Chemical Milling or Photo etching is a long established manufacturing process for the production of high precision fine gauge sheet metal components. The terminology is difficult to standardise due to the worldwide development and refinement of the process, with different regions using different names. Although Etch Tech call the process Chemical Milling, the process is also known as :- Photo Etching, Photochemical Milling, Photochemical Machining, Photo Milling, Photo fabrication, PCM, Chemical Etching, Acid etching or Chemical Blanking (widely used in the USA). Although the terminology varies considerably, the process is fundamentally the same which ever name is your preference.
The Chemical Milling process is used as a method to produce thin (up to 3mm thick) metal components in a variety of ferrous and non-ferrous metals. These components which previously would have been manufactured by conventional machining or blanking operations are produced using acids to dissolve away the unwanted material, leaving you with the exact shape and size of your finished components.
The Chemical Milling process offers many advantages over traditional machining or stamping methods. In addition to low cost and rapidly manufactured tooling, Chemically Milled components are free from mechanical stresses and burrs (stress free, burr free). By the nature of the process they are also free from burnt edges or processing residue (dross).
Chemical Milling is the ideal process to produce Low Cost Complex Shapes. The financial advantages are two fold in terms of both tooling costs and component manufacture. Complex shapes are produced by the same process as simple shims. Because the master tool is generated by computer graphics, there are no additional processing costs for even the most complex of profiles or complicated hole arrays.
Due to the nature of its production Low Cost Tooling and Design Modifications are standard from Etch Tech. Tooling consists of a set of precision photographic negatives, produced on the industries best design and drafting programs. Once drawn and QA approved, they are stored on our dedicated server and available for printing at any time. As well as being very efficient, it gives you the added advantage of being able to modify your component at any time, without expensive tooling modification charges. Unlike hard tooling methods, the existing tooling does not have to be decommissioned in order to make modifications. Your production schedule is not at risk in any way whilst your modifications are implemented.
An advantage which is often overlooked is the Part Marking and Low Cost Forming options. The Chemical Milling process allows surface detail to be etched into one or both sides of the component at the time of manufacture. Your company logo, part numbers, address or even a picture can be permanently etched at your desired location. The same technique is utilised to accurately inscribe lines on the surface to allow parts to be hand folded without the need for form tooling, a process which is widely used to form EMC/RFI screening cans.
Main Advantages Include:
- Rapid manufacturing process (standard lead time 5 working days)
- Complex profiles, burr and stress free components
- Ideal for prototype and production volumes
- Design changes and modifications rapidly and economically produced
- Half etched fold lines for part marking and cost effective forming
Etch Tech Ltd is located in Alconbury near Peterborough. The manufacturing facility has easy and quick access to the UK motorway network, as well as the major UK ports, airports and cities and is within easy reach of The Cambridge Technology Centres. Our location has proven to be one of the keys in our ability to ensure a fast response to our customers' requirements.
Typical Market Sectors
Etch Tech serve a broad customer base, from sole traders through to OEM's including tiered supply chain routes. Our customer profile portfolio is not limited to industry, we are also happy to serve the retail and private sectors. Etch Tech Ltd can offer assistance on any aspect of your project either by phone or on location. Your needs are our Business.