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Chemical Etching Vs Traditional Engraving

On paper, both chemical etching and traditional engraving can be described as the process of cutting lines into a hard surface (such as metal).

However, there is one major difference between the two: etching is a chemical process while engraving is a physical process.

The former uses an acid solution (etching agent) to etch lines into a surface, often leaving behind intricate and detailed designs. On the other hand, Engraving cuts directly into the surface with the help of sharp tools. Silver is a very popular metal that is used for both these processes! In fact, photo-etching silver is a great way of manufacturing parts that are used in a broad spectrum of industries.

So, what are the primary difference between chemical etching and traditional engraving methods? It’s time to find out the pros and cons of each method and which is right for your needs.

Chemical etching

A tightly-controlled corrosion process, chemical etching produces highly complex material parts. Chemical etching can be used with a range of different metals including silver, stainless steel, mild steel, copper, brass, aluminium and much more, producing parts accurately and economically. Compared to traditional engraving, chemical etching is a more cost-effective and ideal for those businesses with tight deadlines.

Highly accuracy and complex

The cost of complex chemically designs is no different from the cost of simple designs, as the process remains the same whatever your needs. All metal sheets are subject to the same scrutiny and acid wash processing, maintaining a high level of accuracy at all times across the full sheet design.

Stress and burr free components

During processing, the properties of chemically etched metal sheets remain unaffected entirely thanks to the photo-resist mask that we use when applying design templates. The process is gentle and effective, leaving your original material both burr and stress free compared to other metal work processes such as punching or stamping.

Economical, low risk and fast turnaround

You can perform design iterations quickly and economically with chemical etching because designs are confirmed digitally and applied using a vacuum, removing room for errors. The entire process is relatively fast, and as numerous amounts of designs can be manufactured from one sheet, it is also economical, too.

Material diversity

The range of metals that are compatible with this process is vast. This is arguably the biggest benefit of chemical etching as a process!

Traditional Engraving

Traditional engraving involves the use of sharp tools to draw designs directly onto silverware or other raw materials – this is often for parts and components, as well as guns, jewellery, and other decorative items. For example, designs and writing on metal ornaments and jewellery is often engraved or signage. These days this can be done by hand or using a laser.

This method requires significant strength and skill to etch lines into metal sheets and parts, which can often incur additional cost and time to each order. That being said, the results are well executed and this method is very popular in certain industries, especially retail and e-commerce.

Whether you are looking to work with silver, gold, stainless steel, aluminium, brass, copper or any of our extensive metal material range, you are in the right place. Please contact us today on 01354 658787.