Your Products Can Be Burr Free When You Invest in Photo Chemical Etching

March 2023

When using metal fabrication machining, there is always going to be a looming threat of troublesome deformations like burrs that can alter a metal part’s structure or cause glaring imperfections. There are several types of metal fabrication techniques, but only one truly eliminates the risk of burrs. Some of the metal fabrication processes that are commonly used include:

  • Wire EDM
  • Stamping
  • Laser cutting
  • Photo chemical etching

Wire EDM generally doesn’t leave any burrs behind because it doesn’t involve a wheel or saw teeth, but this method is not completely protected from causing the occasional burr.

With stamping, the downward stress that’s applied when the edge of metal material is being sheared can cause a fracture that’s commonly known in our industry as “stamping burrs.” These can form when the metal has experienced its maximum strength on a cut location and splits as a result, creating an angle that can deform the thin metal part’s dimensions. When laser cutting is utilized, gasses are involved in the cutting process aimed at removing any molten metal from the part. In some cases, metals in their molten state can become stuck to the metal piece’s edges, and burrs may form on this part during the laser cutting execution.

When it comes to manufacturing thin metal parts, investing in the best photo chemical etching services to avoid burrs is a safe road to take, as this is the only metal fabrication process that won’t present the risk of burrs. No heavy pressure or extreme temperatures are used in photo chemical etching; a photoresist is used in this process to protect the portions of the wanted material, and the rest is gently dissolved away. As a result, the risk for encountering those pesky burrs is completely eliminated.

Photo Chemical Etching Doesn’t Just Eliminate Burrs, It’s Low-Cost

Compared to other metal fabrication techniques, photo chemical etching (also known as photo etching) is capable of creating very simple designs, as well as highly complex designs, by using an acid to etch the desired component. Even though photo etching is a multi-step process, it is one that’s more affordable than other alternatives, and it can easily be reproduced at large volumes. In addition, redesigns or changes to the design can be implemented very easily in the event your internal team determines the need for change. When initiated, photo chemical etching relies on a photosensitive material to place images onto the metal sheet. Then a chemical dissolves the unwanted metal parts, leaving manufacturers only with the desired part shape. In addition, photo chemical etching at United Western Enterprises uses an eight-step process to ensure the absence of burrs or other deformities.

What Are the Eight Steps of Photo Etching to Eliminate Burrs?

United Western Enterprises is a leading US provider of photo chemical etching services, known for our ingenuity, capabilities, and our stringent eight-step process to ensure there are no burrs or any abnormalities in our customer’s thin metal parts. These steps include the following:

  • Phototool Design / CAD Design – The process begins by our customers sending us a .DWG or .DXF file, or in some cases, a drawing. We then analyze the design and create a phototool. Then the file is converted into a working protocol that our technicians are able to use throughout the remaining steps to create the final part. If required, redesigns or adjustments can be made in a fast, cost-effective manner because our photo chemical etching technicians are the best in the industry and know how to make sudden changes on the fly.
  • Metal Selection and Preparation – Metals to be used in making the parts are selected. Common materials used in metal fabrication include stainless steel, copper alloys, nickel alloys, or aluminum alloys. Before the photo chemical etching process takes place, the metal is cut into thin sheets so that it can be processed.
  • Photoresist Coating – Once the sheet has been cut, the photoresist is applied to the metal sheet using a special coating machine located on site, as the photoresist chemical is sensitive to light. The coating will enable photo etching to take place on the metal sheet that needs to be eliminated, while shielding the metal that’s to be used in the part design.
  • UV Exposure – Once the photoresist coat is applied, the sheet goes into an exposure unit placed between two pieces of film that have been predicated on the customer’s designs. The sheet is then exposed to UV light on both sides, making the resist hard, and the areas protected from the light remain soft.
  • Development – The soft resist is cleared away leaving only the hard resist behind. The exposed material dissolved away, and the regions with hard resist will be protected from the etchant.
  • Chemical Etching – In the etching process a wide range of etchants are used, and the exact ones will be determined according to the part material. Using the right chemicals with the correct metals ensures a more effective and flawless machining process, and this helps to eliminate burrs.
  • Photoresist Striping – The resist is removed, exposing the metal components that reflect the customer’s files that were submitted in step one.
  • Final Inspection – Our team of technicians and engineers inspect the parts to make sure they are free from burrs and other deformities, and we make sure they reflect the exact dimensions as outlined in the design file. United Western Enterprises also ensures the parts meet the highest industry standards, and if requested, we then perform laser welding, forming, soldering or plating.

Each of these steps combine an overall process that ensures there are no burrs, and that all parts are made to the highest standards, free from weaknesses, making United Western Enterprises the preferred partner for companies requiring photo chemical etching for their metal fabrication process.

Call United Western Enterprises to Learn How Photochemical Etching Can Save You Money and Produce Higher Quality Parts

United Western Enterprises has been fabricating small metal parts since 1978, and we are known for offering the best photo chemical etching services in the country for a wide range of industries. Call today to learn more about this cost-effective process, and discover how a partnership with United Western Enterprises can help your organization reign above your competition.

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