What is photochemical etching?

In the photochemical etching process, the material is cleaned and then laminated with a UV-sensitive photoresist. A photomask is created by printing the artwork as a negative onto a clear piece of film. The photomask is placed on top of the material in an exposure unit, and a vacuum is drawn to ensure contact between the photo tool and the metal plate. The plate is then exposed under UV light that allows the areas of resist that are in the clear sections of the film to be hardened. After exposure, the plate is “developed,” washing away the unexposed resist and leaving the areas to be etched unprotected.

Photochemical etching is a process that has stood the test of time and consistently delivers excellent results. It can reproduce extremely fine detail. However, it can require a big commitment of space and additional equipment to get started. One way around this is to use your existing equipment to handle the artwork portion of the process.

—Masteretch Services


Liam Dullaghan Jr.

Liam Dullaghan Jr. is the manager at Laser2Etch, an English company that aims to make chemical etching more accessible to laser engraving and sign companies. Laser2Etch is a division of Mastertech, a company Liam has been with since 1983.

View all articles by Liam Dullaghan Jr.  

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