Chemical etching is a technique used to produce elaborate designs on a variety of materials, including metal, plastic, and glass, by combining chemicals and stencils.

At Lucas Products and Services, we provide this service to customers who need to engrave items precisely and accurately and who want to create designs that can’t be realised using conventional laser engraving techniques.

What are chemical etching services used for?

Any design that you might expect to normally be printed on stickers can usually also be chemically etched as the process is very versatile. The technique is frequently used in the production of components during their manufacturing process, which you might notice on parts of your car if you open up the bonnet.

Chemical etching is also very commonly used in the aerospace, pharmaceutical and medical industries, where there is no space for the error of a sign corroding and becoming unrecognisable down the line.

At Lucas Products and Services we specialise in labelling and signage, so it’s no surprise that this is what most of our customers use our chemical etching services for.

Why might you need chemical etching?

One of the main uses of chemical etching is to make intricate designs and patterns on the surface of the metal, also known as metal etching. If you want to put the logo of your company or a certain design on a stainless steel valve, chemical etching can be the best way to do it.

The process makes it possible to make designs that are very precise and detailed, which would be very hard or even impossible to do with other methods like laser engraving.

Chemical etching is a good option to think about when it comes to making labels and identifying marks on big or oddly shaped things. For example, if you have a steel trolley in the pharmaceutical or medical device industries that needs marking with its awkward cylindrical shapes, you might want to think about chemical etching.

The method makes it possible to make marks that are both visible and readable, even when they are put on surfaces that are hard to reach or have an odd shape.

Since the method involves taking away material from the surface instead of just etching the character itself, the markings will not fade or disappear over time. Because of this, it is a great choice for things that will be used often or will be put through tough conditions.

What are some of the typical uses for chemical etching

Part marking is one of the most often used uses for chemical etching, as manufacturers can imprint distinctive identification marks, logos, and other details on the surface of metal components using chemical etching.

This not only helps to distinguish the part but also gives the product a professional touch of customisation and branding.

Another common use for chemical etching is the creation of custom parts.  Manufacturers may produce unique products that are catered to the unique requirements of their customers by having the capacity to etch complex designs and patterns onto metal surfaces.

Chemical etching offers a practical method for producing high-quality products, whether it’s a one-of-a-kind product design or a particular part for more specialist machinery.

It has developed into a go-to option for manufacturing metal parts that need complicated designs, patterns, and other details because of its capacity to manufacture high-quality goods. 

How does chemical etching actually work?

Chemical etching is a precision manufacturing process that involves chemical reactions to remove material from a metal surface, leaving the design etched in, and giving it a unique advantage over traditional labelling solutions.

It is a widely used technology in the manufacture of signs, labels, and other products requiring detailed and accurate designs because it is a relatively cost-effective and efficient process.

The basic process of chemical etching consists of three major steps: masking, etching, and mask removal. To begin with, a stencil or mask is applied to the metal surface to protect specific areas from etching. The metal is then immersed in an etching solution, which corrodes the exposed metal.

The etching solution is typically composed of a combination of chemical compounds such as acid, salt, and water, but can also contain other chemicals. The solution’s exact composition is determined by the type of metal being etched.

When the etching is finished, the mask is removed, revealing the design or text that was protected during the etching process. As a result, the final product is a high-precision, accurate representation of the original design, complete with fine details and sharp lines, perfect for any signing or labelling to last a lifetime.

Are photo etching and photo chemical etching also the same as chemical etching?

You might have come across the terms ‘photo etching’ or ‘photochemical etching’ and thought that they are similar to photo etching, after all, it can get pretty confusing.

If you’re looking to get a photo-etched onto something metal, unfortunately, this isn’t quite what you’re looking for, in fact, it’s an unrelated type of etching used to make parts.

The difference between the two is as follows; the parts that should not be etched are covered with a light-sensitive substance in photo etching, whereas light is used to activate the etchant in photo chemical etching. Sounds complicated, right? 

Well, while both the photo etching process and photo chemical etching process use chemicals to etch materials, they are really just preferred techniques for creating minute patterns or precision metal components that conventional chemical etching can’t manage. 

To be clear, Lucas does not provide either of these services, but if you are unsure of what’s right for you, contact us and we can tell you whether or not we can help you with your project.

Is chem etching cost-effective?

Although the initial cost can seem higher than traditional labelling, because of its durability, etching can often turn out to be a cost-effective solution for high-quality products.

Signs and labels with small text, intricate designs, and deep-relief characters can be created using this method, making it especially useful for labels for safety and identification, as well as architectural and wayfinding signs.

Furthermore, chemical etching is a versatile process in that it can be used on a wide range of metals such as stainless steel, aluminium, and brass, so you can lower the cost across materials. This allows for the creation of long-lasting signs and labels, which are ideal for use in harsh and corrosive environments.

Getting in touch with us at Lucas for your chemical etching needs

So you now know that chemical etching is the process of removing material from a surface using chemicals in order to create intricate designs, patterns, labels, and signs. We offer chemical etching as a service at Lucas Products and Services, and we specialise in etching large items and unusual shapes that cannot forgo typical laser cutting.

So, if you’re looking for a long-lasting solution for marking or engraving your products, or have visions of neat, tidy and durable chemically-etched parts, chemical etching might be the way to go.

Please contact us if you are interested in our chemical etching services. We would be delighted to discuss your project with you and provide you with a quote.

Remember that calling us for a price is appropriate because every project is different and the service cannot be purchased online. If you get in touch with us and detail the product that you need etching, we should be able to give you a ballpark quote over the phone.

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