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Stainless steel also serves as an excellent alternative to aluminum due to its strength, fatigue properties, and ability to withstand high temperatures.

High-Strength. Corrosion-Resistant 

Stainless steel is a high-strength, corrosion-resistant metal.

  • Its exceptional strength and durability make it ideal for components that require high structural integrity, in equipment that must withstand high stress with heavy use, and in harsh or demanding conditions such as high temperatures or acidic fluids.

Stainless steel’s toughness lends itself to various  aerospace and defense applications, including photochemically etched optical encoders, heat exchangers for thermal management, and EMI/RFI shielding.

  • Stainless steel owes its corrosion resistance to its chromium content (at least 10.5%, some steel alloys contain higher chromium content). 

When exposed to air, chromium forms a thin passive layer of chromium oxide over the steel component’s surface, protecting it from rusting, degradation or deterioration. This makes it suitable for medical instruments, implants, and surgical equipment that come in contact with acidic or corrosive bodily fluids.

Learn more about photochemical etching

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High-Quality Etched Stainless Steel

Elcon Precision uses stainless steel to manufacture high-quality components that guarantee performance, reliability, and longevity in demanding environments while meeting stringent industry requirements.

  • Stainless steel has remarkable heat resistance as well as an ability to withstand cryogenic temperatures.

  • It is biocompatible and maintains its functional properties without reacting with acidic bodily fluids or tissues.

  • Stainless steel can be formed and machined into very fine or extremely sharp parts, such as needles for medical use. It withstands processes such as welding and forming without compromising its mechanical properties.

  • It can be polished into a smooth and shiny surface which has high aesthetic appeal.

  • Stainless steel’s smooth surface prevents the accumulation of bacteria or contaminants and is resistant to staining. This makes it hygienic and easy to clean.

Stainless steel exhibits remarkable heat resistance and can endure cryogenic temperatures while remaining biocompatible. That’s why it is ideal for medical applications such as needles or surgical instruments that won’t react with body fluids. 

Stainless steel can also withstand machining processes like welding and forming without compromising its mechanical properties. Its smooth and shiny surface not only offers high aesthetic appeal but also prevents the accumulation of bacteria or contaminants.   

This unique combination of properties makes stainless steel an ideal material for high-quality components in the defense, biomedical and aerospace industries.

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Our Etching Capabilities

  • Etching of many grades of stainless steel, including 304, 316, 420, 719, 17-4 PH, 2205, 4130, and 5510
  • Combining CNC machining and photochemical etching on sheets up to 2mm thick
  • Etching of up to 0.025″ thick sheets as large as 22×12 inches
  • Tolerances of ±.0005″ in many applications

Questions? Reach out to our team!

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Stainless Steel Applications

Frequently Asked Questions

Are there additional benefits of using stainless steel for etching? 

There are many benefits to using stainless steel for etching components for a variety of industrial products.

  • Easy to manufacture: Stainless steel is easy to manufacture and has favorable properties for a wide range of industrial products. It is particularly suitable for etching complex designs and patterns for specialty parts used in biomedical and aerospace applications.

  • Speed: Photochemical etching can produce large volumes of stainless steel components in a quick turnaround time. The process is such that multiple pieces can be etched simultaneously at no additional cost.

  • Cost-effective: Photochemical stainless steel etching is a cost-efficient method of creating high-quality metal components. This budget-friendly option is due to the low cost of tools and materials needed to etch stainless steel.

  • Chemical stability: Photochemical etching of stainless steel does not involve a heat point of contact like in laser cutting. So, there is a reduced risk of deformations or warping due to thermal stress. Stainless steel is corrosion-resistant, so the part retains its chemical, functional, and mechanical properties even after the metal etching process.

  • Ideal for prototypes: The photochemical etching process makes it convenient and affordable to produce small batches of stainless steel parts, such as those produced for prototyping. Also, the process allows for easy and inexpensive changes to the prototype design using adjustments in the digital imaging phase.

Contact our materials experts for a more detailed discussion.

How long does stainless steel etching take?

Photochemical etching involves applying a photoresist mask or stencil to the stainless steel surface. The surface is then exposed to an etchant such as ferric chloride, nitric acid, or hydrochloric acid is typically used to dissolve material from the surface of a stainless steel part (also called acid etching). The layer of chromium oxide protects the stainless steel component and prevents the etchant from damaging the steel component or altering its mechanical or functional properties.

The etching time can vary depending on the desired depth of the layer to be etched and the complexity of the design or pattern to be created. 

Etching time also varies for different etchants and etching processes. For example, chemical etching is much faster than traditional methods of etching, such as hand-etching or engraving, as it offers a more controlled and efficient process.

Generally, the etching time for stainless steel can range from a few minutes to several hours.

Connect with our material experts to get a more precise timeline based on your project’s specific requirements.

Is etching with stainless steel a cost-effective option?

In general, etching stainless steel components is a cost-effective option. But to get a more specific cost estimate, we need to consider your project’s specific requirements, including the design’s complexity, tolerances, and quantity to be produced.

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Our team is here and ready to start talking, whatever your application may be. Request a quote today to send us your thoughts and get your project moving.


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