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Photochemical Machining

Elcon's Photochemical Machining Experience

Over 50 years of Photochemical Machining Experience

Elcon has been known for its advanced photochemical machining process since 1967. We are able to produce extremely difficult requirements by tightly controlling every aspect of the process. Elcon utilizes multiple etchants, some proprietary, to process a wide variety of materials including molybdenum, tungsten, titanium, and gold. We utilize both dry and liquid resist depending on your application. Even the size of the metal sheet is optimized based on tolerances and geometry. As a result, Elcon is able to produce finer geometry with greater precision than a standard etching process.

The Photochemical Machining Process

The process of photochemical machining uses a photosensitive polymer called photoresist to produce a mask that is highly precise and selectively protects the sheet from the etchant. Our engineers create a tool containing a negative image of the part step and repeated throughout. This tool is used to expose that image onto the photoresist. Specialized etching equipment then uses etchant to selectively remove any material left unprotected by the mask, precisely cutting all the features of your part. The mask is then stripped from the metal, resulting in a burr-free sheet of precision parts. Elcon’s tight process controls offer the ability to achieve a tolerance as tight as ±0.00025” on some parts.

With this process, part complexity does not increase part cost, giving you the flexibility to produce highly intricate configurations reliably and cost-effectively. Tooling is fast and inexpensive, making the process ideal for prototyping; however, the flexibility, repeatability, and precision mean it is ideally suited for medium and high volume production as well. Typical lead times are 3 weeks and expedited service can be turned around in a few days.

Photochemical Machining: "Is a process of using photoresist to preserve the surface of metal, while using an etchant to dissolve away selected areas."

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    • Low cost
    • Fast turnaround
    • Wide range of materials available
    • Ability to etch precise geometries


    • Material thickness: 0.0002" to 0.100"
    • Sheet size (L x W): 24" x 20" max.
    • Min hole diameter: 1.2x material thickness
    • Min space between features: 1.2x material thickness
    • Flat sheet tolerances: 
      • 24x20; ±0.005"
      • 6x6; ±0.00025"
    • Curved surface tolerances: 
      • 0.07" diameter ±0.0005"
      • 18" diameter ±0.002"
PCM Design Guide

Photochemical Machining Specifications

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