Electrochemical Etching facts
Electrochemical etching is recognized as the best way to permanently mark conductive metal surfaces. It produces a sharp, attractive and economical design or impression. It does not cause distortion, sharp indentation, stress, burrs or strain. The mark is permanent because metal is etched away from the surface through the design stencil.
Electrochemical etching can produce an etch ranging from less than .0001" to as deep as .0003", through the use of AC or DC current. AC current makes a shallow etch from .0001" to .0002" in depth, depending on the length of time the stencil and the solution are in contact with the metal. The resulting etch is dark or contrasts with the surrounding metal. The degree of darkness depends on many things; however, the base metal is the most important.
For example, some stainless steels give only a brown mark, whereas monel metal gives a jet black mark. With AC, metal is etched away during half of the cycle and an oxide is deposited in the etch during the other half of the cycle. This oxide deposit will withstand corrosive action, as has been demonstrated by its capability to stand up under extensive salt spray tests over long periods of time. DC current provides a deep etch from .0001" to.0003" in depth. This leaves a clear or white etch on most metals. With DC, metal is etched away during the complete cycle. The deep etch cannot be removed without removing the base metal to the depth of the etch.
Frequently Asked Questions About Electrochemical Etching
What is electrochemical etching?
Electrochemical etching is a chemical marking or etching with the use of low voltage electrical current. Electrochemical etching works with the electrical conductivity of the metal to remove the metal and redeposit it as an etch. Using a low amperage power unit and a stencil, electrolyte is applied which allows the electrical current to pass through and onto the metal.
What types of metal can I mark?
Any electrically conductive metal can be marked. It can not mark any metal that is coated, painted or anodized. We do not recommend it for gold or silver.
Is this process safe to use and environmentally friendly?
Yes. The solutions used are water-based. SDS for our chemicals can be found above.
I already have another make of etching system. Can I buy supplies for it from You?
Yes. We can usually supply direct equivalents for all competitors systems. Most of the supplies are universal.
My marking unit stopped working? Now what?
Almost all problems we see are related to lack of maintenance. Clean and tighten all connections, check markers and pads, and use the proper electrolyte and unit settings.
It still doesn�t work. Help!
Give us a call for troubleshooting or replacement. 360-985-2999 or 1-800-775-0797.
My Anodized Aluminum parts don�t mark. Why?
Anodizing insulates the Aluminum surface and renders the part unmarkable by the Electrochemical process. You must deep-etch the item before anodizing is done.
My finished parts are rusting. What am I doing wrong?
All corrosion problems can be traced to insufficient cleaning after the etching process. Parts must be neutralized and thoroughly dried to prevent contamination with electrolyte.
Can I make colored marks using the Etch-O-Matic?
No. Some people will deep-etch first, then fill the mark with paint.
How do I make a stencil?
There are two types of stencil material. The type on stencils can be made using a typewriter without the ribbon, a dot matrix printer without the ink or they can be written on using a mechanical pencil without the lead or a ball point pen without the ink. These stencils can not be used with a regular printer they need impact not ink. Dura film stencils can be made using your computer and printer in conjunction with one of the UV stencil makers.
How do I order a custom stencil?
You need to email in your artwork to firstname.lastname@example.org Your artwork needs to be in complete black and white. If it is not sized properly you need to tell us what size it needs to be. Please allow 24-48 hours for us to get back to you.
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The Etch-O-Matic Marking System is an inexpensive alternative to laser etching and laser engraving.