What is Photo Etching and what are its Benefits

What exactly is photo etching?

Photo etching, likewise referred to as metal etching or chemical etching, happens to be an extremely precise and tightly controlled corrosion procedure which is employed to manufacture complicated metal components with intricate details.

The photo etching service provides an affordable alternative to punching, laser, and waterjet cutting as well as stamping while maintaining precision parts ranging from thin gauge metals to metals that are 1.5 mm in thickness.

How proto etching functions?

1. Sheet metal is going to be laminated using photoresist, which happens to be a light-sensitive polymer that is exposed to ultraviolet light for transferring the component’s CAD image.

2. The photoresist which is unexposed is going to be removed and then sprayed using etchant chemistry while getting rid of the unprotected metal one atom after another.

3. The photoresist mask will be removed for revealing the final etched part.

Benefits of photo etching service:

1. Laser cutting

Advanced optics and high-powered lasers are effectual in cutting materials. Several benefits consist of lack of any direct contact between the material and the tool which limits the threat of accidental cutting and marking. Nevertheless, this procedure happens to be cost-effective only for the production of small volumes. Laser cutting is extremely expensive for mass production and, unlike photo etching, it is not feasible to make multiple components at the same time.

2. Metal stamping

Flat sheet metal will be inserted inside a stamping press. Following this, it is molded into the desired shape with the help of die surface and a tool. Even though the tools are somewhat costly, they are effectual for miniaturization. Nevertheless, as compared to micro-stamping, chemical etching happens to be an affordable process that consumes less time and is also ultra-precise as well. The preparation of the tooling might consume 6 to 8 weeks when it comes to stamping. On the other hand, it is possible to create one photo-etching tool is only a few hours.

3. EDM

With EDM (Electrical Discharge Machining), a component will be produced by getting rid of materials using powerful electrical discharges or sparks. It is quite cost-effective similar to photo etching for producing prototypes or small volumes. However, etching happens to be a more cost-effective procedure for large-scale production.

4. CNC machining

One needs to invest a considerable amount of money for tools related to CNC Machining. In fact, small production volumes aren’t cost-effective and the long-term expenses, in higher volumes, are higher as compared to chemical etching. It is possible to manufacture lots of components without any extra tooling with photochemical machining.

5. Water jetting

It is possible for high-pressure water jets to cut different types of materials when mixed with abrasives and focused into a thin beam. However, the operation charges are quite high. On the other hand, chemical etching happens to be the more cost-effective alternative in terms of prototyping, large volume or small volume production.

Metals that can be etched are as follows:

• Nickel plus nickel alloys

• Stainless steel

• Copper plus copper alloys

• Titanium plus titanium alloys

• Aluminum

• Other specialized metals consisting of molybdenum plus polyimide metalized film