Photo Etching Benefits
The benefits of chemical etching should be considered by engineers in the design for manufacturing process engineers in the design for manufacturing process when choosing a manufacturing method.
Here are the advantages of photo etching compared to other manufacturing processes:
- Inexpensive flexible tooling for quick prototyping and design changes.
- Metal properties remain unaltered
- Low-cost repeatability for large production of parts with complex designs
- Burr-free parts with low tolerances
- Quick turnaround
Inexpensive Flexible Tooling - Quick Prototyping
Photo etching tooling is digital, unlike costly conventional methods such as stamping. Moreover, tooling is generated within hours; whereas, hard tooling can take weeks. A repeating pattern of a part's dimensions is created through CAD software. Then, a photoplotter machine produces two pieces of mylar film with the digital image. One piece is placed on top of the metal sheet and the other on the bottom.
This low-cost process allows the engineer to generate a repeating pattern onto the tooling film to maximize the number of parts per sheet. Digital tooling is easy to modify for prototype development and therefore significantly reduces project time. Part revisions are a snap which makes it ideal for prototypes or short runs. There is no wear on the tooling and it can be stored for the life of the part.
Metal Properties Remain Unaltered
Other machining methods such as laser cutting and stamping can alter the metal properties with heat or mechanical stress during production. However, with the photo chemical etching process, the internal structure of the metal remains unchanged. A chemical etchant dissolves the unwanted part sections. There is no point of contact with chemical metal etching such as heat, or hard tooling.
The hardness, grain structure, and ductility of the metal are unaffected. This advantage is significant for the function of many industrial components that rely on precision, low tolerances, and high conductivity. And for this reason, chemical etching is ideal for electronic components such as electrical contacts, connectors, EMI/RF shielding, pins, and terminals.
Low-cost repeatability with complex designs
The tooling is designed to yield as many pieces as the part design will allow. Because of the repeatability in the chemical etching process, large production runs are a lower cost and faster option compared to stamping and laser, especially when it involves complex designs. Parts with holes or slots and other intricate features are made with no additional charge.
Additionally, we can etch company logos, part numbers or other identifying marks at no extra cost. The photo etching tooling remains the same whether it's for one part or a million. As industrial components get smaller, photochemical machining will save you time and money.
Burr-Free Tight Tolerances
Another chemical etching advantage is that finished parts are guaranteed to be free from burrs or mechanical stress. Other processes often leave burrs or micro burrs that can interfere with part function. For example, clean, smooth surfaces are desirable for electronic mating components. The absence of burrs also decreases unwanted friction and heat to ensure peak performance for other types of electronic and RF microwave components.
Photo etched parts eliminate the need for the costly secondary deburring operation that may be necessary for other manufacturing processes.
Another metal etching advantage is the capability to hold low tolerances with all types of metals. The etching speed is carefully controlled to achieve the desired tolerances. Because a photo tool will produce an exact replica of a part's dimension and does not wear like hard tooling, it is easy to maintain required tolerances.
The elimination of mechanical tooling and its long lead time, the absence of surface burrs and deburring requirements, plus the speed with intricate designs makes photo chemical etching a fast manufacturing process for prototypes or large production.
We at AME understand that our success is contingent upon your success. We want to provide the best quality photo etching services possible while controlling costs and turn-around times.
Capacity and Location
Centrally located in the United States near major industrial areas is ideal for quick delivery. Our large facility has room for growth as services expand. We have the capacity to help scale your business.
American Made Custom Manufacturers
Purchasing raw materials made in the USA, allows us to control the quality in and out of our facility. All material is RoHS and DFARS compliant.
Beginning with design and continuing with material prep, production, and inspection, we check each stage and document quality processes before the final product ships. Our employees are cross-trained in many of the operations, and a customized order tracking system aids in project and time management. Customer inquiries or modifications are easily addressed. We are ISO 9001:2015 Certified and ITAR Registered.
We have been in business for over 25 years, including many on our management team. Therefore, we have a broad knowledge of metal etching techniques as it applies to different product applications. We value our employees and long-standing domestic and international customers.
Same-day responses to inquiries and RFQs are the norm. Our production tracking system will ensure the minimal lead time and allow flexibility when there is a request or need for changes. In most cases, with AME PARTS NOW, we can transform raw material into prototype parts in 24 hours or less if requested.
We offer in-house post-production tin plating and partner with other plating, forming and finishing services companies to give you the option of complete turnkey parts.