Photo etching is the most cost-effective, precise, and fastest solution for designing components out of metal. There are many advantages of photo etching over the traditional types of metal fabrication, such as punching and stamping. Read on to find out more.
Photo etching is based on digital tooling ability, which brings us to its first benefit. The dimensions of a design can be created using CAD software then plotted onto a mylar film. That allows the technician to develop a repeating pattern onto a photo tool to reduce the number of parts per sheet, thus reducing the overall designing time. Digital tooling also allows photo tooling to be produced in two hours or less. Post-plating, forming, and the production of custom parts are accomplished faster in as little as one day.
High precision machining
Photo etching on metal facilitates high precision machining. Photo etching does not impact the metal’s ductility, hardness, and grain structure, unlike other metal machining methods like laser cutting, stamping, and punching. That results in precise components. High precision machining in photo etching also allows:
- Simple production of complex geometries and fine details.
- Production of intricate designs.
- Etching of tiny bars and holes.
- Tight tolerances.
Metal remains unaltered
The traditional machining methods, including stamping and laser cutting, interfere with the metal’s properties through mechanical stress and heat. But with photo etching, the chemical structure of the metal remains intact. A chemical etchant dissolves the unwanted parts of the component. As such, there is no point of contact with hard tooling or heat.
The fact that the metal remains intact is beneficial for many industrial applications that rely on high precision, high conductivity, and low tolerance. Photo etching is a suitable solution for producing electronic parts such as electrical contacts, connectors, pins, and terminals.
Cost-effective repeatability with complex designs
Photo tooling is meant to produce as many pieces as the component design can allow. The repeatability in the photo etching process allows large productions to run at lower costs and faster when compared with the traditional machining methods. This is very important when complex designs are involved.
Parts with slots, holes and other intricate designs can be produced at no extra charges. Some companies etch company logos, part numbers, and other identification marks at no additional costs, which means that photo tooling remains the same whether for one part or more.
Burr free components
Another guarantee of chemical etching is that the final products are burr-free. Other machining processes leave burrs that can interfere with the function of the component. For instance, in the electronics industry, clean and smooth surfaces are required for electronic mating components. Burr-free components are also free from friction and heat, which ensures that the parts offer peak performance.
Therefore photo-etched parts eliminate the need for deburring processes that may be necessary for other matching methods. No stress to the metal also means that it remains physically intact.
Fast turn around
The absence of burrs, elimination of mechanical tooling and deburring requirements, and the fast speed of photo etching make it a quick manufacturing process for large-scale manufacturing and prototypes.
Photo etching is inexpensive, has a quick turnaround, enables low-cost repeatability for large-scale parts and metals remain unaltered and burr-free.