The Design Engineer’s Guide To Photo-chemical Etching

As a precision sheet metal machining technology, photo-chemical etching (PCE) achieves exacting tolerances, is very repeatable, and in many situations is the only technology that may cost-effectively manufacture precision metal parts with the accuracy obligatory in demanding and sometimes safety-important functions.

After design engineers choose PCE as their most popular metalworking course of, it can be crucial that they absolutely appreciate not just its versatility, but also the specific points of the know-how that can have an effect on – and in many instances enhance – product design. This paper analyses what design engineers should admire to get probably the most from PCE, and benchmark the method in opposition to other metallic machining technologies.

PCE has many attributes that can stimulate innovation and ’stretch the boundaries with the inclusion of challenging product features, enhancements, complexity, and efficiency. It is important that design engineers totally exploit its potential, and micrometal (incorporating HP Etch and Etchform) advocates that its prospects view it as a product improvement accomplice – not just a sub-contract manufacturer – early within the design stage allowing OEMs to optimize the potentials that this versatile steel machining course of can supply.

General expertise attributes

Metal and sheet sizes: Photo etching may be applied to a spectrum of metals in quite a lot of thicknesses, grades, tempers and sheet sizes. Each provider can course of completely different thicknesses of metal with completely different tolerances, and when choosing a PCE accomplice to work with, it is very important interrogate precisely what capabilities they’ve.

For instance, when working with micrometal’s Etching Group the process could be utilized to skinny steel sheets starting from 10 microns to 2000 microns (0.010 mm to 2.00 mm) with a most sheet/component dimension of as much as 600 mm x 800 mm. Metals that may be processed include steel and stainless steels, nickel and nickel alloys, copper and copper alloys, tin, silver, gold, Molybdenum, aluminum. and laborious to machine metals including highly corrosive supplies such as titanium and its alloys.

Standard etching tolerances: Tolerances are a key consideration in any design and with PCE tolerances can fluctuate relying on the fabric thickness, the fabric, and the ability and experience of the PCE provider.

The micrometal Etching Group’s course of can produce intricate components with tolerances as little as ±7 microns depending upon materials and its thickness, this tolerance attainment being unique among all alternative metal fabrication technologies. Uniquely, the company makes use of a particular liquid resist system to acquire ultra-thin (2-eight micron) photoresist layers enabling a higher diploma of precision within the chemical etching process. It permits the Etching Group to achieve extremely small feature sizes of 25 microns, minimum gap diameter eighty % of the fabric thickness, and single-digit micron tolerances repeatably.

As a guide, micrometal’s Etching Group can course of stainless steel, nickel, and copper alloys up to four hundred micron thick with function sizes right down to eighty percent of material thickness and tolerances of ±10 p.c of thickness. Stainless, nickel, and copper above 400-micron thickness and other materials similar to tin, aluminum, silver, gold, molybdenum and titanium rod can have feature sizes down to 120% of fabric thickness with tolerances of ±10 percent of thickness.

Traditional PCE makes use of relatively thick dry film resist which compromises final half precision and the available tolerances, and it’s only able to realize 100-micron feature sizes and a minimum gap diameter of one hundred to 200 p.c material thickness.

In some situations, traditional metal machining applied sciences can obtain tighter tolerances, however there are limitations. For example, laser chopping can achieve accuracy to 5 percent of the metallic thickness, but it surely is limited to a minimal function size of 0.2 mm. PCE can obtain a minimum commonplace characteristic dimension of 0.1 mm. Openings below 0.050 mm are attainable.1 mm and openings under 0.050 mm are potential.

In addition, it have to be appreciated that laser chopping is a “single point” metal processing technology, which signifies that it’s normally dearer for advanced elements such as meshes, and it can not achieve the depth/engraved features vital for fluidic gadgets like gas cells and heat exchangers that are simply attained utilizing depth etching.

Burr- and stress-free machining. In relation to the flexibility to replicate the exacting accuracy and minimum characteristic measurement capabilities of PCE, stamping most likely will get the closest, but the trade-off is the stress that’s imparted within the metal when it is processed and the residual burrs which are a characteristic of press-working.

Stamped parts want pricey submit-processing, and as costly steel tooling is used to provide the components, it’s not viable for brief runs. In addition, when processing arduous metals, device wear is an issue, with expensive and time-consuming refurbishment often needed. Many flexure spring designers and designers of intricate metallic elements specify PCE as a consequence of its burr- and stress-free nature, zero software put on and speed of provide.

Unique features at no additional cost: Unique traits could be designed into products manufactured utilizing photograph etching due to the inherent edge “cusp” during the method. By controlling etch cusp a variety of profiles could be launched permitting the manufacture of sharp chopping edges, reminiscent of these used in medical blades, or conical openings, such as those used to direct fluid circulate in filtration meshes.

Low-price tooling and design iterations: For OEMs across all business sectors in search of function-wealthy, complicated and exact metallic parts and elements, PCE is now the know-how of alternative because it not solely copes properly with troublesome geometries, it also permits design engineers flexibility, facilitating the adjustment of designs right up to the purpose of manufacture.

One major issue that enables for this is the usage of digital or glass tooling, which is inexpensive to provide, and subsequently cheap to vary even as much as a few minutes before manufacturing commences. Unlike stamping, the price of digital tooling does not improve with half complexity, which stimulates innovation, as designers give attention to optimized part performance relatively than value.

For traditional steel machining technologies, it’s honest to say that elevated part complexity equals increased value, a lot of this being a product of the expensive and intricate tooling. Costs also escalate when conventional applied sciences need to cope with non-standard materials, thicknesses, and grades, none of which have any impact on the cost of PCE.

As PCE doesn’t use arduous tools, distortion and stress are eliminated. Also, parts produced are flat, with a clear surface and no burrs as the metallic are dissolved away uniformly and evenly till the specified geometries are achieved.

The micrometal firm has devised a simple to use the table that helps design engineers evaluate the sampling options available for prototypes of near-series products that can be accessed here.

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Economical prototyping: With PCE, users pay by the sheet, not by the part, which means components with totally different geometries could be processed at the identical time from a single software. The flexibility to provide many half sorts in a single manufacturing run is the important thing to the big price financial savings inherent in the method.

PCE may be utilized to virtually any metal kind whether or not gentle, hard or brittle. If you have any kind of concerns regarding where and the best ways to utilize titanium wire (Going On this site), you can contact us at our web site. Aluminum is renowned for being tough to stamp attributable to its softness, and troublesome to laser reduce as a result of its reflectivity. Equally, titanium’s hardness can prove challenging. For instance, micrometal has developed propriety processes and etching chemistries for each of these specialist materials and titanium wire is one of the few etching companies on the planet with a titanium etching facility.

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