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What is chemical etching? How does chemical etching work? The ultimate article of chemical etching

Mar 14, 2017 7:00:00 AM By Hua Fan

Chemical etching is a highly accurate manufacturing process used to produce high precision metal parts. It is a manufacturing method that is also being referred to as Photo etching, Electro-chemical Etching, among others. 

What is Chemical Etching?

Chemical etching is a high precision subtractive manufacturing process that uses baths of temperature regulated etching chemicals to selectively remove material to produce high precision metal parts in any desired shape. 

Compared to other micro manufacturing techniques, such as Stamping, EDM, CNC, Laser Cutting, and Water Jetting, Chemical Etching is more cost efficient with shorter lead time, more design flexibility, and no need for deburring. It is an optimal choice for precision metal part manufacturing, regardless of prototyping or industrial production.

To learn more about technical details of Chemical Etching, download the Whitepaper Chemical Etching here


How does Chemical Etching work? The Chemical Etching process explained

The Chemical Etching process can be concluded in a series of steps including Cleaning, Laminating, Exposing, Developing, Etching, and Stripping, after which rigorous inspection is automatically carried out on all components.

A sheet of desired material, called a substrate, is first laminated with a layer of light-sensitive resist. The photo resist is then selectively exposed to UV light and developed to obtain a positive image of the product. The metallic product is obtained after exposing the patterned substrate to an etching solution, which selectively removes the unprotected parts from the substrate. Every step is performed at extremely well controlled operating conditions to assure the best possible end result. 

See below a 3D animated video of the Chemical Etching processTo learn more about detailed process of Chemical Etching, download the Whitepaper Chemical Etching here

Why using Chemical Etching? Benefits of Chemical Etching

Chemical etching is highly suitable when you want to create complex, multi-layer, high-precision metal parts. Tolerance on etched features is typically +/- 10%. Example: when a part of 200 μm is chemically etched, deviation can be up to 20 μm (0,02 mm). Chemical etching is especially suitable when round holes, sharp edges and straight or profiled edges are desired. 

Compared to ‘traditional’ machining processes such as CNC Machining, Electro Discharge Machining(EDM), Stamping, Pressing, Wire Erosion and even more ‘contemporary’ processes such as Laser Cutting, chemical etching provides you with an extremely competitive alternative from prototyping to large scale production. This is because of chemical etching’s flexible tooling and scalability. Rapid prototypes can be produced from your drawings in a matter of days.

Chemical Etching Materials: What can be Etched?

The chemical etching process is ideally suited to a wide range of materials. Almost any metal can be produced. These include (but are not limited to):

  • Stainless Steels: Wide Range of Austenitic, Ferritic and Martensitic Stainless Steels
  • Mild Steel, Carbon Steel, Tool Steel, Spring Steel
  • Aluminium: Including Aircraft/Aerospace grades
  • Molybdenum
  • Nickel Alloys: Inconels, Mu-Metal, Alloy 42 (Nilo 42), Invar
  • Copper: Including C110 and C101 (Oxygen Free)
  • Brass, Phosphor Bronze, Beryllium Copper, Nickel Silver
  • Many other materials – please call us to discuss your needs

Chemical Etching Products: Applications of Chemical Etching

Widely used across a range of  industries, Chemical Etching could be the answer to your precision metal part needs. Complex, stress-free, burr-free components can be produced from ideas into reality in a matter of days.

See below typical applications Chemical Etching across industries:

Electronics & Semiconductor



To learn more about Chemical Etching, download our Whitepaper here:


If you’re curious about whether your next micro-precision metal part can be created with chemical etching (or another technique, like electroforming), you can request a custom prototype. Our engineering team will contact you to discuss the parameters of your product, so that we can design a perfect solution together. Don’t hesitate to reach out — we’re here to help!

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