Photo Etching Manufacturers and Companies

IQS Directory provides an extensive list of photo etching companies and suppliers. Utilize our website to review and source photo etching companies with our easy-to-use features which allow you to locate photo etching companies that will provide photo etching services for your exact specifications. Our request for quote forms make it easy to connect with leading photo etching companies. View company profiles, website links, locations, phone number, product videos, customer reviews, product specific news articles and other production information. We are a leading manufacturer directory who will connect you with the right companies whether you are looking for photo chemical etchings, stainless steel photo etchings, or laser photo etching.

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  • VACCO Industries: Outstanding Photo Etching since 1954

    Photo Etching VACCO Industries is a provider of photo etching services for a wide range of industries with experiences dating back to 1954. Located in St. Louis, MO our company is ISO 9001:2000, AS9100 certified and FDA registered. We offer solutions for markets including: automotive, medical, fiber, electronic, printing, avionic, industrial manufacturing and much more. Read More......

  • Photo Etching vs. Chemical Etching

    Perhaps the most productive way of etching metals it through photo etching. In many ways it is similar to chemical etching, but there are some major differences in the process. This is mainly how the coating applied to the metal is formed into the correct pattern. Both are good alternatives to mechanical etching, and both have their benefits. In chemical etching, the coating is applied and then must be cut. For the pieces that are to be treated the coating must then be removed. Once the coating is removed, the...

  • Photofabrication, Not for Face Blankets

    Before learning about photofabrication, if I had to guess what it was, I would go with printing photos onto fabrics. In other words, making pictures on blankets, pillows or quilts, items like that. Pictures seem to be put on everything recently; they even make face cakes now! But this is not what photofabrication is. Photofabrication is a much more interesting technique used to cut or engrave metal parts for different industries. While the process can be used, and often is used, by artists to put designs or pictures onto the...

  • Etching Methods

    Metal etching dates back to as early as the 15th Century when it was used in Europe to decorate armor and weaponry as well as cups and plates. Today it has many applications, and not just in terms of artistry and d cor. It is used in the production of circuit boards and semiconductor fabrication; and in the aerospace industry, it is used to extract shallow layers of steel or aluminum from large portions of aircrafts. Clearly metal etching is valuable in a variety of industries and there are also...

Industry Information

Photo Etching

Photo etching, or photo engraving, is a chemical milling process used to fabricate thin gauge precision metal parts. It uses a photoresist material instead of tape or elastomer for masking purposes. The process of photo etching can be used on virtually any commercial metal including aluminum, copper, molybdenum, steel and brass, but is limited to a thickness range from .001” to 0.080” for maximum effectiveness.

The photo etching process begins with the treatment of whatever part or sheet that is intended for etching. The part or sheet requiring acid etching is cleaned thoroughly and coated, or laminated, with a UV-sensitive photoresist. This is then developed through strategic exposure to light. The photoresist develops and hardens in the desired pattern or shape. The chemical reagent is then applied to the entire part. It can be applied using spray nozzles to further the efficiency of the process. The chemical washes away the unexposed masking layer, allowing contact with the parts of the metal part that are to be etched. The developed and hardened areas of the photoresist however protect certain areas of the metal part from corroding. The most common chemical used in the process of photo chemical milling is ferric chloride dissolved in hydrochloric acid. The etchant is left on the metal part for as long as is required to achieve the desired depth of cut and then is stripped off together with the remaining developed photoresist to reveal the etched part. The part can be re-cleaned and polished and any irregularities can be burnished until the part is completely finished.

Parts manufactured with photo etching can be sized from .020” in diameter to 24” x 60”. The benefits of photo etching compared to standard chemical milling or manual engraving are substantial. The photoresist works a dual purpose of both protecting the metal where it is not to be etched, but also revealing the area to be exposed. This feature saves time in the manufacturing process. Chemical milling requires parts of the masking to be cut and removed which can be a tricky process and can result in material wastage if not properly implemented. With photo engraving, or etching, the surface merely needs to be exposed to a pattern of targeted light and then exposed to the chemical reagent and rinsed. Tooling costs and maintenance remain relatively low, and processing times for completed parts are quick. Photo etching allows for photos or much more complex images to be engraved rather inexpensively, and is often the only method which allows for very intricate designs to be etched in metal sheets, and parts or components machined using this method typically have very high tolerances and precise shapes. Photo etching can be a cost-effective and time saving alternative for many applications instead of laser or water-jet cutting, stamping or wire electrical discharge machining.

Photo Etching
Photo Etching
Photo Etching - VACCO Industries, Inc.
Photo Etching - VACCO Industries, Inc.

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