Photochemical Etching Process
The first step in any etching process is creation of tooling specially designed with the parameters of etching in mind. We also have an Etching Design Guide available for your use. This can be created from a variety of file types and allows us to produce an exact recreation of your part. This tooling looks very much like a black and white film negative. Once tooling has been created, an almost infinite amount of parts can be produced, saving costs from normal tooling wear in other processes.
Next we start with a selection of high quality metals to meet any specifications needed for the part. Then we thoroughly clean the metal, making it free of any oils or contaminates.
We then apply a light sensitive photoresist to the plate using a hot lamination process to ensure proper adhesion.
After lamination, the plate is ready for imaging. The tooling and plate are then exposed to high intensity UV lights. This sets the laminate in areas according to the tooling. This process ensures an exact copy every time.
The plate is now ready for etching. We use specialized machinery to etch any areas of exposed metal, leaving just your part. This is done in a controlled environment, with in-process operator quality checks to assure the final part matches your exact specifications.
Quality Control checks that all dimensions and specifications are met, providing the appropriate documentation and/or any additional testing reports required.
Tooling consists of a high quality image, printed by a photoplotter to a Mylar sheet using an extremely dense black silver ink. This allows us to create an exact replication of your drawing. Not sure where to start with your drawing? We have an Etching Design Guide available to help clarify the many parameters involved in determining etching tolerances.
From this one tool we can create an almost limitless amount of parts. The tooling can be quickly printed, easily replaced, and doesn’t wear out, which makes it very cost effective. Our tooling can cost 10% of other methods such as die cutting and stamping. We can also produce multiple, distinct parts on a plate using one tool. Our customers find this helpful when prototyping or for multiple part assemblies.
Advantages of Photochemical Etching
Apply the advantages of Photochemical Etching technology to your products.
Low Cost Tooling
Other processes require extensive manual and mechanical techniques. The chemical machining tooling is printed on a high precision imagesetter which increases accuracy and reduces tooling costs to as little as 10% of other methods.
Because of the process, turnaround time is very short. Small volume and simple parts can be produced in two to five days. Larger volume and more complex parts are generally delivered in two to four weeks.
Because no mechanical forces are applied to the metal, the photochemical machining process does not affect the hardness, grain structure, or ductility of metals.
Several modifications can be made during the prototype development of parts. Dimension changes can be made by the designer at a minimum cost. We can also produce tooling with multiple parts on one plate, this can help with prototype samples.
Because of the acid etching of the metal, there are no burrs produced in the photochemical machining process. MET can produce parts in any metal temper in thickness from foil to .062″.
Step and Repeat of Design
Patterns can be reproduced several times on a panel, thus reducing the cost and ensuring accuracy.
Whether it’s a small prototype run, a large production order or a single personally designed piece of art we can handle it. We work with manufacturers and companies large and small to meet the needs of a wide variety of customers. Shipping products to customers anywhere from right here in Indiana to Israel or India has given us the experience needed to cover a range of needs.
We can work with a very wide variety of metals. From high conductivity coppers to strong spring steels. If you have questions about the options available for your project feel free to ask. Some of the metals we stock include:
- Beryllium Copper
- Phosphorus Bronze
- Mu Shielding Metals
- Nickel Silver
- Cold Rolled Steel & Tool Steel
- Stainless Steel
Products We Produce
MET Manufacturing Group has created a wide variety of parts for many applications. Here are some typical products we produce for clients:
- Battery Connectors
- Base Plates
- Braille Plates
- EMI/RFI Shields
- Encoder Discs
- Filters, Screen & Mesh
- Ground Planes
- Lead Frames
> See our Blog on, “Uses and Benefits of Photochemical Etching.”
Not sure where to start?
Etching Design Guide
See our illustrated Etching Design Guide for design tips and more information about the capabilities of photochemical etching