A photofabrication process that manufactures precision thin metal parts with simple to complex designs and low tolerances.
Photochemical machining is also is known as metal etching, photochemical etching, chemical etching, chemical milling, photo etching and chemical machining.
Photochemical etching is a combination of photolithography and the etching process. A photo tool with the part's exact dimensions is exposed and then hardened on a photoresist coated sheet of metal by a UV light. The areas of the tooling unmasked by the light source are washed away with a developing solution. The exposed bare metal of the part will dissolve during the etching process when sprayed with a chemical etchant. The result is a precision part retaining the lowest dimensional tolerances.
THE Alternative to Laser and Stamping
Here are some of the advantages photochemical etching has over other methods for many applications:
Learn More About Advantages >
Tooling is easy to modify and can be produced within hours.
Quick turnaround on short runs. Compound tooling combines more than one prototype with the same material.
Stress and Burr-Free
Eliminate costly deburring methods. There is no tooling wear and no metal stress in the finished part.
Intact Metal Properties
Hardness, grain structure, and ductility remain unaltered
Manufactured quickly and cost-efficiently with large volume production runs.
Advanced Metal Etching has been manufacturing precision photo-etched parts ranging in thickness from .002” to .060″ for many industries for 25 years. Our focus is precision in each of the seven steps in the photo etching process. We cross-train our employees to maintain this goal and to ensure quality.
We produce an AutoCAD photo tool on mylar film with your part's exact specifications and dimensions.
We thoroughly clean the metal you have chosen for your part and its intended application of any residual oils and oxides.
We apply a photoresist coating to make the metal surface sensitive to light during exposure. The laminated metal is placed between two identical copies of the photo tool. The surface is exposed to a UV light source that will harden the photoresist on the metal part design that is to remain throughout the etching process.
The sheets move through a developing machine where an alkaline solution washes away the top and bottom film on each sheet of metal.
We process the metal surface with a chemical etchant that dissolves the bare metal and leaves the desired design and dimensions.
The etched sheets or dropout pieces are placed in a tank full of sodium hydroxide-based solution to remove the remaining photoresist film.
The parts’ surface and dimensions are thoroughly measured using a comprehensive approach consisting of several handheld and electronic machines before carefully packaged and shipped.
Photo Etched Parts
Since 1993, we have manufactured a large variety of photo-etched products using the photochemical machining process for many different industries. Therefore, we are familiar with design challenges, material selection and how to achieve the closest tolerances with precision.
Our machines and photochemical etching processes can accommodate many types of metal alloys necessary for industry-specific functionality. We have a variety of metals in stock including stainless steel, cold rolled steel, alloy 42, beryllium copper, brass, nickel silver, nickel, Kovar, copper, and phosphorous bronze, and more.