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Photo Etching vs. Traditional Metal Machining


See how photo etching compares with more traditional machining methods, such as laser cutting, stamping and wire EDM.




The table below provides a quick process comparison.


  Photo Etching* Laser Cutting Stamping Wire EDM Water Jet Cutting Electroforming
Sampling Low cost Low cost High cost Low cost Low cost Medium cost
Metals Nearly all metals Nearly all metals Nearly all metals Carbon steel and most metal alloys Nearly all metals Predominantly nickel
Hardness No restriction No restriction Problems with very soft, hard or brittle metals Hardness is a consideration Hardness is a consideration Generally 200-670 HV
Stress No stress Thermal stress on the cutting edge Stress at the cutting edge and close to it Deformation, tempering and structural changes may occur in the material Limited stress on the cutting edge Low stress
Burrs No burring Micro burring Partial burring Micro burring Micro burring No burring
Design changes Quick, easy, cost effective Quick, easy, cost effective Very costly & time consuming Quick, easy, cost effective Quick, easy, cost effective Quick, easy, cost effective
Typical lead times 48 hours 48 hours Several weeks 48 hours 48 hours 5 days
Tolerances as % of material thickness ±10% ±5% ±10% ±10% ±15% ±5%
Can be supplied in sheets for easy counting & handling Yes Yes Not easily Yes Yes Yes
*Other benefits of parts produced by Photo Etching are the ability to half etch through the metal, this can be used for logos, ident numbers and bend lines. The table above is an illustrative general guide to the capability of each process - this can vary significantly depending on the process supplier.