Leading Photo Etching Manufacturers

Photochemical etching is a subtractive, non-traditional machining process that uses chemical and photographic techniques to design and shape metal workpieces. After developing the design of the image on the workpiece, a strong chemical solution is poured over the workpiece. As a result, the workpiece corrodes selectively and removes all unnecessary material from areas that are not protected, leaving a sharp image or flawless part. Read More…

Photo Etching The process of photo etching can be used on virtually any commercial metal including aluminum, copper, molybdenum, steel and brass, but is limited to a thickness range from .001" to 0.080" for maximum effectiveness.

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.

Great Lakes Engineering, Inc. $$$

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. ...

VACCO Industries, Inc. $$$

The MET Manufacturing Group, LLC process offers many technical & financial advantages in manufacturing various flat metal components. Try this precision etching, non-mechanical process for competitively priced, burr & stress free sheet metal products, up to 62 mil (.062”) thick. Our photo-chemical machining process is also known as photo-fabrication, photo etching, chemical milling & acid...

MET Manufacturing Group, LLC $$$

Etchit is your high-quality solution for custom-manufactured precision metal parts and components. We use photochemical machining to make products for such industries as aerospace, audio, automotive, computer, circuit board, decorative and fastener. Does your product need photo etching processes?

Etchit $$$

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.

Photofabrication Engineering Inc. $$$

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.

Lancaster Metals Science Corporation $$$
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placeholder image Great Lakes Engineering, Inc. VACCO Industries, Inc. MET Manufacturing Group, LLC Etchit Photofabrication Engineering Inc. Lancaster Metals Science Corporation

What is Photochemical Etching?

The areas that need to be removed or saved are picked up using photographic methods and procedures like photoresist imaging.

Photo Etching

The main advantage of this machining process is that it manufactures and produces precision parts that are impossible to produce by traditional machining methods.

The photo etching process produces thin and flat parts, with the smallest of them about ten microns.

Photo Etched Metal

The Photochemical Etching Process

The photochemical etching process makes it possible to etch intricate and highly complex features into a range of different metals.

Basic Photochemical Etching Process

Photo Tool Plotting

The photographic negative of the artwork or profile desired is the photo tool. Engineering design software is normally used to come up with patterns. Then, the design and its parameters are converted into a photo tool before they are printed onto a photographic film. Photo tool dimensions are affected by the following:

Temperature and Humidity Variations

Dimensional variations are possible because of continuous changes in humidity and temperature. Measures taken to control these variations include using thicker polyester films or plotting in a controlled environment. If variations in humidity and temperature cannot be controlled, it is wise to use techniques such as laser direct writing.

Etch Factor

Most of the etchants act isotropically, producing undercuts. An isotropic reaction is considered more prevalent in long etching processes. Longer periods of etchant exposure are needed for deep etches, resulting in more significant undercuts.

Material Preparation

The workpiece undergoes cutting and cleaning prior to the application of photoresist coating. This is done to ensure that any dirt, grease, oil, or rust accumulated on the surface of the metal from its handling and primary processing will not stop the photoresist from adhering. There are two main procedures for cleaning: mechanical and chemical.

Substrate or Wafer

The latter method involves a mild pickling process in which the material is suspended in a solution containing degreasing agents and mild acids. The former method subjects the material to scrubbing and mild degreasing agents. However, chemical cleaning processes are much preferred over mechanical ones because there is less damage caused to the material.

Photoresist Coating

Photoresists are very light organic materials that are deposited on the workpiece surface. They can cope with etching solutions and leave a well-defined image. When the coating is exposed to ultraviolet radiation, it becomes soluble or insoluble to the solvent, depending on the type. Photoresists are classified as positive or negative. Positive photoresists have areas that become soluble to the developer solvent when exposed. On the other hand, negative photoresists, when exposed to ultraviolet light, become chemically resistant to the developer solvent.

Soft Bake

In soft baking, the photoresist is heated or baked to release or vaporize the residual solvents. The process has to be under control since it is associated with a high evaporation rate that causes bubbles to form, creating voids inside the photoresist.

Alignment and Exposure

For multi-layered patterns, it is crucial to ensure the correct alignment of the photo tools. Exposure is a process where the image on the photo tool is brought to the workpiece with a photoresist.

The development of the photoresist follows the above. Then, hard baking is done using nitrogen blow drying and distilled water. The etching process then removes all the unprotected regions of the substrate or wafer by using chemical agents.

Photoresist Removal and Stripping

When the substrate structure required is made, the photoresist is removed. It has to be done very quickly without causing any damage. Various methods can be used to remove the photoresist material, such as solvents or oxygen combustion.

Photochemical Etching Strain Gauge

Photochemical Etching Applications and Advantages

The applications and advantages of photochemical etching include:

Applications of Photochemical Etching

Spin Coating
  • Aerospace components
  • Gaskets and seals
  • Fine filters and screens
  • Decoration
  • Printed circuit boards
  • Electronics
  • Medical grade materials
  • Automotive industry

Advantages of Photochemical Etching

  • Reduced production time
  • Less costly
  • High precision
  • Ability to produce small-scale products

Choosing the Right Photochemical Etching Company

To make sure you have the most productive outcome when purchasing Photochemical Etching from a Photochemical Etching Supplier, it is important to compare at least 4 Companies using our Photochemical Etching directory. Each Photochemical Etching Manufacturer has a business profile page that highlights their areas of experience and capabilities and a contact form to directly communicate with the manufacturer for more information or request a quote. Review each Photochemical Etching company website using our patented website previewer to get an idea of what each company specializes in, and then use our simple RFQ form to contact multiple Photochemical Etching companies with the same quote.

Photo Etching Informational Video


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