Chemcut’s Blog

Our blog is designed to help teach you about metal etching, designing an etching plant, maintaining your wet processing machines, and more.

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9 Industries Chemcut Serves

Blog image of industries served

Chemcut custom-designs and manufactures horizontal wet processing equipment for organizations of all shapes and sizes. Our equipment is so versatile that all sorts of different industries can utilize Chemcut products. Chemcut equipment frequently serves many industries, and some of the applications may surprise you. Here are the 9 main industries Chemcut serves.

1. Printed Circuit Board Manufacturing

In 1957, Chemcut, then known as centre circuits, developed the first conveyorized double-sided spray etcher to make the chemical etching process practical for both high volume and prototype production. These early conveyorized etchers were primarily used for printed circuit board production. In the ’50s and ’60s, world consumption of electrical and electronic devices dramatically increased causing strong demand for affordable and efficient printed circuit boards (PCBs).  Today, Chemcut wet processing equipment continues to be widely used by the PCB industry.

2. Chemical Milling

With the introduction of conveyorized etching equipment, it was quickly recognized that these machines could be used to efficiently produce precise, burr-free metal parts in high volumes through the chemical etching process.  The Photo Chemical Machining (PCM) industry remains a significant user of Chemcut wet processing equipment.  

3. Glass and Flat Panel Display

Chemcut also manufactures specialized equipment for glass and flat panel display (FPD) manufacturing. Common applications for Chemcut products include glass pre & post-cleaning, glass etching, resist developing, and resist stripping.

4. Medical

The need for precise and biocompatible medical implants lead the Medical industry to chemical etching of materials such as Nitinol, (nickel-titanium), and titanium. Chemcut etchers are used with hydrofluoric etchants to produce biocompatible implanted metal parts.

5. Metal Finishing

Chemcut offers both mechanical and chemical finishing systems. These systems offer quick, uniform, and precise solutions to plating, cleaning, decorative finishing, and deburring circuit boards and metal panels.

6. Photovoltaic

Chemcut conveyorized processing systems are available for multiple steps in traditional silicon and alternative photovoltaic panel manufacturing process.

7. Semiconductors

Chemcut equipment can also be efficient in non-traditional processing of semiconductor products.

8. Sign and Nameplates

The sign and nameplate industry is also one that benefits from the use of Chemcut equipment. Whether your shop is small or large, Chemcut will build the right piece of equipment for you and provide the support you need.

9. Waste Treatment

Chemcut also manufactures waste treatment equipment to be complimentary with your etching process.

Since Chemcut products can be used in so many different ways, the industries discussed above are only some of the industries that utilize Chemcut products. Whatever industry you are in, we can meet your wet processing needs because we custom design our machines to suit your needs. Whether you need it customized for traditional or non-traditional manufacturing in your industry, we will help you develop your process and design equipment that is most suitable for you.

Etch Uniformity – 7 Reasons to Consider Intermittent Spray

In chemical etching, one of the growing areas of innovation that we discussed in “5 Areas to Expect Growth In Chemical Etching” was etch uniformity. Etch uniformity is becoming crucial to obtaining consistent results across larger panels. Whether the panels are for printed circuit boards or etching multiple parts, better uniformity will increase production. The difficulty in receiving an equal etch across a panel is caused by the “puddle effect” — an effect where diffusion is limited in the middle of the panel due to a higher puddle depth. This effect causes the edges to etch faster than the middle. Many companies have developed methods around the puddle effect, such as vacuum etching, but the best available solution is intermittent spray. Here are 7 reasons why intermittent spray is the best etch uniformity solution on the market.

1. Simpler Design

Our patented intermittent spray is the perfect etch uniformity solution if you are looking to improve your process but not increase the complexity of your machine. If you are limited on space on your shop floor, adding an intermittent spray won’t be an issue. It is compact and contributes a minimal addition of length to your etching system. If you already have a modular etching line but want better uniformity, an intermittent spray module can be easily added.

2. Lower Machine Costs

The simplistic design of intermittent spray also means a lower cost. Its compact design does not require many resources or much manufacturing time — thus allowing it to have a low capital cost in comparison to other etch uniformity solutions.

3. Lower Maintenance Downtime and Costs

The simple design also means easier, less expensive maintenance.

4. Faster Etching Rate

Intermittent spray provides a etch uniformity solution that does not hold back etch rates.

5. Able to Transport Thinner Products

Since this solution only consists of an additional area to spray etchant, it poses no limit to material thickness.

6. Higher Yield

Intermittent spray modules can boost yield by obtaining a uniform etch across a panel without introducing a higher risk of damaged panels.

7. Lower Operation Costs

With intermittent spray, there is no loss of etchant in the process and there are fewer utilities required to function.

If you are looking for an efficient way to improve your etch uniformity, intermittent spray is the best solution available. With it, you’ll receive a more even etch through your panels without introducing more complex and expensive systems. If you want to see how well our intermittent spray will perform on your panels, you should consider having samples etched in our in-house customer lab. Should you want to arrange a visit or request having samples etched, please contact us.

Product Showcase: 2300 Series

At Chemcut we offer three different product platforms for wet processing equipment. We offer the 2300 series, the XLi series, and the CC8000 series. Each one has its strengths, but today we will discuss the 2300 series. The 2300 series is a model that targets the quick turn and prototype markets. Here are the four unique qualities the Chemcut 2300 series equipment has to offer.

1. Small Footprint

The 2300 series’ compact design allows it to be suitable for businesses of all sizes. With this series, you can save space while getting the productivity and efficiency of a conveyorized system.

2. Reduced Sump Size

This feature requires less chemistry on-site and allows for a quick change of process chemistries. A smaller sump also means less rinse water that will need treatment after cleaning out the machine.

3. Quick and efficient installation.

This compactness of the 2300 series means easier installation and maintenance without sacrificing product performance.

4. Scalable to large production levels.

The 2300 series technical performance is easily scalable to large volume equipment like the Chemcut XLi or C8000 series.

If you are looking for a chemical etching line but need something compact, easy to maintain, and cost-efficient, you should consider our 2300 model. If you are interested in the 2300 series but have more questions, you can send your questions to us here, or you can even arrange to visit our customer lab to receive a demonstration of how it works.

6 Chemical Etching Safety Tips

If you are working in the chemical etching industry, safety should be one of your top priorities. A chemical etching shop in irresponsible hands can become a dangerous place because of the many physical and chemical hazards. In this article, we will share some useful safety tips we have learned over many years in the chemical etching industry. Utilizing these tips on top of normal safety procedures and policies will ensure your chemical etching shop becomes a safe place to work.

1. Mind the edges

After etching, any edges exposed to the etching process become sharper. Because of this, it is highly recommended to handle etched panels with gloves that will be resistant to any punctures or slashes that the edges can inflict. This is more of a concern in the field of chemical etching because parts are etched through. In the printed circuit board industry, sharp edges are produced less because there is no point where the top and bottom etching meet to form a refined knife-like edge.

2. Double-check valves

Right before you perform any task with or on your wet processing equipment, it is a good idea to double-check the valves. This will ensure there will not be an accidental release or exposure to the chemistry. It will also allow you to ensure that the necessary process controls are active.

3. Don’t leave a filling machine unattended

When you are loading an etcher with water or etchant, it may be tempting to step away and do something while you are waiting. The problem here is that it is inevitable that someone will forget and overfill the machine. When a machine overfills, the contents will begin to overflow from any openings — this becomes a hazard in the workplace because of the possibility of slipping on the wet floor and being exposed to the etcher chemistry.

4. Reduce time working inside the etcher

Image of opened etcher after water testing

Working inside the etcher can be an uncomfortable part of performing maintenance. Whether you are reaching into the etcher to troubleshoot or perform preventive maintenance, it is always best to allow the etcher to cool down to room temperature before performing tasks. If immediate access is needed, it is best then to minimize the amount of time inside the etcher and to reduce skin contact with the wetted interior. Most etchants can irritate the skin and produce toxic fumes when hot.

5. Maintain a preventive maintenance program

To prevent unexpected events of exposure, it is important to perform inspections often. Always check seals, plumbing, and containment to ensure there is no compromise. Preventive maintenance keeps your equipment in top condition and prevents any sudden, accidental releases of the contents inside any wet processing equipment.

6. Understand the active chemistry

In chemical etching, it is highly important to understand your etching chemistry. Understanding what materials or chemicals may react can go a long way in terms of safety. It is easy to underestimate what reactions can occur with your chemistry. If an incompatible component is added, the outcomes can range from a highly exothermic reaction to a release of toxic gas.

Maintaining a safe environment in the chemical etching industry is highly important. If you follow these tips you’ll be a few steps closer to having a safer chemical etching shop.

Are you looking to make your chemical etching shop safer? At Chemcut, we offer an extensive preventive maintenance agreement that is customer-specific.  This program could be annual, semi-annual, monthly, or whichever works best for you. Should you be interested in this type of service, please contact our service department by clicking here.