Photo Etching Metal

A list of available metals suited for the chemical etching process

What type of metals are used in the metal etching process?

One of the advantages of photo etching metal is that it is suitable for many different types such as stainless steel, cold-rolled steel, aluminum, nickel/silver, brass, copper, phosphorus bronze, beryllium copper as well as some exotic metals including Molybedum and Inconel.

During the design phase, engineers decide which type of metal is the best choice for the part's function in many industrial applications. For example, most electronic components require a non-corrosive, highly conductive metal such as copper and phosphorus bronze.  In the automotive and aerospace industries, the weight and strength of the metal are important; therefore, aluminum is a popular choice.  And medical device parts benefit from the non-corrosive property in stainless steel.

While it is true that not all metal types etch with the same process, for example, photo etching copper involves a different etchant than steel, and photo etching aluminum requires a lowered temperature in the etcher. Nevertheless, the results are the same for all metal etched parts.

What are the benefits of photo etching metal?

  • Unaltered metal properties - no machining heat-affected zones
  • Burr and stress-free - no need for secondary deburring operations
  • Low tolerances on part dimensions without compromising part design
  • Smooth even surfaces-no pits
  • Unlimited part features etched at no extra cost to save time and money

examples of photo etching metal parts

What are the most common types of photo etched metals?

Here is a list of common metals and their attractive properties for chemically etching applications.

  • Stainless Steel -corrosion-resistant, good performance in high and low temperatures, ductile which makes it easy to form, excellent weldability
  • Copper - excellent thermal and electrical conductivity, solderable, strength and ductility make it suitable for forming
  • Beryllium Copper - stronger than copper, holds strength at low temperatures, electrical and thermal conductivity, corrosion-resistant, with heat treatment can be hardened or softened, suitable for forming
  • Brass - like the other red metals it is a good conductor of heat and electricity, ductile, and corrosion and wear-resistant
  • Cold-rolled Steel - high strength, smoother and shinier surface than carbon steel make it more corrosion-resistant, spring properties, retains shape when forming
  • Aluminumgood conductor of heat and electricity, ductile, high strength in extreme temperatures, corrosion-resistant

Metal Stock List

Our metal stock reflects the most requested materials for photo etched parts including a variety of tempers and thicknesses.  This is not a complete list. If you do not see a metal that you require, please contact us for more information.  Our metal supply partners have an excellent delivery response rate.

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