Benefits at a glance
- Unlimited complexity – you only pay for the first hole
- No expensive hard tooling required
- Low-cost design iterations – fast
- Burr and stress-free – metal temper and magnetic properties unaffected
- Lead-times in days, not months
- Virtually any metal
- Accuracy to ±0.025mm
What is metal etching?
Metal etching, also known as photo etching, chemical etching or chemical milling, is a subtractive metal machining process which uses etchant chemistry to produce complex, highly accurate metal components.
Metal etching offers a fast, economical alternative to stamping, punching, laser and water jet cutting when machining feature dense, tight tolerance components from almost any thin gauge metal to 1.5mm thick.
How it works
- Metal is laminated with photoresist, a light-sensitive polymer, which is ‘printed’ UV-light to transfer the CAD image of the part.
- The unexposed areas of photoresist are removed (developed) then sprayed with an etchant, typically ferric chloride, to remove the unprotected metal.
- The remaining photoresist mask is removed (stripped) to reveal the final etched part.
Metal etching benefits
- The tooling for metal etching is digital, meaning design changes can be carried out quickly and design optimisation is risk-free without financial penalty.
- No mechanical force or heat is used during the metal etching process, ensuring material properties are unaltered and components are free from stresses and burrs.
- As component features are machined simultaneously almost limitless part complexity is achievable, with accuracy to ±0.025mm.
What metals can be etched?
Almost any metal can be etched, these include:
- Steel and stainless steels
- Nickel and nickel alloys
- Copper and copper alloys
- Titanium and titanium alloys
- Other specialist metals including molybdenum and polyimide metallised film
We also work with customer supplied material. Please contact us for more information.
Precision Micro: The market-leading metal etching company
Precision Micro has been at the forefront of metal etching technology for more than 50 years. We are trusted by industry-leading names to deliver innovative solutions to a wide range of engineering challenges.
Here are a few reasons why
- Unrivalled know-how – Precision Micro has pioneered photo etching for over half a century
- Proven capability – AS 9100, IATF 16949, ISO 9001, ISO 13485 and ISO 14001 accredited
- Largest capacity – 44,000 sq ft state-of-the-art photo etching plant
- Material know-how – we specialise in etching hard-to-machine metals
- 2,000+ metal variants – standard and specialist material types and grades
- Global support – we have sales offices and partners in locations that enable us to respond quickly to demand
- Added value – we offer a number of additional services, including wire EDM, electropolishing, forming, finishing and plating