Using a laser to create the mask is one of the simplest and easiest ways to get into chemical etching. This process has become more refined over recent years, and it’s now possible to achieve results on par with dry film, crucially matching both the level of depth and detail.
The material is spray-coated with a laser engravable etch resist, which is then cured in an oven for 15 minutes at 150 F. Once dry, the material is ready to engrave. The laser removes the resist layer, exposing the bare metal underneath, to create the mask. The material is then ready to etch.
This process is compatible with both CO2 and fiber laser wavelengths, although settings will vary from system to system. This process is a good option for short- to medium-sized runs and for producing serialized and variable data products. It’s also a great way to chemically etch objects that would be difficult to process using dry film, which is typically restricted to flat items.