Chemical Milling

Photo Etching on Metal – Stainless Steel, Titanium, and More

What is Photo Etching?Chemical Milling. stainless Steel etching.

Photo etching is the process of removing metal by chemical etching and is ideally suited for the production of flat, relatively thin parts of unlimited configurations.

Photo etching is also known as metal etching, chemical milling, acid etching, and stainless steel etching.

Why should a metal fabrication shop have metal etch capabilities?

Accurate and Complex

A metal etching machine has the capability to make extremely complex and accurate metal components. Since all the features are being machined at the same time the complexity can be endless.

Burr-Free and Stress-Free

Since the photo etch process is chemical machining instead of mechanical machining the components will be bur free, stress-free, and will maintain all its original metal properties.

Fast Prototyping and Quick Design Changes

Metal etching has a digital tooling process that allows etcher owners to make fast changes to component designs.

Endless Metal Options

A list of metals that Chemcut has built chemical etchers for in the past is at the bottom of this page.

No Expensive Hard Tooling

This is a common expense in stamping and other machining processes.

Tight Tolerances

Acid etching metal on a Chemcut machine can have a tolerance of 10% of the material thickness; even better with artwork compensation prior to resist exposure.

Tolerance of 1 mil and lower is achieved by many of our customers

Popular Chemical Etching Lines for Photo Metal Etching

Cupric Chloride Etcher

Copper Etcher

PCB Etcher

Ferric Chloride Etcher

Copper Etcher

Stainless Steel Etcher

PCB Etcher

Specialty Metal Etcher

Hydrofluoric Etcher (HF etcher)

Titanium Etching

Specialty Metal Etcher

Develop – Etch – Strip

Develop – Etch

Etch – Strip

Standalone Etcher

Mechanical Scrubber

Mechanical Deburr

Popular Options for the Photo Etch Process includes:

Acid Controller – popular for cupric chloride etchant

Drip Pan – easy to clean up drips and spills because the pan catches all chemistry around the wet processing equipment.


Chiller Cooling System

Inline Filtration – results in fewer clogged nozzles and fewer particles in solution

Ion Exchange – for the rinse stations. Saves water. Ability to “close loop” rinse water if needed.

ORP Controller – a popular option for Cupric chloride, and Ferric chloride etchers and comes with a regeneration system

pH Controller – is a popular option for Alkaline processes and standard on developing and resist stripping

Specific Gravity Controller (IX) with Visual Baume – never let your etchant Baume get too high or low again

Ventilation Demister – aids in condensation and recovery of evaporated process chemistry vapor

The options do not stop there. Chemcut wet processing machines are modular. That allows you to configure your machine in any order you want.

Please proceed to our products to find all the different conveyor widths you can pick from.

Why Choose Chemcut to Build Your Chemical Milling Etcher?

Chemcut’s process engineers have over 100 years of combined acid etching experience.

Whether you are processing rigid or flexible materials, Chemcut will find a way to make your metal engraving process a flying success. We are willing to customize our etchers to your every need.

Contact us today so we can discuss your metal engraving project to determine what etching chemicals will best optimize your etching line.

Once we determine the best chemistry, we will start our lab testing phase. For the testing phase, we will need you to supply us with a panel that is laminated, exposed, and developed.

What if you are just starting a photo etching shop and cannot do this yourself?

No problem.

Chemcut has the ability to clean, laminate, expose, develop, etch, and strip, in-house! All you will need to supply is the artwork, lamination, and the metal that needs to be etched.

Chemcut can test unusual chemistries (organic solvents for example) for material compatibility prior to system build to verify the process will work, and that materials selected for construction are durable and robust.

Chemcut will prove our etchers can attain your goals and we will help you optimize all your wet processing steps.

In the end, the optimization really comes down to you testing your new metal engraving machines and finding what best works for you, but we will be here the whole time to help you through every step.

Ultimately the main reasons our customers love working with us are:

Chemcut has been a leader in the metal etch process since 1957. 

We are here to serve you. Our pre and post-sales support is second to none and prides itself on our customer’s success. Our expert service team will ship parts overnight if needed. Most parts are shipped within 24 hours of purchase. Where our competitors will have you waiting weeks if not months for parts.

Etching Performance. Our etchers provide companies with the most uniform and accurate etched surface on the market today.

Durability. Our wet processing machines are built to last using USA sourced material that is the best in the world. We have hundreds if not thousands of etchers, developers, and strippers that are well over 30 years old still providing high quality etched components.

Vertically Integrated. We make over 90% of our parts so we do not rely on anyone else to make parts for us. This gives us complete control over quality and the ability to make parts in order to support installed systems that are over 30 years old. We never have to worry about a supplier discontinuing a part and if a part is not in stock, we can start building it immediately.

Completely customized wet processing machines. You can buy a standard etcher, or you can customize every single detail.

Research and Developing Lab Testing. Our research and development lab will prove to you that our machines can acid etch the components you want and can help you optimize your chemical process.

Scale Up. Consultation with Chemcut design and process engineers will help you scale up from prototype design to full-scale continuous production.


What metals can be etched using Chemical milling?

    • Aluminum
    • Anodized Aluminum
    • Carbon Steel
    • Chromium
    • Copper
    • Copper Alloys
    • Gold
    • Hastelloy B
    • Hastelloy C
    • Inconel Alloys (Ni, Cr, Fe)

    • Kovar (Fe, Ni, Co)
    • Lead
    • Maganese
    • Magnesium
    • Molybdenum
    • Nichrome (Ni, Cr)
    • Nickel
    • Nickel Alloy
    • Niobium
    • Rene 41
    • Rhenium

    • Stainless Steel (Precipitaion Hardening)
    • Stainless Steel (Austenitic)
    • Stainless Steel (Ferritic)
    • Stainless Steel (Martensitic)
    • Tantalum
    • Titanium
    • Tungsten
    • Vanadium
    • Zinc
    • Zirconium

Here is a list of products currently being made on a Chemcut photo etching machine.

    • Washers, gaskets & shims
    • Shadow masks
    • Heat sinks, ladders & plates
    • Circuit lead frames
    • Automotive

    • Jewelry & decorative ornaments
    • Medical devices & implants
    • Screens & filters
    • Integrated circuit lids
    • Metal gaskets

    • Flexible cutting dies
    • RFID antennas
    • Printing plates
    • Lead frames

etching pcb and chemical milling