As an alternative to laser cutting, photo etching—also known as photochemical milling—is frequently used to produce sheet metal components. The earliest instances of photochemical etching services and procedures can be found in the history of the circuit board industry. Since its inception in 1960, it has gained popularity, and this trend has persisted. This company was established to work with materials with thicknesses ranging from 0.0005 to 0.080 inches. In addition to inches, it can handle metals with a thickness of 0.013 to 2.032 millimeters. It can also be made of silver, nickel, brass, steel, aluminum, and brass. In addition to thin metal components, photo etching can bake things like jewelry, heat sinks, sensors, and springs.
The photo etching procedure includes the following;
- Photo tool Design/CAD design
Most clients typically want something unique, so they are generally advised to present their designs so that the company can come up with a photo tool. You can send your design via email, and the company will convert the file into a working prototype which will be used to make the final product. At this stage, you can send several designs, and the technicians will be able to redesign your product to fit your liking.
- Metal selection and prep
After gathering the designs the client wants, the following steps are to choose the metals needed. The most common metals used are; aluminium alloys, nickel alloys and stainless steel. Once you have selected the best metal, the next step is to prepare the metals for the chemical etching process. The metal is cut into sheets and washed to remove oil, grease and oxidants.
- Photoresist coating
A photosensitive material is applied to the sheets you created. This is done by a unique matching found in the technician’s industry. The material helps with the removal of the photo-etching coating present on the sheets. Moreover, it makes the metal-cutting process simple.
- UV exposure
Once the sheets have been coated, they are placed into an exposure unit. In this process, the shits are placed between two pieces of film that have the client’s design. The sheet is then susceptible to UV light on both sides. Once the light hits the resistor, it makes it hard, and the areas that access light remain soft.
In the upshot stage, the soft debris is washed away, leaving the hard resist. Once the soft debris is cleaned off thoroughly, you are left with the exposed fabric that will get dissolved by the heated etchant. The places with the hard debris will be safeguarded from the etchant and become the parts needed.
- Chemical etching
The etching procedure uses a range of etchants depending on the base fabric used. Make sure the material you are using matches the chemicals required, or else the whole process will be a failure.
The photo etching process explained above is quite detailed, and when you want to come up with a good product for your client, you need to look into the methods we discussed above.