Chemical Metal Etching Capabilities

Tolerancing and other important design information can be found here.

Chemical Etching - General Information

Chemical etching, another industry name for photo etching and photochemical etching, is a cost-effective manufacturing process for a variety of industrial thin metal parts. The photo etching process is ideal for the precision machining of parts with simple to complex designs.  

The chemical etching process does not use a point of contact with the metal like mechanical tooling, a laser beam or an electrical discharge in processes such as stamping, CNC machining process, laser cutting, and wire EDM.  The use of an acid chemical etchant simultaneously dissolves away the unwanted metal of the desired part. As a result, parts are burr and stress-free while metal properties remain intact.  

Metal etching is the smart option for parts with complexity such as intricate designs or numerous holes and slots. The etching process saves time and money as those features are etched simultaneously and there is no extra charge per hole or slot and no extra set up time. Large volume production with complex parts are more cost-effective and provide faster lead times.

Another chemical etching capability half-etching.  This feature is beneficial for parts that need forming.  The half-etched lines, otherwise known as score lines, will make the part easy to form manually to eliminate stress in thin parts.  Half-etching is not limited to one side of the metal, nor does it increase etching costs.   Logos and numbers can also be etched with no extra time and cost.

Prototype development is essential in every industry and ongoing for product improvements and new design testing. Since photo etching tooling is digital, revisions are done quickly with minimal cost. That means that prototype parts get out the door faster to keep your projects on schedule.

For the full list of chemical etching benefits Read More

Chemical Etching Metal - Technical Guidelines

The chemical etching technical data below highlights our chemical etching capabilities and lowest tolerances achievable based on many variables such as metal thickness, metal type, and special part features such as holes,  slots, and half-etched designs.

Our goal is to design a photo tool with as many parts per sheet of metal as possible.  As a general rule of thumb, thicker material and lower tolerances will require a smaller sheet yielding fewer pieces.  On the contrary,  thinner metal with an extended range of tolerances will increase sheet size and part pieces.  Photochemical etching techniques are designed to achieve the lowest possible tolerance and the highest number of parts per sheet in order to save you time and money.

Parts can either come tabbed in the sheet, for better transport or if secondary finishes are required, at no extra cost.  Or, if tabbing is not an option for functional or dimensional purposes, then the parts are classified as "drop outs" and special packaging is included. Please refer to "What is the Photo Etching Process?" to learn more about photo etching techniques and the special types of tabs that are available.

Table 1: Etched Dimension Tolerances
Thickness (T) in inches
Table 2: Holes or Slots
Metal Thickness (T)Diameter or Width
.001" -0.005"At least Metal Thickness, Minimum .003"
.005" or OverMinimum of 1.1 times
Metal Thickness
Table 3: Web or Finger
Metal Thickness (T)Space Between Holes (W)
Less than 0.005"At least Metal Thickness, Minimum .003"
Over .005"Minimum of 1.0 times
Metal Thickness
Table 4: Center to Center Tolerances
C/C Dimensions (inches)Tolerance Attainable
1.0" or Less±.0005"
1.0" - 3.0"±.0010"
3.0" - 6.0"±.0020"
6.0" - 10.0"±.0030"
Table 5: Half Etch Based on Material Thickness
25% - 75%100% +25%
Table 5: Allowable Materials
Material Name
Stainless Steel
Cold Rolled Steel
Alloy 42
Beryllium Copper
Beryllium Copper
Nickel Silver
Phosphorous Bronze
And more
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