Photofab

Frequently Asked Questions

What is photo chemical etching?

A process used to produce thin, flat metal components, using acids to cut through the metal to produce the shape required. Also known as Chemical Milling and Photo Etching.

Where would you use this type of process?

In both engineering component such as; shims, screening cans, encoder disc etc or decorative components such as; business cards, book marks, plaques etc.

What metals can be etched?

Almost all metals. Stainless steel, aluminium, other steels, yellow metals etc. There are only a few that we are unable to etch such as Tungsten and Titanium.

What is the thinnest metal that can be etched?

The thinner – the better! With very fine material such as 0.002″ or less, we may wish to mount the metal onto a sticky back paper. Parts can be removed from the sticky back paper using a 50/50 solution of acetone and white spirit.

What is the thickest metal you can work with?

This depends on the material and the application. Should we need to etch all the way through a piece of metal, then the thickest we would be prepared to etch would be 1mm in stainless steel and 1.5mm in yellow metals. If we are manufacturing a decorative component such as a plaque, where only surface etch is required or screen-printed images, then the material can be thicker.

Is etching and in-filling better than screen-printing or sublimation printing?

There is no right or wrong answer – it depends on the component. Contact us for further information, telephone 01480 226699.

How accurate is the process? (What are the tolerances achievable?)

Depending on your requirement we can achieve a minimum working tolerance of +/- 10% of metal thickness or +/- 0.025mm, whichever is greater.

How small can apertures, holes, bars etc be?

Generally all detail must be equal to a minimum of 0.1mm, however this can be improved upon depending on your requirement.  Please contact us to find out.

What types of electronic files can you accept?

For quotation purposes we can open and read most types of electronic file. For manufacture, we prefer CAD files: dxf, dwg or IGES. However, we also accept image files such as Illustrator, pdf and eps. Please contact us if you wish to use another file format.

How fast can you manufacture prototypes?

We look at each part required, and give a realistic lead-time to meet the customer’s requirement. Depending on production schedules, prototypes can be turned around within 48 hours.

What is the PCGT charge for?

PCGT stands for Part Cost Graphic Tooling and refers to the photo-tool that is required to make any part. We only ask you to pay a portion of the cost. We will then not allow anyone to order or ask for a quote that involves using your tooling, without your written permission.

Can you make a mixed sheet of parts?

Yes! This can be done, but a) only if all parts are to be made from the same thickness and type of material, and b) if all parts are to be ordered in similar quantities at the same time in the future. Contact us for further information, telephone 01480 226699.

When do we use tabs to hold parts in sheet form?

When the parts are very small, and made from thin material, to stop them ‘flying away’ when in contact with jets of acid. Tabs are also used when a part is being plated after etching, as it is much more cost effective to plate a sheet of parts than individual parts.

What metals can be cut using the Laser cutting service?

Virtually any metal can be laser cut ranging in thickness depending on metal type.

Can you include both the Chemical Milling and Laser Cutting process on the same piece of metal?

Yes, for example Photofab can etch detail into the surface of the metal, and then laser cut the profile.

Does the gas used when laser cutting make a difference?

Yes it does, by changing the gases we can produce an edge finish on stainless steel as clean as the natural material. This is especially useful in medical and aerospace requirements.

What additional services can you offer?

Forming, plating/coating, heat-treating, painting, in-filling, screen-printing, soldering, stud welding or drilling holes.

What if my query isn’t covered above?

Please fill in your email address and the nature of your enquiry below, and we will reply quickly to you.

Learn more



Privacy Statement

Here at Photofab we take privacy seriously and will only use your personal information to administer your account and to provide news, products and services that may be of interest. If you consent to us contacting you for this purpose please tick below:

Keep up to date

Photofab can bring your chemical etching project to life, call us today on 01480 226699 or contact us using the form. Join us on social media for the latest news and updates

Follow us on LinkedIn   Follow us on Twitter   Follow us on YouTube

Company Overview

Customer Service

News

FAQs

Terms and Conditions

Approvals and Accreditations

Policies

Company Overview

Photofab, a world leader in photo chemical etching and forming Photofab was in 1971 as a specialist photo chemical machining company.We are world leaders in the development of photochemical technology to produce intricately shaped components. More than 70,000 different components have been produced. If you can draw it, we can make it as long as it’s in thin sheet metal. …

Read More

Customer Service

Customer service Photofab believe that enhanced service is given by having a “single point of contact” – namely an Account Manager, who champion the customers’ cause internally. This allows: A personal and consistent serviceOne person always there with knowledge of the customers’ needsIn depth knowledge of the customers’ partsGreater awareness of customer requirements.Fast response to customer requests. Technology investment to …

Read More

FAQs

What is photo chemical etching? A process used to produce thin, flat metal components, using acids to cut through the metal to produce the shape required. Also known as Chemical Milling and Photo Etching. Where would you use this type of process? In both engineering component such as; shims, screening cans, encoder disc etc or decorative components such as; business …

Read More

Terms and Conditions

Terms & conditions of purchase 1. INTERPRETATION 1.1 The definitions and rules of interpretation in this condition apply in these conditions. Company: Photofab Limited, company number 1001985, whose registered office is at 14 Cromwell Road, St Neots, Cambs. PE19 2HP. Contract: the Order and the Seller’s acceptance of the Order. Goods: any goods agreed in the Contract to be bought …

Read More

Approvals and Accreditations

Photofab is proud to have achieved both the very latest quality and environmental ISO standards. This demonstrates Photofab’s commitment to rigorous product quality standards as well as a high level of customer service without compromising the environmental. BS EN ISO 9001: 2015BS EN ISO 14001: 2015BH OHSAS 18001: 2007ADS SC21 Programme

Read More

Policies

Photofab endeavours to conduct its business in accordance with established best practice regulation. The company aims to be a responsible employer and adopt values and standards designed to help guide our staff in their conduct and business relationships. Quality Policy CSR Statement Privacy Policy Environmental Policy Energy and Water Policy RoHS and REACH Legislation

Read More