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Chemical Etching vs. CNC Machining: What's the Difference?

May 22, 2018 7:00:00 AM By Hua Fan

Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Machining refers to computer controlled manufacturing process such as milling, grinding, and turning. Compared to CNC Machining, Chemical Etching is at a higher precision level with less cost, shorter lead time, more design flexibility, and no need for deburring

So what's the difference of CNC Machining and Chemical Etching?

This blog will review on Cost Efficiency, Lead Time, Design Complexity, and Quality/Accuracy.

(1) Cost Efficiency.

With CNC machining, it is unavoidable to invest in extra tools for different parts. This is especially expensive if the production volume is not large enough to spread the costs. Even when production volume is very large and tooling costs are spread over, it might still be more expensive than Chemical Etching, as there’s also more maintaining costs with regard to tooling. With chemical etching, on the contrary, you can produce thousands of parts without additional investment in tooling and maintenance.

(2) Lead Time.

CNC Machining requires substantial investment in tooling, which is not only expensive but also time consuming. Chemical Etching, on the other hand, doesn’t require investment in tooling, which makes it more cost effective as well as faster. Moreover, the Chemical Etching process itself is an efficient process with very short lead time.

(3) Design Flexibility.

The need of different/extra tooling for different parts makes CNC Machining not so in favor of design flexibility. Any potential change in the design will mean extra investment and tooling adjustment. Chemical Etching, however, can adjust to new design easily without extra costs.

(4) Quality/Accuracy.

Chemical Etching is a high precision micro-manufacturing technology. With Chemical Etching, a higher level of accuracy and precision can be achieved. Moreover, etched parts are completely burr and stress free while CNC machined parts most likely needs to be deburred, which brings extra costs and time.

From the above, we can see that compared to CNC Machining, Chemical Etching is at a higher precision level with less cost, shorter lead time, more design flexibility, and no need for deburring. Thus, Chemical Etching is an optimal choice for precision metal part manufacturing, regardless of prototyping or industrial production.

Interested to know more about Chemical Etching and what it can do to your next innovation? Talk to one of our engineers about your projects or read our free whitepaper on Chemical Etching



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