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First and foremost, our passion is photo chemical etching. It is our specialism, and we enjoy testing the limits and seeing what we can do with the technology and the design and manufacturing options it provides.
As well as the chemical etching process itself though, www.qualitetch.co.uk offer a number of finishing touches and post-etching services, such as forming and plating. This is where we can really bring your components to life in three-dimensional form, with all the trimmings.
It might be that you need your etched components forming into 3D shapes, or you might want to make your components corrosion-resistant and more aesthetically pleasing with some plating. Either way, we offer some superb services to suit.
Of course, with these additional services come new materials to get used to. As such, we think it is important that you know a little more about these materials before you make your choice. That is why we have taken a brief look at three finishes below.
Rhodium is a very rare chemical element that belongs to the platinum group of metals. It is usually found as a free metal, rather than a compound, and it has a distinctive silvery-white colour.
Rhodium is a hard noble metal, corrosion-resistant and not overly reactive. Discovered in 1803, this precious metal is rare but in demand. In fact, it is often alloyed with platinum or palladium, as a means of making it go further.
It is most often used, as an element, in catalyst converters for automobiles. This practice started in 1976, but for many years rhodium has also been used to plate white gold for aesthetic reasons and sterling silver for tarnish resistance. The element is even used in nuclear reactors.
Rhodium has a higher melting point and lower density than other members of the platinum family, making it a durable and versatile material. Once plated, it has a highly reflective surface, does not usually form an oxide, and is safe from most acids.
Cadmium was discovered in 1817, by accident, as an impurity in zinc carbonate. Investigations since have found that it is not a naturally occurring element, but rather, a by-product of zinc.
Bluish-white in colour, Cadmium is similar to its close chemical relations, zinc and mercury. In comparison to elements like rhodium, cadmium has a low melting point which makes it a soft but malleable material.
It performs well under pressure, remains insoluble in water and is not flammable. Despite these properties though, it is not used as much as it once was. It is still a popular choice for solar panels though.
As far as uses go, cadmium has many. It has been used in batteries, industry, nuclear fission, electroplating, and for coatings. Its compounds have many more uses, from television colouring and photocopiers, to paint pigment and science.
Cadmium is a popular choice of corrosion-resistant plating for steel, whilst its compounds can stabilise plastics.
Palladium is a very rare and very distinctive material. Silvery-white and incredibly lustrous, it is almost instantly recognisable.
Discovered in 1802 and named after the (then) recently discovered comet Pallas, the soft and silver-white element is good under pressure, its strength and hardness only increasing when cold-worked.
It is actually similar in appearance to platinum, and their makeup is similar as they belong to the same platinum group. Other metals in this group include platinum, rhodium and iridium, but palladium is the least dense and has the lowest melting point.
Palladium is used in electronics, medicine, dentistry, water treatment, jewellery and metalwork finishing like the kind we perform here at Qualitetch. It is even used in catalytic converters for auto exhaust systems.
So there you have a brief guide to three of the material options for post-photo chemical etching processes. For more on the finishing touches we offer, as well as the photo etching process itself, see our website.
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