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Chemical Etching of Aluminum Alloys

Photochemical etching has become a cost-effective and preferred method for fabricating thin metal parts. Aluminum has several properties that make it appealing as an etching material. It is lightweight and strong, suiting the metal for a wide range of applications. Also, it is relatively inexpensive. At United Western Enterprises Inc, we know how to etch aluminum to suit your application and ensure you benefit over other materials and processes.


Why Aluminum Etching?

Aluminum is one of Earth’s most abundant metals. Mining it can be difficult, but aluminum is easily manufactured and can be completely recycled. Aluminum is highly suited for etching because of qualities such as:


  • • Corrosion resistance
  • • Strength
  • • Malleability
  • • Thermal/electrical conductivity
  • • Ductility



Aluminum chemical etching is performed on the following common alloys:


arrow  1100

arrow  1145

arrow  3003

arrow  5051

arrow  6061

Applications for Acid Etching of Aluminum


Etched aluminum is commonly found in the automotive and aerospace industries. Etching aluminum plates is common. The process is used for manufacturing electronic components such as EMI/RFI shielding, shims, covers, lids, encoder disks, springs, and contacts. The metal can be used to create air intake grills and heater plates for aircraft. In automotive applications, aluminum dashboard surfaces, instrument dials, and covers can be machined with different textures, profiles, and even logos.


In addition, etched aluminum components can be used for small printed circuit board components, as many can be produced simultaneously using a fast, precise, and affordable process.



Aluminum Etching vs. Other Processes


Etching is an effective way to machine aluminum. Other processes, including plasma cutting, wire EDM, and laser etching of aluminum, can be more difficult, not to mention hazardous (submerging aluminum in water releases hydrogen gas, while dry cutting can release explosive fumes and airborne particulates). High heat and electrical discharges can change the properties of the material, making it brittle and prone to breaking and thermal distortion.



Advantages of Chemical Etching Aluminum


Aluminum is easily machinable and suited for producing thin metal parts in any quantity. It is available in different grades and alloys. Manufacturers can create intricate designs and select grades most suited for an application. Whether used for prototype parts or volume production, chemical etching yields burr-free parts with no heat-affected areas or surface imperfections. In addition to cutting, partial etching can be used to create patterns, textures, and even lettering and logos.



Pick UWE for Your Aluminum Photo Etching

To learn more, request a quote online or call United Western Enterprises, Inc. at 800-964-6461. We’ll help you see how our aluminum chemical etching services can work for you.