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Photochemical Machining Manufacturers and Companies

IQS Directory provides a comprehensive list of photochemical machining companies. Use our website to review and source top photochemical machining companies with roll over ads and detailed product descriptions. Find photochemical machining companies that can design, engineer, and manufacture all kinds of etched metal products to your company's specifications. Then contact the photochemical machining companies through our quick and easy request for quote form. Website links, company profile, locations, phone, product videos and product information are provided for each company. Access customer reviews and keep up to date with product news articles. Whether you are looking for chemical milling, photo etching, acid etching, or customized photochemical machining services, this is the resource for you.

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Great Lakes Engineering is a leading provider of photochemical machining services. For more than 29 years, we have committed ourselves to supplying our customers with incredible service and unmatched engineering and manufacturing expertise. Along with our photochemical machining capabilities, we also provide other etching and machining capabilities, and with our experience, we can help you choose the best method for you! For your thin foil metal part needs, contact us today!
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Our photochemical machining is extremely accurate and our photo etching removes the need for hard tooling as well as provides design flexibility. We create a number of products including masks, filters, lead frames, flat springs, strain gauges, laminations, step covers, fuel cell plates, heat sinks and much more. If you would like more information then please give us a call today!
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Since 1969, United Western Enterprises has supplied a wide range of chemically etched metal parts. We manufacture custom RFI and EMI shielding, springs, shims, contacts, covers, screens, apertures, and encoder disks. We are ready to take on even your most challenging and complex etching project, and we can satisfy all your dimensional and material needs. When it comes to precision thin metal parts, we will find a reliable, cost effective solution for you!
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As an ISO 9001:2000 certified manufacturer, VACCO Industries is your source for high quality etched metal products. With our extensive photochemical machining capabilities, we can create a wide range of industrial parts and components. Along with our patented Chemically Etched Miniature Systems (ChEMS®) and PhotoPore® screens, we manufacture many other micro-machined products, including disc filters, micro fluidic devices, fuel valves, and more. Contact us today with your metal etching needs!
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We are experts in our field and our photochemical machining is far ahead of the competition. These products are outstanding and our staff will work with you every step of the way. We are committed to your needs and if you need a specialized solution then do not hesitate to let us know. We look forward to hearing from you!
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Industry Information

Photochemical Machining

Photochemical machining, also called photo chemical etching, is an industrial etching process which uses precise exposure to light and acidic chemicals to remove material and manufacture small, complex parts. This process is a precise and economical alternative to many other metal machining techniques like stamping, laser cutting, water jet cutting, or electrical discharge machining.

The process of photochemical machining starts by creating a phototool. The phototool consists of two sheets of photographic film on which the negative images of the desired parts are printed. Once the phototool has been designed and printed, metal sheets are prepared for the etching process. The sheet metal must be cleaned thoroughly and laminated on both sides with a photo sensitive film called a photoresist. The metal can be laminated using the roller method or the wet dip method. The roller method requires the sheet metal to pass through rollers which apply laminate to both sides, while the wet dip method involves dipping the metal into a liquid film and then baking the sheet to harden the film. After lamination, the metal is placed between the two halves of the phototool and exposed to high intensity UV light which transfers the image from the phototool onto the laminated surface of the metal. Exposure to UV light hardens the exposed film. The metal must then undergo a developing process. The photoresist developer washes away the unhardened film leaving the areas to be etched exposed to the etching agent. Then the metal sheet is placed on a conveyor which passes through the etching machine which contains a series of spray nozzles above and below the conveyor. As the metal sheet travels through the machine, the nozzles spray a heated, acidic solution onto both sides of the sheet metal. When the acid comes in contact with the unprotected metal it quickly corrodes the metal away, leaving only the laminated sections intact. All that remains are the desired parts. These parts are rinsed, and the remaining lamination is removed.

Photo chemical etching offers many distinct benefits and advantages as a metal etching process. Possibly one of the most advantageous attributes of this process is its cost effectiveness. Compared with other etching and machining processes, phototooling costs are incredibly low, and phototools take substantially less time to create. Photo etching is also an excellent option for prototyping since costs are so low and tooling is so quickly created and changed. Unlike machining tools, phototools are only exposed to light which drastically reduces wear and damage to the tool, which then drastically reduces tool repair and maintenance costs. Since there is no mechanical cutting, the process does not create sharp edges, and it does not alter the physical properties of the metal. Essentially any metal or alloy can be used in this process, and it can be used effectively on materials with thicknesses between 0.0005 and 0.080 inches. For these reasons, photo etching is often used in creating precision components in the electronics and hardware industries. Products commonly created using photochemical machining include: fuel cell components, sensors, metal gaskets, shields, washers, and more.

Photochemical Machining
Photochemical Machining
Photochemical Machining
Photochemical Machining - Great Lakes Engineering, Inc.
Photochemical Machining - Lancaster Metals Science Corporation
Photochemical Machining - Lancaster Metals Science Corporation

Photochemical Machining: Metal Etching Using Photo-Reactive Maskant

Metal Etching is an umbrella term that encompasses numbers of technologies, including photochemical machining, micro-fabrication, and electro etching. If observed closely, all these processes employ the same principle to etch metal surfaces or other materials using corrosive or acidic chemicals. However, over time, they have evolved into specialized processes applied for particular components that range from glasses to chips to springs.

Here, in this article, discuss photochemical machining, which is also known as photochemical etching. During this chemical milling process, sheet metal components are machined or fabricated using etchants-materials that by the corrosive action remove material, and photo resist, a light-sensitive material. The process has its origin in photography when it was used to print photographs or for photo engraving on metal surfaces. However, the modern process emerged in the sixth decade of the 20th century; it came from the printed circuit board industry and evolved as its own industry.

Reasons for the rise of photochemical etching:

  • Photo-etched parts can be highly complex and can be produced economically in comparison to other alternatives.
  • Detailing achieved by etching is unparalleled across a variety of applications
  • Tolling involved is not very expensive and is produced easily and quickly
  • Process does not result in sharp edges or burrs
  • Parts can be fabricated in hours versus days or weeks
  • All alloys or metal with varying strength can be etched

Because of all these advantages, photo etching has become an economical alternative to other industrial processes like punching, laser and water jet cutting, stamping, and electrical discharge machining. However, it has limitations, too, as sheet-metal thickness should be between 0.013 to 2.032 mm.

Applications of Photochemical Etching

Photochemical machining is used for making a vast variety of manufacturing components, from meshes and fine filters to screens and battery grids, to fuel cell components and semiconductor motors.

Equipment Used for Photochemical Etching

During the etching process, a modern spray-etching machine is typically employed, which has a conveyor belt on which work pieces or metal sheets travel. On the belt, the parts are carried horizontally to a rigid poly vinyl chloride chamber. In the chamber, hot etchant is sprayed on the parts from a cache of nozzles installed around the track.

All the machines are designed to achieve a highly productive etch rate since work pieces are sprayed perpendicularly.

Etchants Used During the Process

Typically, aqueous ferric chloride is used as an etchant in the majority of photo-chemical etching for a number of reasons:

  • Aqueous ferric chloride is readily available and is inexpensive.
  • The solution is versatile; it can attack and dissolve metals and alloys easily.
  • Ferric chloride is environment friendly and has low toxicity in comparison to other alternatives.
  • The recycling, filtering and replenishment of ferric chloride is easy.

However, ferric nitrate is also used when non-standard materials like silver and molybdenum need to be etched.

Monitoring of Etching

During the etching process, the chemistry of etchants is important, therefore, onsite laboratory facilities are common. Etching professionals manage the production chemistry by monitoring and adjusting the chemistry.

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