We've seen it time and again. From never heard of it to can't manage without it. Photo etching becomes the go-to solution for precision metal parts fabricating once people understand its advantages. Among the key features are inexpensive, rapidly produced phototools ( 1 day), the ability to process metal foils as thin as .0005 inches (really!), and completely "stress free machining": no burrs and no mechanical or thermal effects.
Many design platforms now offer some basic cost estimating for the fabrication processes that are already programmed in. But NONE of them know anything about photochemical machining, so how can you be expected to know whether etching might be your best option.
In my experience, professionals involved in designing, engineering, and sourcing precision metal components have a pretty good grasp of a variety of fabrication processes. Except for photochemical machining (metal etching), to which the response is usually a blank look, shrugged shoulders and a negative head nod. You don't have to be one of those people any more.
You may be aces on the intricacies of stamping, laser, plasma, waterjet and EDM. But what do you know about the other metal fabrication process that is solving problems for engineers in many industries every day? “Which one?” you ask?
The first Friday of October - known as National Manufacturing Day - kicks off what is now considered Manufacturing Month here in the U.S. All throughout the month, manufacturers and educational institutions will lead discussions and panels about the state of U.S. manufacturing now and in the future. The American manufacturing industry has never been as exciting as it is today, with so many different technological and industrial innovations converging to change the sector as a whole.