Stainless steel etching is a widely used process in the manufacturing industry. Its popularity is in large part due to the corrosion-resistant 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:
- What stainless steel etching is and its applications
- Chemical etching for stainless steel
- Reel-to-reel etching of stainless steel
- Micro-groove applications
Right at the end of the post, we will also highlight Interplex’s capabilities and track record as an etching specialist.
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.
Consequently, 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 industries.
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 not achievable via conventional stamping techniques. With reel-to-reel chemical etching, precision stainless steel parts can be produced on a continuous metal strip.
Advantages of Reel-to-reel Etching
Adopting a tightly-controlled reel-to-reel etching process is important to maintain the close tolerances and high degree of repeatability required while delivering 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.
Some key advantages of reel-to-reel etching include:
- 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
- Burr-free precision metal components with ultra-fine pitches, intricate shapes and 3D feature profiles can be designed and produced
- Chemically etched parts can be produced in a high-volume environment, reducing 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
The continuous reel-to-reel etching process has also been adapted to produce specialized 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 high-precision parts include the military and medical sectors.
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 over 30 years of 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 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 optimizing time-to-market and lowering overall production costs.