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Chemical etching tabs– An in-depth view

Chemical etching tabs– An in-depth view.

For most metal components we manufacture here at Qualitetch, tabbing parts into the surrounding fretwork sheet for processing can really help for several reasons. This article will look at these advantages.

One advantage of tabbing metal components into the sheet is that if parts require additional processes such as plating finishes, coatings or electropolishing, it is much easier, both for our production to manufacture, but also there can be customer cost benefits too. Your parts can then be delivered to you, either still tabbed into the sheet or cropped by Qualitetch and supplied to you as loose parts for delivery.

Tabs are basically small metal tags that serve only to hold the components into the sheet during the manufacturing process of chemical etching.

We have several types of tabs to choose from to offer the most appropriate solution for your components.


Standard cropped tab.

These tabs are most commonly used in our production for metal components, as they simply hold the parts in-place during the etching process. When cropped after etching the tab leaves a minimal small witness mark on the parts profile, however unless the outer profile has a very tight tolerance this should not affect the function.

After the etching process the components would be cropped from the metal sheet using flush metal cropping cutters. These are precision tools used to give consistency and accuracy during cropping to ensure the remaining witness mark left is as small as possible.

Half etch bend tabs.

Half etch depth bend tabs can be used as an alternative to cropped tabs, as they can leave less of a witness mark when being twisted from the sheet and in-turn can be easier to remove, particularly for thinner gauge material thicknesses. These tabs can be applied to small parts and can be held in place efficiently using just a single tab. This can also reduce time when bending or twisting from the sheet.


Inboard tabs.

chemical etchingThese tabs are used for metal components which may require a critical tolerance on the outer profile dimensions, meaning even a small witness mark that protrudes from the component could affect its use. These tabs would be cropped from the sheet in the same way as a standard cropped tab, however they are set slightly inboard on the profile to ensure the witness mark is never outside of the outer profile border dimensions.

You can discuss any of these tabbing options with our technical sales engineers, who can help provide bespoke solutions for your designs, or call us on 01354 658787 or email us on