With traditional sheet metalworking technologies, complexity equals cost. The tooling for complex components costs more and non-standard materials, thicknesses and grades are more expensive to process.
The geometric complexity and precision tolerances offered by chemical etching make it not just a desirable manufacturing process, but in some instances the only technology suitable for extreme environment applications.
The process comparison table below benchmarks some of the key criteria sought by design engineers when specifying both specialist and traditional sheet metalworking technologies.
Please note that lead times are typical so may vary depending on component complexity, development, required quantity or production capacity at the time of order placement.
Process comparison table
|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||Conductive metals||Nearly all metals||Nickel and copper|
|Hardness||No restriction||No restriction||Problems with soft, hard or brittle metals||Hardness is a consideration||Hardness is a consideration||Typically 200-670 HV|
|Stress||No stress||Thermal stress on cutting edge||Stress at cutting edge||Deformation, tempering and structural changes may occur||Limited stress on cutting edge||Low-stress|
|Burrs||No burring||Micro burring||Partial burring||Micro burring||Micro burring||No burring|
|Tooling and design changes||Quick, easy and cost effective||Quick, easy and cost effective||Expensive and time consuming||Quick, easy and cost-effective||Quick, easy and cost- effective||Quick, easy and cost-effective|
|Typical lead times||Seven days||Seven days||Six weeks - six months||Seven days||Seven days||Seven days|
|Tolerance as a percentage of metal thickness||±10%||±5%||±10%||±10%||±15%||±5%|
|Can parts be supplied in sheets for easy counting/handling?||Yes||Yes||Not easily||Yes||Yes||Yes|