Photochemical machining is the process of using photolithography to create a pattern on metal which is then etched to form thin, intricate metal parts.

Our Photochemical Machining Process

Known by many names, the photochemical machining process uses a photosensitive polymer called photoresist to produce a highly precise mask that protects the sheet from the etchant. In Elcon’s process, our team of engineers digitally image the desired pattern onto the photoresist-coated substrate using solid-state UV LEDs. The unexposed resist is removed, leaving just the mask pattern. The sheet is then passed through an etcher witch sprays the metal sheet with etchant from both sides.  The etchant selectively removes the unmasked metal, precisely machining the features of the part. The mask is then stripped from the metal, resulting in a burr and stress free sheet of precision parts. Our tight process controls offer the ability to achieve tolerances as tight as ±0.0005 in.

With this process, part complexity does not lead to an increase in part cost, giving you the flexibility to produce highly intricate configurations reliably and cost-effectively. Changes to designs are easily adjusted with digital imaging, making our photochemical machining process ideal for prototyping. However, the flexibility, repeatability, and precision of the process also ideally suit it for medium- and high-volume production.

Benefits

Arrow up
  • Competitive cost
  • Fast turnaround
  • Burr-free, stress-free parts
  • Low cost tooling
  • Metallurgical properties preserved
  • Design flexibility
  • Wide range of materials
  • Dimensional repeatability
  • Precise and complex geometries

Capabilities

Arrow up
  • Material thickness: 0.0005 in. to 0.100 in.
  • Step etching
  • Half etching
  • 3D photoetching
  • Knife and needle edges
  • Selective plating
  • Typical minimum hole diameter: 1.2x material thickness
  • Typical minimum feature spacing: 1.2x material thickness
  • See our Design Guidelines for more detail.

Specifications

View applications for photochemical machining, the equipment we use, alternative naming conventions, and more below.

Applications

Applications:

  • Fiber optics
  • RF shields, lids & carriers
  • Optical encoders
  • Lead frames
  • Aerospace components
  • Traveling wave tube (TWT) shadow and control hemispherical grids 
  • Vacuum electronics
  • Microwave transmitting tubes
  • Medical components
  • Radiation shields
Equipment

Equipment:

  • Chemcut etchers
  • Digital direct Imaging System
  • OptiBeam printers
Standards

Standards:

  • ISO 9001:2015
  • AS9100D
  • ITAR
  • MIL-G-45204 (gold plating)
  • AMS-QQ-N-290 (nickel plating)
  • QQ-S-365D (silver plating)
  • MIL-C-14550B (copper plating)
Alternative Naming

Alternative Naming:

  • Chemical milling
  • Chemical machining
  • Photochemical milling
  • Photo etching
  • Photochemical etching
  • Chemical etching

Applications:

  • Fiber optics
  • RF shields, lids & carriers
  • Optical encoders
  • Lead frames
  • Aerospace components
  • Traveling wave tube (TWT) shadow and control hemispherical grids 
  • Vacuum electronics
  • Microwave transmitting tubes
  • Medical components
  • Radiation shields

Equipment:

  • Chemcut etchers
  • Digital direct Imaging System
  • OptiBeam printers

Standards:

  • ISO 9001:2015
  • AS9100D
  • ITAR
  • MIL-G-45204 (gold plating)
  • AMS-QQ-N-290 (nickel plating)
  • QQ-S-365D (silver plating)
  • MIL-C-14550B (copper plating)

Alternative Naming:

  • Chemical milling
  • Chemical machining
  • Photochemical milling
  • Photo etching
  • Photochemical etching
  • Chemical etching

Design Guidelines

View our photochemical machining design guidelines and contact us today to get your project started with help from our team of in-house experts.

View Design Guidelines

Request a Quote

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.

 

Request a Quote