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Get to Know: Etch-a-Sketch

There is a handful of toys brought to market every generation that make a mark, stick around and stand the test of time. Introduced in the 1950’s, the ever popular Etch a Sketch is one of those toys. On the surface, it may appear to be a toy that you can draw on using the horizontal and vertical handles, but the reality behind the face of the toy was of a scientific nature and indeed remarkably similar to the  etching processes  that we here, at  Qualitetch,  utilise today.


Compared to our work that is very much focused on the design and manufacturing of components and parts that are used in almost every other industry, the Etch a Sketch, by comparison, is a simple instrument given to children as a form of entertainment.

How does it work?

The concept of the toy is that you can etch or draw images on the screen using the handles. If you’re not happy with the result or want to start over, you can shake the Etch a Sketch and start afresh on a blank new canvas.

Beneath the sheet of glass and plastic frame is a very fine aluminium powder, and a handful of very tiny plastic beads to stop the powder from clumping. When aluminium is ground to a powder as fine as this, it will stick to many surfaces, including glass, due to a build of electrostatic charge. This gives you the basis of your ”˜canvases’.

Each handle controls a part of a pulley system, which in turn controls a wire with a stylus attached. As you move the handles left, right, up and down, the stylus removes the coating of aluminium, leaving behind an  etching of your design, thus, the  etching process  becomes child’s play.

A Few Facts

  • The Etch-a-Sketch was the first toy ever to be advertised on television
  • It has become one of the most popular toys ever made
  • It is often referred to as “Magic Glass.”
  • The 1950’s  was a decade that brought us: Barbie, the Pogo Stick, Matchbox Cars, Tonka Trucks, the Frisbee, the Hula Hoop, Mr Potato Head and Water Balloons. What a time to be alive!

Similarities vs. Differences

So, how does the Etch a Sketch magic differ to the  etching process  work we do here at Qualitetch?

Well, first of all, we work with sheet metal in place of glass. We use an acid solution to etch out our designs and patterns, much like the stylus scraping away at the aluminium powder. However, unlike the Etch a Sketch, once our designs are formed they cannot be removed by a quick shake!

The fundamental basics of both the etching toy that rocked the world and the metal component solutions we offer to our customers are the same: we create the desired result by etching away at metal.

For more information on the etching processes we utilise, as well as the other  services we provide, please browse our website and contact our team should you want to make a booking enquiry.