Photo Chemical Etching

Interplex’s advanced precision photo chemical metal etching technologies, with proprietary reel-to-reel processing methods, provide very close tolerances and high repeatability for features that are too small to achieve with conventional stamping processes.

With over 30 years of photo chemical etching innovation and product design experience, our unique capabilities are geared to help customers achieve even the most difficult and intricate geometric features on a variety of Stainless Steel and/or Copper alloys.

We understand the importance of close communication with our valued customers. We strive to maximize the best arrangement of parts to suit production requirements and demands. No detail is overlooked; all requirements and specifications are reviewed comprehensively and communicated clearly.

Product and Process Excellence

Dimensional and positional tolerances are measured in microns, and through-hole features under 100μm are commonplace. Most metal thicknesses are in the 0.002” to 0.010” range, but can range up to 0.020” when required.

Within our etching processes, we can perform half-etchings for special applications such as hand break-offs, sharp beveled edges and tips, capillary grooves and other unique features. Our photo etching processes are oftentimes only limited by the imagination of our customers.

By leveraging proven processes on the same flexible equipment for all prototype and production runs, we eliminate the need for special tooling or process migration, thereby optimizing time to market and reducing overall production costs.Typically, we can go from quote to production deliveries in less than 6 weeks and can ramp-up from a few pieces to over 10 million in a matter of weeks.

Our fully computerized process control system manages 160 critical physical and chemical process variables in real time to assure uniform and consistent results. Results are also automatically audited by online vision systems at the end of the lines.

Interplex’s photo etching processes are certified to ISO 9001, TS 16949 and ISO 14001 specifications. Lamination and exposure processes are performed in a class 100 (ISO 5) cleanroom. Output areas of the etch lines are enclosed in a class 10,000 (ISO 7) cleanroom and parts can be immediately packed for delivery within the cleanroom environment.

Our Photo Chemical Etching Capabilities

Continuous Reel-to-reel Etching

Interplex is well-equipped to produce continuous precision etched parts to the standards and specifications expected by our customers. We produce volume photo etched parts to customers’ drawing specifications in continuous reels that meet their manufacturing needs.

Coil Etching

Our capability to supply precision etched parts in continuous coils differentiates us from other etching specialists. In addition to producing etched metal parts to our customers’ exacting print specifications, we offer flexible delivery formats according to their needs— either as individual parts or as parts left in continuous coil.

Volume Etching

Our extensive etching expertise allows us to deliver precision etched metal parts in high volumes on continuous reels/coils. This, coupled with our dedication to truly understand our customers’ requirements, is what differentiates us from other etching specialists.

We understand that the production of volume etched parts is no simple feat; achieving this successfully requires detailed development and prototype efforts that we are willing to partake in. We realize that the large-volume products we produce today started as a dream and we are committed to working with our customers to turn their designs and dreams into reality.

Production Etching

Our continuous reel-to-reel etching capabilities affords our customers the opportunity to receive high-quality precision etched metal parts at a low cost of entry prior to production requirements. No volume is too large for us to consider; we engage our customers to determine their requirements in order to provide the best-fit solution for their needs.

We are well-equipped to produce production-size quantities of precision etched parts supplied in coils/reels. From development through full production, we are with our customers every step of the way, fully assisting them to minimize their cost of entry and production without compromising quality.

Precision Etching

Our advanced continuous reel-to-reel etching process allows us to produce consistent and constant precision metal parts and components. Accessible tolerances using our continuous reel-to-reel etching processes are normally tighter than those of our competitors, giving rise to reliable, high-quality etched parts every time.

We strive to exceed our customers’ expectations by producing etched metal parts that are constantly better than what the drawing allows. No stone will be left unturned; all tolerances and specifications will be reviewed and communicated with the customer.

Stainless Steel Etching

Stainless Steels make up the vast majority of what Interplex currently etches, within which the largest share is the 300 Series Stainless Steels. Hardness of the Stainless Steel is not a constraint for us, as we chemically etch the metal. Thickness of etched parts are normally less than 0.020”, with the largest percentage of etched parts being 0.002” to 0.010” in thickness.

Photo-tools used to produce the etched parts can be interchangeable for material type and hardness, but not thickness. Most often, a new photo-tool will be required if and when a change is made to the etched part’s thickness.

Copper Etching

Interplex’s heritage in etching began with the etching of Copper; to this day, we continue to etch Copper parts for customers all around the world. We can etch Copper alloys of all kinds, and thicknesses of these precision etched Copper parts vary from 0.001” to 0.020”.

As with all parts that we produce, we etch products in continuous reel-to-reel processing, delivering our customers’ parts either in continuous coils/reels or as individual pieces. Our continuous reel-to-reel etch processing allows us to produce precision products at competitive costs.

Iron-Nickel Etching

We predominantly etch Stainless Steel; with Stainless Steel being an Iron-Nickel alloy in terms of composition, our etching expertise extends to almost any Iron-Nickel alloy. Our capabilities and processes allow us to etch alloys such as Invar, Kovar, Nickel and Steel, just to name a few.

Etching of precision Iron-Nickel parts and components is only limited by the engineer’s imagination. As is the case with all metals that we etch, part thicknesses of up to 0.020” are possible.

Metal Etching

While Stainless Steel is our most commonly etched material, our expansive etching capabilities enable us to etch many other metals and metal laminates. We welcome the opportunity to discuss any metal you are considering to have etched into metal parts; while there inevitably are limitations, these will be considered on a case-by-case basis.

At present, thicknesses of no greater than 0.020” are permissible due to our continuous coil processing, and we currently do not etch Titanium and its alloys.

Precision Photo Chemical Etching

Precision Photo Chemical Etching can be referred to by many names: Photochemical Etching, Photo Etching, Chemical or Chem Etching, Photofabrication, Metal Etching, and Photo Chemical Machining, just to name a few. The heart of our Precision Photo Chemical Etching process is our photo imaging and chemical etching technologies, supported by dedicated experts that truly understand our process technology.

Regardless of what name is used, Precision Photo Chemical Etching is a specialized high-precision process that we have mastered.We are confident of presenting the best etched metal parts to our customers, as an individual piece or left tied in a coil/reel format, at the most competitive cost.

 

General Achievable Features and Specifications

  • Minimum Feature Size: 1.1x material thickness
  • Minimum Thickness: 0.0008″ (0.0203mm)
  • Feature Tolerance: 10% of material thickness
  • Positional Tolerance: 1 – 3μm (0.001 – 0.003mm)
  • Maximum Thickness: 0.0200″ (0.508mm)
  • Maximum Part Width: 8″ (203mm)
  • Maximum Part Length: 1,500′ (457m)

Unique Selling Proposition of Interplex’s Photo Chemical Etching Technology

  • Burr and Slag Free – With metal etching, including panel etching, customers can design burr-free precision metal components with ultra-fine pitches, intricate shapes and 3D feature profiles that are otherwise not possible using traditional metal stamping processes
  • Stress Free – Photo chemical etching adds no stress to the metal, as material is only being chemically removed and not physically removed such as stamping does
  • No Heat Deformation – With photo chemical etching, there are no lasers used that may cause melting (slag) and heat-affected zone concerns
  • Increased Repeatability – Reel-to-reel photo chemical etching significantly reduces the total cost of quality, especially in high reliability applications
  • Improved Time to Market – Photo etched parts are produced using photo masks, which reduces tooling and production costs while improving time to market
  • Tight Tolerance – Continuous reel-to-reel photo chemical etching can hold very tight tolerances for small feature sizes with a very high degree of repeatability and consistency
  • Vertical Integration – Reel-to-reel metal etching of parts can be presented as inputs to other automated manufacturing processes such as forming, plating, insert molding and assembly on a reel, further reducing total manufacturing costs

Markets Served

Types of Applications

  • Electronics
  • Fiber Optics
  • Printers
  • Oil Control Valve Filters
  • Fuel Injector Filter Screens
  • Medical Sharps and Devices