A step by step manufacturing process of precision thin metal parts using the photo chemical etching process.
Tooling engineers use AutoCAD software to generate a repeating pattern, from a customer file to determine how many parts will fit onto a metal sheet. The design is then printed onto two sheets of mylar film. The low-cost, flexible tooling is easily modifiable and can be stored for the life of the part.
The metal selected for the part is cleaned of any residual oils and oxides. Only RoHS and DFARS compliant metals are used.
A photoresist coating is applied on each side of the metal sheet. The laminated metal is placed between two identical copies of the photo tool. The surface is exposed to a UV light source that will harden the photoresist on the metal part design that is to remain throughout the etching process.
The sheets move through a developing machine where an alkaline solution washes away the top and bottom film on each sheet of metal that wasn't hardened during exposure.
A chemical etchant is sprayed on both sides of the metal sheet and will dissolve the bare metal leaving only the desired part design and dimensions.
The etched sheets or dropout pieces are placed in a tank full of sodium hydroxide-based solution to remove the remaining photoresist film.
The parts’ surface and dimensions are thoroughly measured using a comprehensive approach consisting of several handheld calipers and electronic magnification machines that will analyze a part's surface and tolerances before carefully packaging.