Photofabrication Engineering Inc.

Enabling New Technologies through Metal Etching Applications

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Photo Etching

PEI specializes in using photo etching to manufacture decorative products and precision metal parts at competitive prices. PEI’s photo etching process – also known as photochemical machining – produces intricate, burr-free and stress-free metal parts.

The photo etching process eliminates deformation created by metal stamping processes. It also makes it possible to fabricate metal parts with very tight tolerances that are comparable, if not better than, other production methods. PEI uses photo etching to create:

How Does Photo Etching Work?

Metal photo etching uses a chemical action to remove selected areas while preserving the remaining surface, in a manner similar to photoengraving.

Our process involves several steps:

  1. Preparation of the metal. Once the material has been cut to the specified sheet size, it must be cleaned so that all contaminants are removed from the surface.
  2. Application of photoresist. The metal sheet is coated with a dry-film photoresist through a hot roll lamination system.
  3. Creating the phototool. When a new part or decorative item is ordered, PEI makes a Mylar tool from either a fully-dimensional drawing or a CAD file.
  4. Printing. The phototool image is transferred to the metal sheet by activating a UV-sensitive polymer within the photoresist. This exposure to UV light “prints” the image onto the sheet.
  5. Developing & Etching. Before the actual etching can begin, the unexposed areas of the photoresist must be rinsed-off in an alkaline solution. The appropriate etchant for the metal being used is then applied with a conveyorized spray system, dissolving the bare metal until the parts are created meeting the customers' exact specifications.
  6. Stripping. The remaining photoresist is removed, leaving clean, burr- and stress-free parts.

Why PEI?

By performing the entire photo etching process (including the creation of phototools) in-house, PEI is able to keep costs down and offer a quick turnaround for both prototypes and production orders. Delivery typically occurs three weeks from receipt of order and customer prints. Our commitment to adhering to precise tolerances and high quality standards has earned us ISO 9001:2008, AS-9100, and ITAR certifications.

PEI’s experience and unique methods make us a leader in custom and standard photo etching, and we’re able work with a wide range of metals and/or their alloys, including:

  • aluminum
  • beryllium copper
  • brass
  • bronze
  • copper
  • gold
  • kovar
  • magnesium
  • molybdenum
  • nickel & nickel silver
  • pewter
  • silver
  • stainless steel
  • tin
  • titanium
  • zinc
  • zirconium

PEI’s skilled team of engineers have the experience to ensure that your concept and design will not only be understood, but will ve created to your specifications, on time and on budget.

To submit a request for a quote (RFQ), please fill-out our online form.