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

May 8, 2018 7:00:00 AM By Hua Fan

Electrical Discharge Machining (EDM), also known as spark machining, burning, die sinking, wire burning, or wire erosion, is a manufacturing process whereby a desired shape is obtained by removing materials with electrical discharges (sparks). Compared to EDM, Chemical Etching features less cost, shorter lead time, more design flexibility, more material choices, and better component quality.

So, what's the difference of EDM and Chemical Etching?

See below the detailed differences of EDM and Chemical Etching in four aspects: Cost Efficiency, Lead Time, Flexibility, and Accuracy.

(1) Cost Efficiency.

When production volume is small or it is only for prototyping, there’s no significant difference regarding cost-effectiveness between Chemical Etching and EDM; when it is industrial scale production, however, Chemical Etching is far more cost effective.

(2) Lead Time.

Lead time of Chemical Etching and that of EDM are at a similar level. For large volume production, Chemical Etching may have some advantage over EDM in lead time.

(3) Design Flexibility.

EDM is limited to electrically conductive metals and alloys since the process is dependent on electrical current. Chemical Etching, on the other hand, can work with almost all metals. This allows for more design flexibility regarding material choices.

(4) Quality/Precision.

Compared to Chemical Etching which has no effect on material properties, EDM can cause heat distortion because of its use of high-temperature electrical current. Besides, micro burring, tempering, and structural changes may also occur.

Compared to EDM, Chemical Etching is obviously more advantageous with less cost, shorter lead time, more design flexibility, more material choices, and better component quality.

To learn more about Chemical Etching and how it can contribute to your next R&D project, download our free Whitepaper Chemical Etching here:


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