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 the chemical etching process 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.

We stock a wide range of metals suitable for the most commonly requested parts in a variety of industries.  For example, most electronic components require a non-corrosive, highly conductive metal such as copper and phosphorus bronze.  In the automotive and aerospace industries, for some applications the weight and strength of the metal are important considerations; therefore, aluminum is a popular choice.  And medical device parts benefit from the non-corrosive property of stainless steel.

Some metals require variations in the etching process, for example,  etching copper uses a different etchant than steel, and the temperature in the etcher must be lower to etch aluminum.  Also, depending on the part features and metal thickness, the time it takes to etch will differ. Nevertheless, all metals are etched to precision.

What are the benefits of photo etching metal?

Photo etching is a great alternative to other metal fabrication methods such as stamping, laser cutting, wire EDM, and water jet cutting.  Unlike these other processes, metal etch can achieve all the following results without compromising the part's function and quality.

  • 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 various tempers and thicknesses.  This is not a complete list, so 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.

If we do not have a certain metal thickness in stock, we can "mill down" or etch the metal to the desired thickness.  This is one of the benefits of choosing the chemical etching process. The etching process will not alter the metal properties or flatness of the metal, and you will not have to wait until the metal is in stock, which means lower lead times.

The largest sheet of metal we can etch is 24" x30".  However, a one-inch border around the perimeter is necessary to maintain part tolerances, so the largest part we can actually etch is 23" x 29".

Photo Etching Metal/White Metals

Stainless Steel

Cold Rolled Steel

alloy 42

Nickel Silver

Nickel

Kovar

Aluminum

Inconel

Molybdenum

Hy-Mu 80

Want to see how etching can save you time and money? Lets get started!

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