Photochemical etching, also commonly known as photo etching or milling, is a process in which fabricated sheet metal is exposed to a photoresist and etchants to machine away designated areas through corrosive means. This process came into the spotlight as an alternative for making printed circuit boards. The best photochemical etching companies partner with manufacturers to create custom thin metal parts, using this special process. This article is intended to help people new to the manufacturing space learn more about photochemical etching and why they may want to invest in this service.
Why do Experienced Manufacturers Partner with Photochemical Etching Companies?
Experienced manufacturers know that photochemical etching comes with several benefits over other milling methods that may not be as economical, pristine, or accurate. One of the reasons why photochemical etching companies are desired by top manufacturers is that this process does not create mechanical stress to the metal. This means every thin metal part maintains its properties. In addition, photochemical etching improves precision enabling parts to be as thin as .0003 inches with holes as small as .004 inches. Photochemical etching companies are also in demand because the process removes the risk of shearing deformation, burring, and ablative deformation, and it enables high part qualities which is especially useful for rapid prototyping and large-volume projects. Photochemical etching also yields more metal parts with complicated multi-dimensional features and it can allow engineers to create score lines so that parts can be folded. Finally, photochemical etching companies are valuable partners because they can keep production costs down because tooling adaptations are easy and fast, meaning design changes are a breeze to deal with.
How Much does Photochemical Etching Cost?
Clearly, every manufacturer wants to keep costs down, and for this reason alone, photochemical etching companies are commonly partnered with. The reason why photochemical etching has a cheaper price point compared to other milling processes is due to the hard fact that it allows engineers to create more complex and advanced designs with intricate features. Also, the time to do the project is faster when using photochemical etching, and the best photochemical etching companies can complete part projects within a day’s time. Finally, photochemical etching eliminates the need to do rework, which means project costs revolve around the initial process, and nothing else.
Building tools to make thin metal parts can cost a lot of money, but photochemical etching companies use their process to make delicate metal parts without this costly need, unlike stamping or punching.
Photochemical Etching Improved Product Quality
Another reason why brands partner with photochemical etching companies is that part quality is vastly improved upon. Of course, this removes other stepps (such as removing burrs) and this will save you lots of money while making the quality flawless. Photochemical etching companies also enable mass production with little to no errors, and enable millions of parts to be made quickly and very economically. Quality control can be time consuming and expensive, but considering the speed and accuracy of photochemical etching, people can complete prototypes and get the product to market before the competition can, and this will help them increase their profits.