What are Photo Etching Services and Who are they For?

Photo etching, also known as photo chemical machining, is a chemical milling process that is a popular alternative to laser cutting. It is used to fabricate metal components that will be used in product development. Photo etching is also an alternative to waterjet cutting, metal stamping and electric discharge machining. When searching for a company that offers photo etching services, it is critical to ensure they hold the right certifications, have a skilled engineering team, and have a large facility with all the right metals and machines to get everything done under one roof.

What Kind of Customers and Industries Regularly Invest in Photo Etching Services?

Engineering teams, product developers, and leadership teams in industrial industries make up the majority of the customer base for photo etching services. Here are some of the most common products that require photo etching services by the leading provider, United Western Enterprises:

  • Metal seals
  • Metal gaskets
  • Sesors
  • Fine meshes and screens
  • Heat sinks
  • Flexible heating elements
  • Springs
  • Jewelry
  • EMI / RFI shields
  • Electrical contacts

These are just some of the products and components that require photo etching services, but there are many more, and it is key to partner with the right photo etching service provider to ensure quality is maintained.

Why do Companies Choose Photo Etching Services?

Parts that are produced using photo etching services are usually completed more economically and accurately compared to using other engineering methods. The process, if done by a high-quality photo etching service provider, can be done more quickly meaning that organizations investing in the service can rest assured that their primary deadline will be met. Companies also invest in photo etching services because it creates very fine, tiny, intricate parts with tolerances as low as ± .01 mm which would otherwise be impossible to develop with techniques like die-cutting, water-jet cutting, punching, laser cutting, and all the other methods.

How is Photo Etching Performed?

Photo etching puts part dimensions onto a coated material that is photo-resistant. Then it is developed, etched and what you get is the desired part. This is a special process that even enables engineers to produce parts that are thinner than a human hair, with microscopic details, when required. No other process can produce these delicate parts making photo etching a highly sought after product for many manufacturers.

Why is the Photo Etching Process Better than Other Milling Techniques

Photo etching, also known as chemical etching, comes with a score of benefits that milling techniques simply don’t offer. Aside from not being as accurate or economical as photo etching, here are some common problems that go hand in hand with other milling techniques. First of all, mechanical stress can occur, but with photo etching services there is zero introduction of any mechanical stress sources, as each part holds on to its mechanical properties in the selected metal or alloy.

Other milling techniques, unlike photo etching, can dissolve needed metals through a chemical reaction. Shearing deformation, burring, and ablative deformation can also result from other milling techniques, but not when companies invest in photo etching services, as parts are produced to perfection. Photo etching as opposed to other milling techniques also enables high quantities in parts. Parts can be produced in massive volumes and therefore go into production with little notice and this enables greater internal flexibility. Greater precision is also possible when using photo etching because it can be used on metals as thin as .0003 inches, and holes can be cut out as tiny as .004 inches. Finally, photo etching, unlike other milling processes, can enable a higher degree of part complexity. Photo chemical etching allows engineers to yield parts with complex multi-dimensional accoutrements and create score lines so these parts can be folded.

Photo Etching Enables Jewelry Makers and Industrial Product Developers Better Products, and Improved Internal Efficiency

Because photo etching has capabilities that simply produce higher quality, more intricate parts in a speedy process with no error, jewelry designers and industrialists can get their product to market faster, and internal teams have more freedom to branch out and lend assistance in other areas of operations to improve efficiency. In addition, the cost-saving benefits can be reinvested into product development or in other sectors of the business. Photo etching isn’t just a better milling process, it also saves you time and money making it a no brainer.

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