Etching Stainless Steel
Stainless steel etched components are very easy to manufacture with the chemical etching process. Because the chemical composition of stainless steel is resistant to corrosion, the acid used in the etching process will not affect the metal's properties. The part surface remains smooth while part features are etched with high precision and low tolerances.
What differentiates stainless steel from other types of steel? The metal alloy must have at least 10.5% chromium. Chromium when exposed to oxygen creates a surface oxide that makes it stronger and corrosion-resistant. Moreover, cold rolling stainless steel further increases strength and gives it a smooth shiny surface. Stainless steel is popular in many types of industrial components for a variety of reasons.
- Aesthetics - Acid etching stainless steel does not alter the natural aesthetic look and maintains a smooth scratch-free surface. This feature is especially desirable for parts such as nameplates, speaker grills, and other types of vehicle inlays.
- High Strength - With the addition of Nickel and cold working, stainless steel increases in strength. Aerospace and vehicle components will be able to withstand force and resist structural fatigue.
- Ductile and Formable - Stainless steel grades with a nickel content also make it easier to bend; great for contacts and board level shielding.
- Excellent Weldability
- Resistant to High and Low Temperatures - This is a necessary feature for the high performance in machine and vehicle parts exposed to temperature changes.
- Recyclable - At the end of a product's life cycle, stainless steel parts can be recycled to help keep costs low.
Stainless Steel Grades and Properties
There are several grades of stainless steel. Each has different properties depending on the type and amount of additional metal elements added. The two most common types used in chemical etching stainless steel are Austenitic and Martensitic.
Austenitic - (300 series) This series is the most common and makes up about 70% of commercially produced stainless steel. It is comprised of 18% chromium and 8% nickel. 304 is the most common type.
- Greater corrosion resistance
- Excellent weldability
- Excellent resistance to high temperatures
Martensitic - (400 series) This type of stainless has a higher carbon content than the 300 series, and it is added to increase strength.
- High strength
- Moderate corrosion resistant
- Heat treatable
We work with many types of stainless steel and are not limited to the above two grades. Please contact us to learn more about our full stainless steel etching capabilities.
What Are the Benefits of Etching Stainless Steel?
The popularity of stainless steel makes it a desirable metal for use in fabrication because it is easy to manufacture and has favorable properties for many industrial products.
With the chemical etching process, the metal is etched evenly without any structural deformations from the hard tooling used in stamping and punching.
Since there isn't a heat point of contact like laser cutting, the parts' metal properties remain unchanged and free from thermal deformations.
Photo etching is the only process that can guarantee the absence of burrs in the finished part.
When it comes to speed, you can't find another process that is quicker for producing a large volume of parts. Parts are etched simultaneously and there is no additional cost for the number of slots, holes, sharp edges, or other apertures.
The photo etching process is a flexible option for precision etched stainless steel components because it can etch different tempers and hardness.
Here are the benefits of metal etching stainless steel compared to other types of metal fabrication processes:
- Low setup costs - The inexpensive flexible tooling can be produced in a matter of hours compared to the expensive hard tooling with longer lead times.
- Burr and Stress-Free - Parts are free from burrs or structural deformations. The chemical etching of stainless steel maintains smooth surfaces, precision edges, and low tolerances.
- Unaltered Metal Properties - The stainless steel part will retain its temper, hardness, and functional properties.
- Complex and Intricate Designs - Metal photo etching is the fastest and most reliable method to achieve precision for smaller or numerous part features.
- Quick Prototyping - The low-cost flexible tooling makes it easy to expedite small batches for prototyping. Design changes are uncomplicated and inexpensive as well.
What Are the Applications of Stainless Steel Etching?
Stainless steel is a very versatile metal because of its strength, formability, corrosion-resistance, and smooth tarnish-free surface. The industries listed below choose stainless for these unmatched qualities.
The aerospace and automotive industries like the strength and corrosion-resistance of stainless steel for engine parts such as fuel cell plates, because they come in contact with liquids and gases and will not experience a material breakdown. Likewise, parts such as shims and gaskets must withstand heat, force, and friction for safety standards.
The smooth clean surface is an important feature for automotive speaker grills, interior inlays, and medical instruments that must be sanitized without the threat of material breakdown.
Stainless steel electronic components are stronger and lower in cost than copper and its alloys. Stainless steel step lids and EMI/RFI shielding can be plated to enhance function in many electronic products.
Below are some of the most common stainless steel parts that we etch. Contact us to see how our capabilities can enhance your stainless steel components.
Stainless Steel Aerospace Parts
bipolar fuel cell plates
Stainless Steel Automotive Parts
fuel cell plates
Stainless Steel Electronics Parts
Stainless Steel Medical Parts
mesh screens, filters, sieves