Custom Metal stencils for Wood Burning via Photo Chemical Etching

What is metal stencil ?

Metal stencils, also known as metal letter stencils or metal cutout stencils, are stencils made from metal materials that are used for various applications such as painting, marking, or engraving. These stencils are typically made from thin sheets of metal, including aluminum, steel, or brass, which are sturdy and durable.

Metal stencils consist of a sheet of metal with pre-cut openings or designs. The openings can be in the form of letters, numbers, shapes, symbols, or patterns, depending on the specific application. The stencil is placed on the surface to be marked or painted, and the openings allow the paint or marking material to pass through onto the underlying surface, creating a precise and consistent design.

Metal stencils are often used for industrial purposes, such as marking crates, barrels, or machinery parts with identification numbers, logos, or warning signs. They are also used in arts and crafts, DIY projects, and signage applications. Metal stencils offer advantages such as durability, reusability, and the ability to create sharp and well-defined designs.

In addition to pre-cut openings, some metal stencils may have bridges or connectors to keep the stencil intact and provide stability during use. These bridges prevent the stencil from falling apart and help maintain the proper alignment of the design.
Metal stencils can be used with various painting or marking techniques, including spray paint, brush painting, airbrushing, or engraving. They provide a convenient way to achieve consistent and professional-looking results, especially when repetitive or precise designs are required.

Overall, metal stencils offer a versatile and reliable tool for creating clear and accurate designs on various surfaces, making them popular in both industrial and artistic applications.
Here are some of the advantages of using etching technology to produce metal stencil:
1. High Precision: Etching offers exceptional precision and accuracy in creating intricate patterns, fine details, and complex designs on metal plates. It allows for the production of highly detailed models with tight tolerances, ensuring the final product matches the desired specifications.
2. Versatility: Etching is a versatile process that can be used to produce metal model plates of various shapes, sizes, and thicknesses. It is suitable for both simple and complex designs, making it a flexible option for a wide range of applications.
3. Cost-Effective: Compared to traditional machining methods, etching is often a more cost-effective solution for producing metal model plates. The process requires minimal tooling and setup costs, making it ideal for both small and large production runs. Additionally, the ability to produce intricate designs in a single step helps reduce production time and labor costs.
4. Fast Turnaround Time: Etching offers a relatively fast turnaround time compared to other manufacturing processes. Once the design is finalized, the production of metal model plates through etching can be completed quickly, enabling faster prototyping, product development, and time-to-market.
5. Customization and Complexity: Etching allows for the production of highly customized metal model plates with intricate and complex designs. It enables the inclusion of fine details, logos, serial numbers, text, and other features that can enhance the functionality and aesthetics of the final product.
6. Material Compatibility: Etching can be performed on a wide range of metals, including stainless steel, brass, copper, aluminum, and various alloys. This flexibility in material selection allows for the production of metal model plates that suit specific application requirements, such as corrosion resistance, conductivity, or mechanical strength.
7. Repeatable and Consistent Results: Etching provides consistent results across multiple production runs. Once the etching parameters and processes are established, the production of metal model plates can be easily replicated, ensuring uniformity and consistency in the final products.

Chemical etching process: 10 frequently asked questions

Want to ask a question about chemical etching or share a component drawing for technical review?

Q1. What is the chemical etching process?
The chemical etching process is a sheet metal machining process that is used to manufacture complex components with high levels of accuracy.Comprising nine steps, it works by printing the component design onto a photoresist mask which is laminated onto the metal.
The areas of photoresist which have not been printed are developed, exposing the metal, which is subsequently etched away.
Q2. What metals can be chemically etched?
Almost any metal and metal alloy can undergo chemical etching. This includes steel and stainless steels, nickel, copper, aluminium.
What makes photochemical etching so effective is that it works well on hard-to-machine metals, including highly corrosive-resistant metals such as titanium and its alloys.
Q3. What chemical is used in etching?
Most metals are etched using ferric chloride, a safe to use, recyclable etchant. Ferric chloride can be regenerated and reused.
Other proprietary etchants such as nitric acid, are used for specialist metals and alloys.
Q4. What sheet sizes and thicknesses can be etched?
Sheet metals between 0.010mm and 1.5 mm thick can be etched. The thicker the sheet the longer it takes to etch, meaning metals above 1.5mm are uneconomical to process.
Q5. How accurate is chemical etching?
Excellent accuracy can be achieved with photochemical etching. Standard minimum etching tolerances are ±10% of the metal thickness being etched, to a minimum of ±0.025 mm.
With development, greater accuracy can be achieved so it is encouraged that customers partner with TONGJIN Etching early in the design phase so an appropriate etching method can be developed.
Q6. What are the benefits of chemical etching?
Chemical etching is highly advantageous and offers many benefits. This process does not use mechanical force, unlike stamping which subjects sheet metals to extreme pressures. Nor does it put thermal stress on the cutting edge, unlike laser cutting.
Alongside this, chemically etched parts remain flat, burr- and stress-free, leaving the material properties unaffected.
Chemical etching can also produce very accurate engraved features at the same time the material is being profiled, such as fluidic channels, logos or part numbers. These features come at no additional cost.
Q7: What level of detail can chemical etching achieve?
The minimum standard etched opening achievable is 0.1 mm, but with development, etching can achieve even finer features.
Q8. How much does chemical etching cost?
Chemical etching uses digital tooling which is inexpensive, very easy to adapt and does not wear out, unlike presswork tooling.
Material thickness and component size are key cost drivers as you pay by the sheet, not by the part – the more parts per sheet, the lower the unit price. Thicker sheets take longer to etch and this is reflected in the cost of the component.
Q9. What are the maximum quantities chemical etching can produce?
There is no maximum quantity that chemical etching can produce.  Low-cost digital tooling ensures prototype quantities can be supplied quickly and economically.
As one of the largest sheet metal etching companies in the world, TONGJIN Etching supplies its customers with component quantities measured in the millions.
Q10. How long does chemical etching take?     
Chemical etching lead times are measured in days, not weeks or months, unlike traditional metal machining technologies.
Subject to quantities required and capacity, standard components which require no additional post-processing can be supplied in less than two working weeks. Urgent demands can be supplied even quicker.

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