PROCESSWEST Magazine Online

When Should You Use Chemical Etching in the Manufacturing Process?

By Harvey Craig   

Chemical etching is an important part of an efficient manufacturing process. It makes it much easier for you to create high-quality and precise metal parts in complex patterns and shapes.

It’s used often in industrial scale production and is often the most cost-effective solution. In this article, we’re going to look at chemical etching in more detail so you know more about it, whether it’s right for you – and how to make the most of it.

When comparing chemical etching to some other popular types of metal fabrication like laser cutting, stamping, CNC and water jetting, the results are favourable for many uses and applications.

While chemical etching is often the most affordable solution – cost isn’t the only important factor when evaluating alternatives. Other things are important, too. So how does chemical etching stand up in these areas?


Material range

Chemical etching isn’t necessarily the best option for work in every type of material, but there are some types of production processes that it really excels in. Most notably creating stress-free parts in stainless steel, aluminium, mild and carbon steel, copper, brass and more (including nickel). There are tons of different types of metals that work great with chemical etching, and it’s one of the most versatile options out there.


If you need to have a particularly tight tolerance during your manufacturing process, then chemical etching can be a great option, especially when compared to more traditional processes.

Tolerance with chemical etching can normally be around plus or minus 10 per cent of the part’s thickness. This makes it extremely tolerant, and is great for producing round holes and sharp edges.


Chemical etching is another great option for producing small and precise work. Oftentimes, the biggest challenge of a design is when ensuring high-quality in the smallest parts, that makes precision really important. When using chemical etching, you can make things as small as 30 μm, which is one of the most precise and small solutions in manufacturing. There aren’t many other options when you want that amount of precision.


Aside from the size and tolerance of your manufacturing process – quality is hugely important at all times. With chemical etching, you can make sure all your work has a high-quality finish and is both stress and burr free. This makes it the best option for many applications, and is especially successful when producing profiled edges and round holes.

Production time

Another benefit of chemical etching is that it enables rapid prototyping and short lead times. If you need a prototype quickly, you can use chemical etching successfully. This means with chemical etching, you can create quality prototypes in just a couple of days, much faster than many of the alternatives. Chemical etching also makes it very easy to move quickly from prototype production to full-scale industrial production and larger runs of manufacturing processes. This makes it the optimum choice for speedy manufacturing at every point in the production cycle, and is much faster than almost every alternative.

As you can see, there are a huge number of benefits associated with chemical etching. It beats the alternatives in almost every area, and its why most modern solutions use it as the best option; this is exactly why we use and specialize in chemical etching at Tecan. So, whether you want a more precise finish, higher tolerance, faster lead times or better-quality products, chemical etching is the best choice around.

About the author: Harvey Craig works for Tecan, a manufacturer established to serve the growing demand for fine-featured, flat profile precision metal parts.


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