Aluminium Etching: A Cost-Effective Method

Aluminium etching is indeed a cost-effective method for various applications. Here are some reasons why aluminium etching is considered cost-effective:
1. Material Cost: Aluminium is relatively affordable compared to other metals such as stainless steel or brass. The lower material cost makes it a cost-effective option for etching projects, especially when producing large quantities of parts or components.
2. Manufacturing Efficiency: Aluminium is a lightweight metal with excellent machinability. Etching aluminium requires less time and energy compared to other metals, reducing manufacturing costs and increasing production efficiency.
3. Tooling and Setup: Aluminium etching typically does not require expensive tooling or complex setup processes. The etching mask can be easily applied to the aluminium surface, allowing for quick and straightforward preparation. This reduces setup costs and makes aluminium etching suitable for prototyping or low-volume production runs.
4. Etching Precision: Aluminium etching techniques, such as chemical etching or laser etching, offer high precision and fine detail capabilities. This eliminates the need for additional machining or post-etching processes, saving time and costs associated with secondary operations.
5. Versatility: Aluminium etching can be performed on various aluminium alloys, allowing for versatility in material selection. The process can accommodate different shapes, sizes, and thicknesses of aluminium, making it adaptable to a wide range of applications.
6. Cost of Replication: Aluminium etching enables the replication of complex designs or patterns with consistent quality. Once the etching process is established, replicating the same design on multiple aluminium pieces incurs minimal additional costs, making it cost-effective for mass production or batch orders.
It's important to note that the cost-effectiveness of aluminium etching can vary depending on factors such as design complexity, project scale, and the specific requirements of the etching process. However, in general, aluminium etching offers a cost-effective solution for many applications, making it a popular choice in industries such as automotive, electronics, signage, and more.

Aluminum speaker grilles

Our Aluminium etching service uses easily re-iterated and low-cost digital tooling, providing a cost-effective and fast manufacturing alternative to stamping, laser and water-jet cutting.
Aluminium and its alloys have always proved difficult to machine. Similarly, with etching, the process is not straightforward. Aluminium releases heat energy during etching, resulting in a rough, granular edge.
We have developed a proprietary method for etching aluminium and its alloys, producing cleaner edge profiles with greater accuracy.

Aluminium’s lightweight means greater fuel efficiency and lower carbon emissions. As an IS9001 and IATF 16949 accredited chemical etching supplier, TongJin Etching specialises in chemical etching aluminium components for automotive and aerospace applications, as well as other high-tech industries.

  • Aluminium car interior components such as dials, dashboard inlays and instrument covers are machined with high-definition logos, surface textures and profiles.
  • Etched helicopter air intake grilles are lightweight and retain material properties during manufacture.
  • Heater plates stacked and used in aircraft dehumidifiers can be set-up cost-effectively and etched with smoother channels to improve airflow.
  • Compact, shaped heat exchanger plates can be etched with complex channel and pin arrays, reducing footprint and improving the thermal management of aircraft engines.


  • Air intake grilles
  • Heater plates
  • Plate heat exchangers
  • Ribbon tweeters
  • Automotive interior trim

Etched stainless steel components

Chemical etching offers a number of benefits for product applications that require economical complexity and stress and burr-free features, all delivered in short lead times.

Etching does not alter the surface finish of stainless steel and is specified for premium automotive interior trim applications, including speaker grilles, tread plates, badges and inlays.

Safety-critical springs and flexures used in satellites, ABS braking, biosensors and fuel injection can now flex millions of times because stainless steel etching does not alter the fatigue strength, recoil and flatness of spring steels.

Complex, corrosion-resistant micro-filters used in showerheads and insect meshes can be manufactured in economical production volumes, as etching only charges for the first hole.

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.

Customer Reviews

I am extremely impressed with the precision...
Swapnil from United StatesWednesday, Jan 26, 2019
"I am extremely impressed with the precision and quality of the chemical etching performed by your team. The intricate designs on our metal components were etched flawlessly, exceeding our expectations. Thank you for delivering such a high-quality product."
Your chemical etching service has significantly improved the durability...
Sarah from United KingdomWednesday, Jan 20, 2020
"Your chemical etching service has significantly improved the durability and functionality of our products. The etched patterns not only enhance the aesthetics but also provide excellent grip and tactile feel. Our customers are thrilled with the results, and we couldn't be happier with your exceptional craftsmanship."
We have been relying on your chemical etching expertise for several projects...
Eduardo from ItalyWednesday, Mar 16, 2022
"We have been relying on your chemical etching expertise for several projects, and each time, you have consistently delivered outstanding results. Your attention to detail, quick turnaround time, and excellent customer service make you our preferred choice. Your commitment to excellence is commendable."
has given our brand a unique edge in the market...
Taner from TurkeyFriday, April 26, 2023
"The chemical etching performed by your team has given our brand a unique edge in the market. The intricate logos and designs etched onto our products have attracted significant attention and set us apart from our competitors. We appreciate your professionalism and skill."

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