Photo Etching

Precision Photo Chemical Machining Experts

PMA PHOTOMETALS is a leading photo chemical machining firm in North America, which means we produce thin metal parts to tight tolerances and to our customers’ exact specifications.

Photo Chemical Machining, also known as Photo Chemical Milling, Photo Etching, Chem Milling and Photofabrication plays a valuable role world-wide in the production of precision parts, tooling, equipment labeling, signage, and decorative items.

Photo Chemical Machining Process

Design & Artwork Generation & Phototool Production

A design or artwork is created using a computer-aided design.  Using a photoplotter to expose photographic film based upon a computer-aided design, a master image is made, registered, and a double sided phototool is created for production.

Metal Preparation

Before coating the metal with photoresist, the metal is thoroughly cleaned to remove all dirt, rust, greases and oils to achieve adhesion to the photoresist coating.

Photoresist Coating

Photoresists are UV light-sensitive polymers that may be applied to the metal as a liquid by dip coating, flowing, roller-coating or electrophoresis.  Dry film photoresists are applied by hot roller lamination.

Photoresist Processing

The coating of the metal sheet with photoresist sensitizes it.  When this sensitized metal is put into the double-sided phototool and is exposed to UV light on both sides, an image is formed in the photoresist.  This is then developed in a liquid formulation to form an adherent, durable image on both sides of the metal.

Etching

The coating of the metal sheet with photoresist sensitizes it.  When this sensitized metal is put into the double-sided phototool and is exposed to UV light on both sides, an image is formed in the photoresist.  This is then developed in a liquid formulation to form an adherent, durable image on both sides of the metal.

Stripping & Inspection

The final process of photo chemical machining is to strip off the resist, ensure that the metal is clean and that the dimensional specifications requested have been satisfied.

PHOTO CHEMICAL MACHINING BENEFITS

Low Cost Tooling

All tooling is created via computer-aided design in a relatively short time without time consuming mechanical processes involved.  In the unlikely event of the tooling “wearing out”, replacement costs are minimal.

Low Cost Modification

Photo Chemical Machining allows the engineer or designer to carry out practical experiments at a minimum cost.  Short runs are possible ensuring cost effective improvements are easy to implement.

Prototype to Production

Photo Chemical Machining can be used to make one or a million parts, with the same tooling used every time.  This allows the engineer or designer to develop their concept from prototype to pilot to full production quickly and easily.

Metal Properties Unaffected

Photo Chemical Machining carries the unique advantages of leaving the internal structure of the metal unchanged.  Neither does it affect the properties of the metal with regard to hardness, grain structure, or ductility of the metal.

Burr Free

Some processes leave finished parts with a burr which is detrimental to the functioning of the parts.  Photo Chemical Machining produces burr free components, thus removing the need for costly time-consuming de-burring activities.

Identification Marks

Company logos, part numbers, even serialization or other identifying marks can easily be etched into the surface during manufacture at no additional cost.

Photo chemical machining is often a superior alternative to other popular manufacturing processes such as stamping, punching, EDM production and laser or waterjet cutting and PMA PHOTOMETALS are the experts you need to produce your project in a timely manner and at a fair price.  Request a quote on photo chemical machining for your project.