It was just a decade or so ago that...
Once Upon a Time....
Designers and engineers would talk to the tool-and-die guys and the machinists about whether something they wanted to make could be manufactured in a reasonable way. Since the advent and evolution of 3D design environments, it seems that little of that practical knowledge was embedded in the coding rules. Thus, the modern-day mouse jockeys have the power to design almost anything, with little to no regard for the pesky realities of actually making stuff.
What are the most well known processes for fabricating metal parts?
For parts designed to be fabricated from aluminum sheet, strip or foil, the most well-known options are:
- Laser Cutting
- Plasma Cutting
- Metal Stamping
- Water Jet Cutting
Although each of these processes have “sweet spots” in terms of being best-suited to a particular type of application, each of them also has unique challenges when fabricating aluminum.
So long, 2020. We won't miss you.
How much more can be said about how brutal this year has been, in so many ways, for so many people. And, I'm over it as of now. It's time to look forward and to plan for better things.
In the midst of the COVID crisis, thousands of companies and tens of thousands of people stepped up to join in a herculean industrial effort to ramp up production of desperately needed medical equipment and supplies.
Aluminum is a light and versatile metal. However, it has a couple of characteristics that give etching houses fits. It is highly reactive and will etch in both acids and bases. Common photoresist film is designed to repel acid, but to remove it you need to use a fairly high Ph caustic solution. And, oh darn, that etches aluminum, too. So, say bye-bye to dimensional tolerances. For many etchers, the headache isn't worth it. (And, shhh, don't tell anybody... but sometimes they come to us for aluminum.)
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 photo chemical 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.
Topics: Photo chemical etching
When the heat is on, many look to photo etching to move it around or make something useful of it--like electricity.