering Inc. $$$

Santa Clara, CA  |  888-448-2549

Founded in 1977, we offer photochemical machining to make products from copper-based alloys plus ferrous and high-nickel alloys. We have used chemical milling to produce items for the architectural, decorative, mechanical and motion picture industries. Secondary operations also available.

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Italix Company Inc. $$$
placeholder image Great Lakes Engineering, Inc. VACCO Industries, Inc. PMA Photometals Photofabrication Engineering Inc. Italix Company Inc.

Almost all metals can be processed using chemical etching, such as steel, brass, nickel, copper and more, as well as most types of glass with similar effects. The different types of metals require different etchants in order to achieve the desired results in terms of depth of etching.

Instead of mechanical etching or hand etching which require specialized tools, there are very low tooling costs for chemical milling, and complete parts can be finished in a matter of hours. There are a number of industrial uses for the process of etching, as well as decorative or artistic purposes for the procedure.

Objects manufactured using chemical etching include stencils, plaques, printing plates, circuit boards, dies and more. The metals on which etching is most effective are usually thin, such as metal sheets or foils, although thicker parts such as coins and plaques are commonly etched too.

There are numerous steps to the etching, or milling, process. First, the material or part to be etched is thoroughly cleansed of all oils and chemicals which it may have been exposed to during the forging or fabricating.

Next, the masking or protective layer is applied in order to prepare the part for the etching design. The types of masking used can be tape, paint, elastomer or plastic. This masking is coated onto the part or metal sheet, sometimes in a number of layers if for a complicated pattern.

Using a scribe and peel method, the desired pattern or design can be cut into the masking layer to reveal areas of the metal part which the acid or reagent will come into contact with. If using a photoresist as the masking layer for photo engraving, the part needs to be exposed to targeted light in order to develop the masking layer in the pattern desired.

Once the reagent is applied to the metal part, it reacts with the metal and corrodes the surface along the lines of the pattern or design. Once the desired depth of etch is achieved, the chemical and the masking layer can be removed from the part to reveal the completed etching.

Chemical etching is a often a more cost-effective and time-effective manufacturing solution than mechanical or hand milling.

Chemical Etching Informational Video


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