Stainless Steel Etching: Understanding The Process and Its Applications



Stainless steel etching is a widely used process in the manufacturing industry.
Its popularity is in large part due to the corrosion resistance properties and ready availability of the metal alloy. Another key reason is that etching is a key enabling technology for aerospace, medical and other high-precision applications that require very fine features and tolerances.
In this post, we’ll help you understand:

Right at the end of the post, we’ll aslo be highlighting Interplex’s capabilities and track record as a stainless steel etching supplier.
Ready to get started? Let’s jump in.

Stainless Steel Etching And Its Applications  

For many of today’s most demanding applications, the formation of very fine precision parts with consistent features and very close tolerances has pushed the limits beyond the capabilities of conventional stamping or other metal forming processes.
In response, manufacturers have turned to chemical etching processes to achieve the very small features, close tolerances and yield consistency that is critical for success in these applications. This has made chemical etching a key method for etching stainless steel across many sectors.   

Chemically Etching Stainless Steel

Chemical etching of stainless steel parts is a photo-chemical metal conversion process that creates highly repeatable, burr-free components with complex features for intricate designs and shapes that would not be achievable with conventional stamping techniques.
With reel-to-reel chemical etching, manufacturers are able to produce precision parts on a continuous metal strip made from stainless steel.

Advantages of Reel-To-Reel Etching

Using a tightly controlled reel-to-reel etching process is important to maintain the close tolerances and a high degree of repeatability combined with high-volume production output.
Unlike panel etched parts, reel-to-reel etching is inherently automation friendly and allows for smooth integration of secondary processing steps.
Here are some key advantages of reel-to-reel etching.

  • Ability to hold very tight tolerances for small feature sizes with high degree of repeatability and consistency
  • Increased repeatability and consistency reducing total cost of quality, especially in high reliability applications
  • Customers can design burr-free, precision metal components with ultra-fine pitches, intricate shapes and 3-D feature profiles
  • Chemically etched parts can be produced in a high volume environment which reduces tooling and production costs, while improving time to market
  • Reel-to-reel etched parts can be presented to other automated processes, further reducing total manufacturing costs


Micro-Groove Applications

The continuous reel-to-reel etch process has also been adapted to produce specialised products with “half-etched” micro-grooves for critical high-precision applications in Aerospace, Medical, Industrial and Defense industries.
Primarily applied to austenitic stainless steel alloys, the micro-groove process enables a variety of applications where the part functionality is dependent on precise depth of the etched groove. Industries requiring such parts include the military and medical sectors. 

Stainless Steel Etching Services  

Here at Interplex, we offer advanced chemical metal etching technologies, with proprietary reel-to-reel processing methods. These technologies provide for very close tolerances and high repeatability for features that are too small to achieve with conventional stamping processes.
With more than 30 years of chemical etching innovation and product design experience, our unique service capabilities are geared to help customers achieve even the most difficult and intricate geometric features on a variety of stainless steel alloys.
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 optimising time-to-market and lowering overall production costs.  

Useful Links  

  • Find out more about our stainless steel etching capabilities here.
  • Get in touch with us for any Product Enquiries or Requests for Quotation here.
  • Learn more about Interplex and our heritage in Precision Manufacturing here.