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Author Archives: MET Manufacturing Group

  1. What To Look For in a Metal Etching Manufacturer

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    Click to ExpandWhat To Look For in a Metal Etching Manufacturer

    Metal etching also known as chemical etching or photochemical machining is a subtractive manufacturing process that removes material from metal sheets to create intricate patterns, designs, or components. It allows you to produce complex shapes or create fine details without the need for traditional machining processes, like milling or stamping. This process is designed for various industries where high precision and fine details are crucial, including electronics, aerospace, medical, and automotive.

    However, metal etchings resulting component is only as good as the manufacturer. Thus, is crucial to choose the right partner to guarantee your project’s success.

    MET Manufacturing Group prides itself on setting the industry standard for precision manufacturing since 1988. We specialize in cutting-edge photochemical etching on various metals, from high-conductivity coppers to robust spring steels. Below, we discuss key factors to look at when selecting a metal etching partner and the top reasons why MET Manufacturing Group is the best choice for businesses in various industries.

    Things To Consider When Choosing a Metal Etching Partner

    A good metal etching partner can help streamline your process. Here are several key factors to consider when making this important choice:

    1. Expertise and Experience

    Look for a company with a proven track record and a wealth of experience in metal etching. An experienced manufacturer is more likely to have encountered diverse challenges and is better equipped to handle complex projects with precision. From the quote phase to final order delivery, you should feel a sense of professionalism, support, and confidence when working with your etching provider.

    2. Technological Capabilities

    Metal etching processes have evolved with advancements in technology. A reputable manufacturer should invest in state-of-the-art equipment and technology to ensure accuracy and efficiency in the etching process. The common manufacturer of etching equipment is Chemcut Corporation, who has been manufacturing etching equipment since 1956.In addition, your etching partner should have robust inspection equipment to certify the products being produced. MET utilizes Keyence measurement technologies that allow for accurate and quick dimensional conformity.

    3. Material Compatibility

    Different projects may require the use of specific metals or alloys. Ensure that the metal etching manufacturer you choose has expertise in working with the materials relevant to your application. In addition the manufacturer should have accessibility to the right materials required along with using reputable material sources. Shoot for companies to lean on RoHS and DFARS compliant materials. The right partner should also be able to handle the rare materials required by your project or offer guidance on the best options to consider.

    4. Quality Control Measures

    Quality control ensures that each component meets the desired specifications. Inquire about the manufacturer’s quality assurance procedures, including inspection processes, testing protocols, and adherence to industry standards. A reliable metal etching company will have comprehensive steps in place to deliver consistently high-quality products. Seek a partner who is ISO 9001:2015 certified. This common industry standard displays the company complies to a standard that will allow for a positive customer experience and ensures the demands of your project will be met at all levels of delivery, from prototype to production.

    5. Customization Options and Value Added Services

    Every project is unique, and customization may be a critical factor in your decision-making process. A reputable metal etching manufacturer can offer tailored solutions to your design and size requirements. The value added services are also important as you may want to utilize a service like selective plating or forming as your project evolves. Work with a manufacturer who has the bandwidth to offer these valuable services and drive the best performance to your product.

    6. Customer Reviews and Testimonials

    Before finalizing your decision, research customer reviews and testimonials to determine the satisfaction levels of past clients. Positive feedback and success stories can provide valuable insights into the manufacturer’s reliability, professionalism, and overall capability.

    Why Choose MET Manufacturing Group

    MET Manufacturing Group is a trusted name in the industry. In addition to the above core qualities, here are unique factors that set us apart:

    Great Value on Price vs. Quality

    MET Manufacturing Group emphasizes delivering unparalleled value, striking the perfect balance between competitive pricing and uncompromised quality. This commitment ensures that clients receive exceptional metal etching services without breaking the bank.

    Dynamic and Experienced Engineering Team

    We boast a dynamic and experienced engineering team trained in the latest programs, projects, and designs. The team’s proficiency and adaptability play a crucial role in overcoming challenges, offering innovative solutions, and successfully realizing clients’ intricate design specifications. Our engineering team interfaces directly with our customers to deliver the results you expect from your project.

    Short Lead Times

    MET Manufacturing Group takes pride in its ability to provide short lead times, with a typical turnaround of 3-4 weeks. This ensures that you meet project deadlines and ensures a streamlined transition from design to the production phase.

    Fast Customer Service

    Our team understands the importance of responsive and efficient customer service throughout the project lifecycle. We are committed to fostering a seamless and transparent client experience, from providing quick quotes to prompt acknowledgments, timely invoicing, and clear customer communications. MET performs daily quote review with typical quote turnaround times of 24-48 hours.

    Convenient Midwest Location

    Situated in the heart of the Midwest, MET Manufacturing Group offers a strategic location that facilitates convenient shipping to either coast via UPS or FedEx. This ensures reliable and cost-effective product delivery while providing accessibility and ease of collaboration with clients nationwide.

    Redefine Your Metal Etching Projects With MET Manufacturing Group

    At MET Manufacturing Group, we have a rich background in serving multiple industries across the country. Our goal is to constantly exceed client expectations and industry standards in quality, cost, and delivery. If you don’t have a design in mind, we also have an Etching Design Guide to optimize your project for success. With our ISO 9001:2015 certification and American Systems Registrar accreditation, we guarantee only the best solutions for your needs.

    If you have questions about our offerings, contact us or request a quote now!

  2. Photochemical Etching for Nickel Alloy

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    Click to ExpandPhotochemical Etching for Nickel Alloy

    Photochemical etching is a precise and efficient manufacturing process producing intricate patterns and shapes on nickel alloy shim stock sheets. This manufacturing technique, also known as chemical milling or photochemical machining, involves selectively removing material from a metal sheet using a combination of photoresist masking and etching solution. The process is highly controlled and allows for complex, detailed components with tight tolerances.

    This article shares insight on the benefits of nickel alloys and why photochemical etching is ideal for creating complex and intricate patterns on nickel based materials. Also included below are common applications of photochemically etched nickel components.

    Benefits of Nickel Alloy

    Nickel alloy combines nickel and other elements, such as iron, copper, chromium, and other metals. This alloying process enhances the properties of nickel, making it suitable for a wide range of applications in multiple industries. Nickel alloys exhibit unique chemical and physical characteristics, making them particularly valuable in manufacturing and engineering.

    Commonly etched nickel alloys include – Nickel 200/201, Cupro Nickel, Nickel Silver 770, Monel, Invar, Kovar, Inconel, and Alloy 42 and 46.

    Here are some key characteristics of nickel alloys:

    • Anti-corrosion: Nickel alloys are known for their exceptional resistance to corrosion and oxidation. This property makes them suitable for harsh environments, such as chemical processing, marine applications, and aerospace.
    • High temperature resistance: Nickel alloys can maintain their mechanical properties at elevated temperatures, making them ideal for applications where exposure to high heat is a consideration.
    • Strength and toughness: Depending on the specific alloying elements, nickel alloys can exhibit high durability. This makes them valuable in applications such as industrial equipment manufacturing and machinery production.
    • Electrical conduction and magnetism: Some nickel alloys have excellent electrical conductivity and magnetic properties. These characteristics make them suitable for electrical components, electronic devices, and magnetic applications.
    • Resistance to creep and fatigue: Nickel alloys are suitable for components in high-stress environments. They often have good resistance to gradual deformation due to constant load at high temperatures and the weakening of material from cyclic loading.

    Advantages of Photochemical Etching for Nickel Alloy

    Photochemical etching for nickel alloy offers several advantages, making it a preferred method in various industries. Here are some key benefits:

    • Cost-effective: This manufacturing method helps minimize material wastage due to its selective and targeted processing. This can result in significant cost savings over traditional machining, especially for intricate and complex designs.
    • Burr- and stress-free: The resulting nickel alloy components have smooth edges without the burrs or mechanical stresses commonly associated with traditional machining methods. The finished parts typically require minimal additional processing or finishing, contributing to efficiency in the production process.
    • Complex geometries: This process provides a level of detail that may be challenging to achieve through other manufacturing methods. Thus, it is well-suited for producing components with complex geometries, including fine meshes, intricate patterns, and microscale features.
    • No Heat Affected Zone: Photochemical etching is heat and stress free, so the super alloy properties of nickel silver are not compromised during manufacturing.

    Nickel Photochemical Etching Applications

    Nickel etching finds diverse applications across various industries, delivering intricate components with exceptional accuracy:

    1. Aerospace

    Nickel photochemical etching manufactures intricate components such as turbine blades, heat exchangers, and aerospace connectors. The process’ ability to produce complex shapes and patterns ensures optimal performance in demanding aviation environments.

    2. Electronics and Microelectronics

    The process allows for the creation of precise patterns at a microscopic level, contributing to the efficiency and miniaturization of electronic devices. It is used to produce circuit boards, lead frames, and connectors.

    3. Healthcare

    Nickel photochemical etching finds applications in manufacturing medical devices such as stents, catheters, and surgical instruments. The technique enables the production of customized components, ensuring the highest standards in medical equipment.

    4. Automotive

    Photochemical etching for nickel alloys is increasingly employed in the automotive industry for manufacturing parts such as fuel cell plates, precision gaskets, and sensors. Its ability to produce intricate shapes and patterns with tight tolerances contributes to automotive systems’ overall efficiency and performance.

    5. Microfluidic Devices

    In microfluidics, where manipulating small amounts of fluids is crucial, nickel photochemical etching is utilized to create small scale channels and structures. This is particularly valuable in the development of lab-on-a-chip devices for applications in healthcare and analytical chemistry.

    Discover the MET Advantage for Nickel Photochemical Etching

    Since 1988, MET Manufacturing Group has been a trusted name in precision manufacturing. Our commitment to exceeding customer expectations in quality, delivery, and cost has made us an industry leader. We specialize in handling etching projects of all sizes, from small prototypes to large production orders.

    Our state-of-the-art processes and quality control measures guarantee that each product meets the rigorous standards set by MET Manufacturing Group. With ISO 9001:2015 and RoHS certification and accreditation from the American Systems Registrar (ASR), we are dedicated to continuous improvement and customer satisfaction.

    Contact us or request a quote today to learn how we can elevate your project to new heights!

  3. Design Guide Photochemical Etching: A Complete Guide to Engineering a Photochemically Etched Part

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    Click to ExpandDESIGN GUIDE PHOTOCHEMICAL ETCHING: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO ENGINEERING A PHOTOCHEMICALLY ETCHED PART

    Photochemical etching is a manufacturing technique that uses chemical reactions to accurately remove a material from a metal sheet. A photosensitive mask, known as photoresist, is applied to a metallic surface, protecting areas where material is to be retained. The sheet is then exposed to UV light and put through a development process which hardens the masked portions. Lastly, the unprotected metal is dissolved from the frame, leaving behind the desired part or component.

    Accurate design is crucial in etching to ensure precise material removal and achieve the intended component specifications. Any discrepancies can lead to errors in the final product, affecting its functionality and compromising the overall quality of the etched component. Here are different design principles and guidelines to guarantee optimal results:

    1. Tolerances

    Standard rules on tolerances are pivotal in achieving consistent outcomes across different manufacturing scales. In the early stages of product development, a tolerance of ±20% of the metal thickness balances precision and flexibility. This allows for iterative adjustments without compromising the feasibility of the etching process.

    Given the variable nature of prototype development, designers should be prepared to refine tolerances based on feedback from the initial runs. This adaptability ensures that subsequent iterations meet evolving design specifications. Prototyping also often involves smaller batch sizes, and the tolerance choice should align with cost considerations.

    As designs transition from prototyping to full-scale production, it is advisable to tighten tolerances. While ±20% might be suitable for prototypes, high-volume manufacturing runs benefit from stricter controls to ensure consistent part quality.

    2. Center-to-Center Dimensions

    Center-to-center dimensions refer to the distance between the central points of two adjacent features, such as holes, slots, or other geometric elements. Small pieces benefit from photochemical etching to closely match the dimensions outlined in the production design. Due to certain limitations in preparation, practical tolerances are essential to guide the manufacturing process.

    3. Hole Size and Slot Width

    As a general rule, the hole’s diameter or the slot’s width should not be less than 1.2 times the metal thickness. This guideline prevents over-etching and material distortion, which may arise if the features are too small relative to the object. Adhering to this helps maintain the mechanical strength of the metal and ensures consistent results in the etching process.

    4. Line Width

    Line widths must equal the thickness when working with metals less than 0.005” thick to prevent distortion. For objects wider than 0.005”, the guideline recommends line widths of at least 1.2 times the metal thickness. This relationship ensures that the etching process proceeds without sacrificing the structural strength of the metal and results in accurate and reliable components.

    5. Corner Radius and Hole Configurations

    The following are several considerations to enhance the reproducibility and reliability of the components:

    Inside Corner Radius

    Sharp inside corners can be challenging to achieve and may lead to material distortion or irregularities during etching. Therefore, utilize adequate inside corner radii to facilitate smoother etching and prevent stress concentrations.

    Outside Corner Radius

    Maintain sufficient outside corner radii to prevent undercutting, a phenomenon where the etchant erodes the metal beyond the desired edge. Adequate external radii contribute to a more controlled etching process, ensuring the part retains its intended shape.

    Hole Configurations

    Consider the design’s hole arrangement and configuration. Proper separation between these features prevents material bridging and ensures each hole is etched individually. This is especially important in designs with many slots or similar elements.

    6. Bevels

    Bevels in photochemical etching refer to the slope produced on the walls of holes or along the metal edge during the process. The general approach is to either etch equally from both sides or entirely from one side for simplicity. Designers can vary the depth to create more bevels on one side when a two-side carve is necessary.

    The variation is quantified by specifying the percentage of etch from each side. For example, a 90/10 number denotes 90% etching from one side and 10% from the other. Given the complexity of this operation, the indicated percentage of etch allows for some leeway. This will account for the practical challenges of getting accurate bevels.

    7. Tie-Ins or Tabs

    Tie-ins or tabs extend one or more lines from a part to the metal border. Their size and quantity are generally minimized unless specified otherwise. This practice maintains the structural integrity of the part during the etching process. In cases where the parts are exceptionally small, tabs aid in stripping photoresist or facilitating plating operations.

    Choose MET Manufacturing Group for High-Quality Etching Services

    MET Manufacturing Group is your one-stop shop for high-precision sheet metal components made possible by photochemical etching! Our expertise lies in delivering meticulously crafted metal parts, ensuring accuracy and adherence to your design specifications. What sets us apart is our comprehensive suite of value-added services, covering every aspect of your project’s needs.

    Contact us or request a quote today!

  4. Industry Spotlight: Photochemical Etching

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    Photochemical etching (also referred to as chemical milling) is a precise manufacturing process to create intricate patterns or shapes on metal sheets. It utilizes a photosensitive material (photoresist) applied to the surface before placing a photographic mask on top. This combination is exposed to UV light to undergo a chemical reaction, leaving behind the desired pattern on the metal.

    The following industries utilize the photochemical etching capabilities:

    1. Aerospace

    The aerospace industry demands precision components to ensure the safety and performance of aircraft and spacecraft. Etching is often used to manufacture complex, lightweight parts such as brackets, gears, and shims. The process also allows for the creation of thin and heat-resistant turbine blades and heat shields with precise cooling channels.

    In the satellite industry, weight reduction is important to achieving cost-effective launches and efficient in-orbit operations. Photochemical etching can create portable yet sturdy satellite components, including solar cell frames, reflectors, and waveguides. It can also produce fuel cell plates and battery parts with precise flow channels and electrical paths.

    2. Automotive

    The automotive industry utilizes chemical milling primarily in the production of vehicle parts. This technology is crucial in manufacturing gaskets, shims, and filters, ensuring precise fit and functionality in motor vehicles. It also creates compact and durable fuel injector nozzles and transmission mechanisms to enhance fuel efficiency and performance.

    3. Electronics

    The electronics industry heavily relies on etching technology for various applications. One of these is the production of printed circuit boards (PCBs). The process forms precise and intricate copper traces on PCBs, allowing for the efficient connection of electronic components. This ensures fine detail and high precision, which is crucial for the performance of gadgets and devices.

    Electronic devices also typically require shielding against electromagnetic interference (EMI) and radio frequency interference (RFI). Chemical milling creates EMI/RFI shielding components that prevent signal interference in sensitive electronics. It also fabricates heat sinks with intricate designs to maximize heat dissipation.

    4. Medical Device Manufacturing

    The medical field requires implants and prosthetic components that are biocompatible, lightweight, and precise. Chemical etching is utilized to fabricate these tools and devices, ensuring that they meet patients’ specific anatomical and functional requirements. It also enables the production of microfluidic channels and structures, making it valuable in developing diagnostic equipment.

    Medical devices are also becoming smaller, particularly for implantable sensors and remote monitoring. Photochemical etching helps fabricate tiny electronic components with complex circuits and connections. It also offers a cost-effective and efficient way to create healthcare prototypes. This facilitates customization to meet the unique needs of patients and medical applications.

    5. Military and Defense

    Chemical milling is used to produce intricate and lightweight components utilized in various defense systems assemblies, such as air force and naval equipment. It is also vital in manufacturing radar parts, electronic enclosures, and shielding materials for sensitive electronic equipment, ensuring optimal performance and protection. In addition, it enables the creation of custom tools tailored to specific military and defense needs.

    6. Telecommunications

    Photochemical etching is used in the telecommunications industry to construct modules for various communication devices and infrastructure. This entails designing connectors and contact springs used in cables to enable reliable signal transmission. This method also produces waveguides and RF/microwave parts, where precision is essential for signal integrity.

    Partner With MET Manufacturing Group for Your Etching Needs

    MET Manufacturing Group specializes in photochemical etching for thin gauge, precision sheet metal applications. Aside from the abovementioned industries, we also serve to the following industry applications:

    • Semiconductor
    • Alignment and quality systems
    • Pressure sensors
    • Prototyping
    • Custom model work
    • Custom metal art
    • Scrapping dies
    • Electrical equipment

    In addition, our team offers value-added services of forming, plating, heat treating, kitting, and specialty packing for our etched products. We pride ourselves on delivering active customer service, competitive lead times and pricing, and building long-term client partnerships.

    Contact us today or request a quote to get started with us!

  5. Unlocking Precision and Efficiency: Exploring the World of Waterjet Cutting Services

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    Waterjet cutting is a precision industrial process used to cut materials using a high-pressure water stream. The waterjet stream is directed onto the material’s surface, eroding and slicing it accurately. This method is renowned for its versatility, as it can effectively cut through metals, ceramics, glass, plastics, wood, and composites.

    Companies offering waterjet cutting services leverage advanced computer numerical control (CNC) technology to program and guide the system. This ensures consistent results while emphasizing the environmentally friendly nature of the process.

    This article will explore the basics of waterjet cutting, from the different types to the kinds of materials they can cut.

    Types of Waterjet Cutting Services and Their Applications

    Each type of waterjet cutting offers unique advantages, making this technology a versatile solution for various industries and project requirements. Here are some of the most common types and their respective applications:

    Pure Waterjet Cutting

    Pure waterjet cutting uses a high-pressure water stream to precisely cut through softer materials such as foam, rubber, paper, and certain plastics. This is ideal for projects where water does not adversely affect the object’s properties. Industries such as packaging, textiles, and gasket manufacturing often benefit from this technique due to its neatness and efficiency.

    Abrasive Waterjet Cutting

    Abrasive waterjet cutting enhances the piercing power of water by adding abrasive particles to the stream. The waterjet can then slice through harder materials such as metals, ceramics, stone, glass, and composites. This enables the waterjet to cut through tough materials while maintaining precision and minimal heat generation.

    Taper Compensation

    Taper compensation is a critical technique employed in waterjet cutting to ensure precise and consistent cuts, especially when dealing with thicker materials. When a high-pressure waterjet stream interacts with a material, it naturally diverges, leading to a tapering effect where the top of the cut is wider than the bottom. Taper compensation involves adjusting the cutting head’s angle or offset to counteract this taper, resulting in a more accurate and uniform cut. By fine-tuning the cutting parameters and accounting for the inherent tapering, manufacturers can achieve the desired dimensions and edge quality in their waterjet-cut parts, making this technique indispensable in various industries.

    Industries

    Waterjet cutting is a precision-driven manufacturing process with versatile applications across an array of industries, including:

    • Aerospace
    • Architecture
    • Automotive
    • Electronics

    Its ability to cut a wide range of materials with exceptional accuracy and reliability makes waterjet cutting an indispensable technology for meeting diverse manufacturing needs in these sectors.

    Applications

    The spectrum of products derived from waterjet cutting is broad and encompasses diverse materials, sizes, shapes, complexities, and applications. Notable examples of items benefiting from this precision cutting method include:

    • Aerospace industry: Crafting metal or composite components for use in fuselages, wings, and turbines.
    • Architectural industry: Fashioning decorative panels and exterior building facade components with intricate designs.
    • Automotive industry: Precision cutting of body and interior components to exact specifications.
    • Electronics industry: Manufacturing circuit boards, panels, and enclosures with meticulous precision.

    Choose MET Manufacturing Group for High-Quality Waterjet Cutting Services

    At MET Manufacturing Group, our waterjet capabilities extend across a diverse range of materials, showcasing our expertise in precision cutting. Our proficiency encompasses not only various metals and metal alloys but also extends to many different materials such as rubber, plastic, foam, epoxy-reinforced composites, and even the most intricate types of glass.

    Contact us today or request a quote to get started with us!

  6. PROCESS BREAKDOWN: Photochemical Etching

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    MET Manufacturing Group (MET) specializes in photochemical etching (aka photochemical milling) by using ferric chloride acid to erode away selective areas on metal and metal alloy substrates. Utilizing customer prints and designs, MET manufactures phototooling to meet customer specifications and produce high quality photo etched products. Below is a breakdown of the photochemical etching process at MET.

    Material Cutting, Preparation Processing

    MET procures etching materials from a network of domestic, USA suppliers (RoHS/DFARS compliant) at the mill direct and material service center level. MET commonly processes on s 12”x19” sheet/panel size. This “common size” profile allows MET to effectively etch the features required in most chemical milling applications. It also provides the working space to effectively nest multiple pieces or designs per sheet to offer the end user the best price per piece. MET can offer various sizes for etched panels, with a minimum of 4”X4” and a maximum of 18”X30”.

    Utilizing a unique coil identification number, MET is able to assign material to jobs at the routing phase to set up proper material assignments and begin the traceability process. Once the sheets are cut to size, MET processes the material through a unique cleaning process based on the material type. This cleaning process removes mill processing oils, light rust/scale, and optimally prepares the substrate for photoresist application.

    Material Cutting, Preparation Processing

    Photoresist Lamination

    The cleaned material is then processed through a photoresist lamination process where a light sensitive, organic resist is coated to the surface of the panel. This photoresist is designed to adhere to the working panel throughout the entire etching process and acts as a mask to deflect the etching acid.

    NOTE: this same process can be used after the etching application as a selective plating for detailed applications.

    Photoresist Lamination

    Tooling and Tooling Alignment

    Every part manufactured through MET’s photochemical etching process requires phototooling. The tooling is made up of two thin mylar sheets, a top and a bottom with silver based ink printed to provide a negative of the final etched part. The silver ink provides protection from UV light during the exposure process.

    MET utilizes alignment targets along the border of the tooling to ensure the top and bottom films are registered properly.

    Exposure

    In this process step, the aligned tooling is mated with the photoresist laminated sheet. This tool to material combination is put into a machine that exposes UV light to the panel. The areas on the panel where the silver based ink is printed will block UV from the photoresist whereas the exposed, clear mylar area will be exposed away. This is the first step in transferring the product image onto the to-be-etched panel.

    Exposure

    Development

    Development is the final etching preparation process where an alkaline solution is used to dissolve away the remaining, unwanted photoresist on the panel. Essentially the areas that are desired to be etched will fully dissolve and expose the original base material.

    The development process is critical and precise. Utilizing a conveyorized developer, a skilled operator will set the conveyor speed, measure and tweak the development chemistry levels, and hold the appropriate temperature. If the operator develops the material too soon the residual lamination will not be completely removed causing the acid etching to deflect from the intended etched features. In contrast, if developed too long the imaging of the part may be distorted or the photoresist will become brittle, causing failures at fine details or edges of the etched features.

    Development

    Etching

    MET uses a wet etching process with Ferric Chloride as the etchant. The etchant rapidly oxidizes the substrate with the intent to fully or partially remove the surface of the base base material in the intended, engineered areas. As more metal and metal alloys are introduced into the ferric chloride etching bath the bath will lose its strength. It is a common practice to etch stainless steel and carbon based alloys on a fresh bath. As the bath ages there is a switch over point where copper, brass, and nickel alloys become nominal.

    In our conveyorized Chemcut etching machines, the acid is dispersed by spray nozzles attached to an oscillating spray bar system. The acid is pressurized and sprayed onto the top and bottom of the panel as it travels down the conveyor. A highly skilled operator must be aware of the nature of the etching bath, the time and travel speed of the conveyor, and the performance of the photoresist vs the metal etching features. Most jobs require a setup sheet to be processed before final production settings are confirmed and processed.

    Etching

    Photoresist Removal

    After etching, the operator verifies conformance of the etched product or panel to the MET print. Once approved the remaining photoresist must be removed from the panel. MET uses a stripping resist chemistry that is diluted and heat controlled for optimum resist removal. The chemistry also serves as a post etching rust inhibitor to help protect the etched metals from further oxidation. After a final rinse, the products are ready to be submitted to Quality Control for final review and certification of conformance to customer print specifications.

    Photoresist Removal
    Photoresist Removal

    Thank you for following this MET photochemical etching process breakdown. MET is interested in helping you with your next project that could utilize our contract etching services.

    Please contact us at sales@met-mfg.com or call 574-293-3342!

  7. Waterjet Cutting: Specialty Materials

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    Click to ExpandWaterjet-Cutting-Specialty-Materials

    Waterjet cutting is a versatile and effective method of cutting various types of materials. It is a non-thermal technique that uses a high-pressure stream of water and abrasive particles to cut through the material. It also boasts a relatively high accuracy level and can reach tolerances as low as +/- 0.005 inches.

    This process is frequently favored over other methods for cutting specialty materials. This is attributed to its capacity to achieve high precision while producing no heat or burrs. The following materials are ideal fits for Waterjet cutting.

    1. Copper

    Copper is a highly versatile metal often used for electrical wiring, piping, and decoration. However, its ductility and softness can make cutting through using traditional methods challenging, resulting in undesirable distortion. Waterjet cutting has emerged as an effective technique to produce precise cuts with minimal waste. In addition the purity of the copper alloy is preserved due to the waterjet leaving no HAZ (Heat Affected Zone) during the manufacturing process.

    2. Brass

    Waterjet cutting is efficient for cutting brass, an alloy of copper and zinc that can easily warp when subjected to high temperatures. The technique’s cold-cutting process avoids generating heat and ensures the brass is not distorted. Moreover, waterjet cutting’s versatility enables it to easily cut brass in various shapes and thicknesses.

    3. Bronze

    Bronze — an alloy comprising copper, tin, and other metals — is a flexible material frequently used to produce sculptures, plaques, and machine components. Waterjet technology is effective because the cutting parameters can be modified to accommodate different alloys, including silicon bronze, aluminum bronze, and phosphor bronze.

    4. Titanium

    Titanium is a hard and durable metal employed in numerous industries, such as aerospace, medical, and military. Waterjet cutting is the best technique for this material because it is susceptible to heat damage and can quickly deform when subjected to high temperatures. This method also permits precise cuts with minimal thermal stress, minimizing the risk of damage and preserving the metal’s quality.

    5. Hastelloy

    Hastelloy is a high-performance alloy recognized for its corrosion, heat, and stress resistance. Due mainly to its durability and strength, this material is used in many industries, including chemical processing, marine, and aerospace. It is predominantly composed of nickel, molybdenum, and chromium, with trace amounts of iron and cobalt — making it difficult to cut using conventional methods.

    6. Inconel

    Inconel is a family of superalloys composed of nickel and chromium that exhibits exceptional resistance to high temperatures, corrosion, and oxidation. This makes it widely used in severe environments such as chemical processing, aerospace, and nuclear industries. Inconel alloys are also highly resistant to thermal and mechanical fatigue, making them ideal for turbine blades and exhaust systems.

    7. Waspaloy

    Waspaloy is a nickel-based superalloy known for its superior mechanical qualities, resistance to corrosion and oxidation, and high strength at high temperatures. It also contains the metals titanium, cobalt, chromium, and molybdenum. Furthermore, it is perfect for manufacturing high-performance fasteners, bolts, and springs due to its durability and resistance to wear.

    8. Fiber-Reinforced Plastics

    Fiber-reinforced plastics (FRP) are composite materials consisting of fibers — such as carbon, glass, or aramid — embedded in a polymer matrix. They are highly desirable due to their high strength-to-weight ratio and resistance to corrosion.

    Here are some examples of FPR:

    • Garolite (GR4): This is made from layers of paper or fabric impregnated with a phenolic resin, known for its high strength.
    • Kevlar: This is a high-strength synthetic fiber used in body armor, tires, and fiber optic cables.
    • Phenolic CE: This is an industrial laminate made from layers of paper or fabric impregnated with a phenolic resin. It has a higher level of electrical conductivity than Garolite.
    • Acrylic: This is a transparent thermoplastic material often used as a lightweight and shatter-resistant alternative to glass.

    9. 5160 and Other Blade Steel

    5160 is a high-carbon steel frequently used in the production of knives due to its hardness, durability, and ability to maintain a sharp edge. It is also ideal for outdoor areas due to its high chromium content, which provides corrosion resistance. Additional blade steel types include 1095, D2, and various 400 series stainless steels, which are appropriate for a wide range of knife-making applications.

    10. Rubber

    Rubber is a flexible and elastic material commonly used in various applications, including automotive, construction, and healthcare. Waterjet technology is ideal for cutting rubber because it can create precise cuts without compromising the material’s integrity or leaving any heat-affected zone. Examples of waterjet rubber parts include rubber seals, gaskets, o-rings, and washers.

    11. Foam

    Foam is a lightweight material made of various polymers widely used for insulation, cushioning, and packaging. Waterjet cutting is effective for foam products because it can precisely cut complex shapes without creating heat. Some examples of waterjet foam products include packaging inserts, acoustic foam for sound insulation, and inserts for carrying cases.

    12. Mica Paper

    Mica paper is a heat-resistant insulating material made by attaching mica sheets with a heat-resistant adhesive. It is extensively utilized for electrical and thermal insulation applications due to its exceptional heat resistance and chemical stability. It can be cut with a waterjet, but the cutting speed and pressure must be precisely adjusted to prevent ripping or deformation.

    Choose MET Manufacturing Group for Your Waterjet Cutting Needs

    At MET Manufacturing Group we can cut all types of metals, metal alloys and other materials like rubber, plastic, foam, epoxy-reinforced composites, and most types of glass. We also prioritize producing high-quality products qualified by our ISO 9001:2015 quality control procedures.

    Contact us today or request a quote to get started with us!

  8. Additional Benefits and Uses of Photochemical Etching

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    Photochemical etching (also known as photo etching or photochemical milling) is a process that removes selective material from metal alloy substrates ranging in thicknesses of .002” to .062”. This manufacturing technique is beneficial in producing light gauge, metal alloy parts with complex shapes that require high precision. Photochemical etching is a cost-effective alternative to traditional machining processes as the upfront tooling cost is generally less than $300 with the ability to rapid prototype.

    This article will identify and explore additional benefits and uses of photochemical etching.

    Advantages of Photochemical Etching

    The photochemical etching process provides cost-effective tooling and mass duplication of designs across an etched panel.. It also maintains the integrity of the metal’s physical and chemical characteristics, leading to smooth, pure and defect-free parts.

    High Precision Tolerance

    Photo etching is known for its precision and tight tolerances. It uses precision tooling and tightly controlled chemicals used to etch the material resulting in parts with tolerances as low as 0.001”. This high level of precision also makes it suitable for applications requiring very accurate features, material thickness, and purity of metallization.

    High Aspect Ratio

    The aspect ratio is the relationship between the thickness of a feature and its width. In photo etching, thin photoresist materials selectively expose and etch accurate patterns. This results in high aspect ratios, where very thin parts are produced relative to their width and material thickness.

    Material Versatility

    Photochemical milling is a versatile manufacturing technique that may be applied to various materials, including red metal alloys like copper, brass, phos bronze, and Beryllium Copper. In addition, etching can handle cold rolled alloys such as 1095 spring steel, stainless steel, Kovar, Inconel, and other exotic alloys.. This versatility enables manufacturers to build or test components from different metals simultaneously, eliminating the need for multiple production procedures or suppliers.

    No Secondary Finishing Required

    This etching technique leaves the component with a clean, smooth edge devoid of burrs and other defects. Thus, it significantly lowers the requirement for secondary finishing procedures like deburring, polishing, and smoothing. Consequently, this process decreases production time, additional labor, and extra material costs.It also sets up etched products to receive precious metal, nickel, or tin/lead plating to enhance the final use of the products. Many etching houses can also use their plating masking as selective plating masking as well.

    Typical Etched Products and Applications

    Photochemical etching is a flexible and effective production technique with applications in various industries, including aerospace, medical, and electronics. This makes it a valuable manufacturing solution for the following parts and components:

    Spring Contacts and Fuel Cells

    Photo etching’s precise tolerances make it possible to build spring contacts and fuel cells for the electronics industry. Spring contacts are utilized to generate electric connections between two conducting surfaces. Meanwhile, fuel cells are devices that produce electricity via a chemical reaction.

    Gaskets and Seals

    Photochemical milling allows for the efficient and precise manufacturing of intricately shaped sealing components. The function of gaskets is to block the flow of liquids, gasses, and other things between two surfaces. Similar to gaskets, seals are used to prevent the leaking of pressurized fluids.

    Filters and Screens

    Filters and screens play a vital role in the health industry by ensuring the cleanliness and safety of fluids and chemicals used in medical devices. Filters are designed to remove pollutants from liquids and gasses, such as particles, bacteria, and other contaminants. On the other hand, screens separate materials depending on their size, shape, or other characteristics.

    EMI and RFI Shielding

    Electromagnetic Interference (EMI) and Radio Frequency Interference (RFI) can pose challenges for electronic devices, as they disrupt signals and cause malfunctions. These issues are prevented by installing proper shielding around electronic components and wires. Photo etching is suitable for fabricating metal sheets, screens, and meshes that shield devices from electrical and magnetic fields.

    Printed Circuit Boards

    Printed circuit boards (PCBs) are essential for linking active and passive electronic components using pads, tracks, and lines onto a copper laminate sheet. The etching procedure in PCB production includes chemically removing the copper cladding from the substrate’s surface, leading to the fabrication of precise and high-quality boards.

    Heating Elements

    Etching sets up well for the use of heating elements such as packaging sealing, kitchen appliance heaters, and conductive mesh. 302/304 stainless steel or exotic Kanthal materials are ideal to serve as heating element base alloys.

    Encoder Disc

    Brass, Phos Bronze, or Stainless Steel encoder discs of all varieties are very popular products for photochemical etching. High precision allows for the final application to be as precise as designed for many alignment or sensory blocking applications.

    Nameplates

    Partial etching into base alloys set etching up well to make repetitive name plates, display panels, and other artistic based applications.

    Choose MET Manufacturing Group for High-Quality Photochemical Etching Services

    At MET Manufacturing Group, we specialize in photochemical milling or etching to produce precise sheet metal components! We also offer value-added services, including forming, plating, heat treating, kitting, and specialty packaging. This ensures you will not be required to work with several service providers for your project.

    Contact us at (574) 293-3342 for more information about our capabilities! You can also request a quote today.

  9. When To Choose Waterjet Cutting

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    Click to ExpandBenefits-of-silicone-rubber-injection-molding

    Waterjet cutting  utilizes a high-pressure water stream mixed with garnet abrasive to cut materials without creating a heat-affected zone. This cutting  process is highly versatile due to its ability to cut almost any industrial material — like metal alloys, red-metals such as  copper and brass,  rubbers, plastics, foams, epoxy-reinforced composites, and glass.

    Benefits of Using Waterjet Cutting

    In the fabrication industry, waterjet cutting  is beneficial considering both cost and quality  versus other 2-D cutting methods. The waterjet process offers the following benefits:

    Superior Edge Cut Quality

    Due to its high-pressure capabilities, waterjet cutting is more suitable than laser cutting for thicker, tough-to-cut materials. Waterjet cutting  can easily cut through thick, dense metal up to 8” thick by applying pressure of up  60,000 PSI.

    Waterjet cutting is also so beneficial when processing softer red metals and other materials that would melt in a laser cutting application. Materials such as copper, brass, plastic, gasket materials, and rubber are prime candidates to be processed using waterjet cutting.

    Quick Turnaround Time

    Waterjet cutting is a CNC process that allows a customer to provide a .DXF or CAD file to be waterjet cut quickly. Importing the file into our layout software allows for quick engineering to the cutting process. Lead times as little as 48 hours can be attained when working with waterjet cutting prototype applications.

    Wide Range of Compatible Materials

    CompatibleMaterials  include Hastelloy, titanium, Inconel, hardened tool steels, copper, brass, gasket materials, rubber, steel, granite, plastic, garolite, and more.

    Wide Range of Processing Ability

    Unlike traditional cutting methods, the waterjet technique provides a wide range of options in cutting materials of diverse thicknesses. As a result, this process is ideal for thicker, heavier sheet metal applications, ranging from 1/4″ to 4″ thick in steel, aluminum, or stainless steel. However, the versatility of a waterjet also allows for  thinner materials to be  processed as well, starting at .020” thickness.

    Waterjet Cutting Industry Applications

    Waterjet cutting is a versatile technology that services many different industries. Below are some examples of industries where waterjet cutting is used.

    Aerospace

    Leading aviation manufacturers use water cutting in producing components like interior cabin panels, titanium bodies for military aircraft, trimming turbine blades on jet engines, and other aluminum body parts.

    Automotive

    Waterjet cutting applications are also suitable for fabricating car and train components. This application incorporates but is not limited to the following:

    • Insulation
    • Firewall
    • Custom skid plates
    • Gaskets
    • Fiberglass body
    • Interior trim
    • Under-hood
    • Foam
    • Bumpers
    • EV Battery Housings and Components
    • Garolite spacers, shims, and fabricated panels
    • Custom plastic components
    • Rubber components
    • Acrylic shields and dividers

    Medical and Surgical

    Waterjet cutting’s ability to produce highly accurate products is ideal for fabricating medical and surgical tools. Below are a few of its typical applications in the medical sector:

    • Blanking out surgical instruments
    • Cutting artificial limb components
    • Composites

    Architectural, Design, and Artwork

    Because of its flexibility, waterjet cutting can cut almost any material, including those used in architecture, design, and arts industries.

    For glass materials:

    • Stained glass
    • Kitchen and bathroom splashbacks
    • Frameless shower screens
    • Balustrading
    • Laminated and bullet-proof glass
    • Flooring/table/wall inlay
    • Flat glass 

    For stone products:

    • Custom border tiles
    • Floor and wall inlays
    • Kitchen countertops
    • Custom stepping stones
    • Outdoor stone
    • Stone furniture

    Waterjet Cutting at MET Manufacturing

    MET Manufacturing Group produces precise-cut components for various fabrication needs We specialize in waterjet cutting and deliver products with low tooling costs and fast turnaround times. Our collective goal drives our team of experts to exceed customer expectations in quality, delivery, and cost.

    Request a quote – as we would love to work with you on your waterjet needs!

  10. How To Choose the Right Partner for Waterjet Cutting

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    Click to ExpandHOW-TO-CHOOSE-THE-RIGHT-PARTNER-FOR-WATERJET-CUTTING

    Waterjet cutting offers many manufacturing benefits, including extreme precision, quick turn from design to prototype or finished product, cost efficiency, and excellent cutting control. Because of the many benefits, Waterjet cutting has gained popularity in the manufacturing industry.

    Suppose you’re planning to use waterjet cutting to manufacture your components. In that case, you should know the key characteristics a waterjet cutting service provider should possess.

    What To Look for in Your Waterjet Cutting Service Provider

    When choosing a waterjet cutting service provider, you want to partner with a company with the experience, tools, and expertise to deliver quality products that meet your expectations. Here are the things to consider to help you qualify your prospective partner:

    Standards Proof and Certifications

    If you want to ensure that your product will meet your custom requirements, find a waterjet cutting service provider with a registered ISO 9001:2015 quality system in place. An ISO certification demonstrates that your waterjet vendor complies to the quality standards set forth by the Industrial Organization of Standardization. This will ensure that finished products meet your quality expectations.

    MET Manufacturing Group is RoHS and ISO 9001:2015 certified and offers contract manufacturing and fabrication services such as waterjet cutting.

    High Capacity Machines and Facilities

    The waterjet cutting service provider you select should have multiple, high-quality, and up-to-date machines capable of handling large projects. A company equipped with several calibrated waterjet machines in a well-maintained facility can accommodate more demanding orders while staying efficient and precise. It also helps ensure on-time deliverables since there’s a contingency plan in the event a machine breaks down or gets overloaded with work. One example is the OMAX 5555, an abrasive waterjet cutting machine ideal for shops that require equipment with a small form factor but can cut a wide range of medium-large sized sheet/alloy stock materials.

    At MET, we are equipped with OMAX proprietary software called Intelli-MAX. A translation operating system called MAKE is used at the operator level to nest and cut products. Our capabilities also enable us to cater to different engineering file types, including DXW, DWG, AI, ORD, SVG, and STEP.

    Customer Service Focus and Priority

    If you’re searching for a waterjet cutting service provider, choose one that can provide you with top-notch customer service. For instance, does the company display on-time and efficient service even during the quoting phase? Doing so proves they value their client’s time, are efficient, and can manage their work effectively. Additionally, a waterjet cutting service provider should be able to provide you with a firm lead time.

    MET Manufacturing Group takes pride in delivering quality products by thoroughly collaborating with our customers’ engineering departments. Through continuous improvement and customer interaction, we ensure that we surpass expectations when it comes to quality, delivery, and cost.

    Quality Systems

    A waterjet cutting service provider should not cut corners — choosing the fastest cutting speed to maximize profit without regard for quality often leads to a poor edge finish and parts that are potentially out of angular or surface finish tolerances. Instead, a reliable company would deliver on-time products without compromising quality. They must also have proficient quality technicians who will ensure high precision and repeatability of production. In addition, they should be capable of following your specifications accurately and providing value-added services.

    At MET, we prioritize product quality maintenance. We observe a systematic workflow with customizable steps for each new job that is thoroughly laid out in our job travelers. In addition, we offer the following value-added services:

    • Black coating
    • Forming
    • Heat treating
    • Passivation
    • Plating
    • E-coating
    • Powder coating
    • Specialty packaging
    • Laser cutting
    • Milling
    • Counter sink
    • Tapping
    • Welding
    • Burnishing

    Waterjet Cutting Services at MET

    At MET Manufacturing Group, we provide waterjet cutting services alongside photochemical etching and other popular value-added services. Our substrate cutting capabilities include all metals and metal alloys. We also process rubbers, plastics, foams, epoxy-reinforced composites, and all types of glass except tempered glass.

    MET utilizes the OMAX 5555 with a 4’7″ x 4’7″ cutting area and a 6’8″ x 5’5″ table loading size. We also have the OMAX 55100 with an 8’4″ x 4’7″ cutting area and a 10’6″ x 120”  table loading size. In addition, our OMAX waterjets support a wide variety of compatible CAD files that work with its proprietary Intelli-MAX software. These files include DXF, DWG, AI, ORD, SVG, and STEP files.

    Get Exceptional-Quality Waterjet Cutting Services

    Here at MET, we make it a priority to produce high-quality products that are qualified by our ISO 9001:2015 quality control procedures

    Partner with MET by requesting a quote today!