Photochemical Machining & Metal Etching Services

Our etching services include photochemical metal machining, also known as metal etching, photo chemical milling, and photo chemical etching is a unique manufacturing process used for complex metal parts that require tight tolerances and intricate designs of various  metal materials.

What Is Photochemical Machining?

The Photochemical Machining (PCM) process lends itself to designs of low to medium volumes of metal parts from very basic designs to those which are intricate, thin and difficult to handle. In most cases, “If it can be drawn, it can be etched,” is considered the extent of the process’ design capabilities. Most PCM applications produce precise flat metal blanks which can then be formed into various exotic 3-D shapes.

Because the metal is dissolved during the PCM process, the original characteristics of the metal such as hardness, grain structure, magnetic properties and ductility are not changed during the process. The metal characteristics are the same from the beginning to end of the process, resulting in Burr Free, Stress Free, Strain Free parts in any temper of material.


Our Photochemical Machining Capabilities

Photochemical etching

Microphoto uses precise multiple imaging and can blank parts on sheets up to 30″ wide. The process can work with metals of any temper with thickness ranging from .0005” to heavy gauge. The parts tolerance range can be from ± .001 or less to .010″ depending on material thickness. Microphoto plays an important role in the production of precision parts and decorative items for numerous industries worldwide.

 Photochemical Etching

We are certified to MIL-STD-45208A and ITAR military standards, and are conform to ISO 9001, ISO 10012-1, NCSLZ 540-1 and MPI 2006 regulations.


Photochemical Machining Material Capabilities


Microphoto is experienced in machining several different metal alloys, including but not limited to the following. Contact us discuss metals not listed.


  • Aluminum Alloys (6061, 5052, 2024, 3003, 1100)
  • Beryllium Copper Alloys (BeCu, BeCu25, C17200)
  • Brass (C260, C210)
  • Carbon Flapper Valve Steel
  • Commercial Grade Steel (1008-1010)
  • Copper Alloys (c110, Oxygen-Free Copper c101 & c102)
  • Inconel x750
  • Kovar
  • Monel 400
  • Nichrome 80
  • Nickel (200, 201)
  • Phosphorous Bronze (510, c521)
  • Stainless Steel: 300 Series, 400 Series, Flapper Valve Steel


We’re experienced across various industries ranging from aerospace, automotive, decorative, defense, electronic and medical markets, and are proud to have worked with companies including Stryker Instruments, Lockheed, Boston Scientific, Pfizer, Woodward Governor, Caterpillar Inc., L3 Technologies and many others.



Photo Chemical Machining Laser Cutting Stamping Electro Discharge Machining (EDM) Wire Erosion Water Jet Cutting Photo Electro Forming
Sampling Low Cost Low Cost High Cost Low Cost Low Cost Medium Cost
Metals Nearly all metals Nearly all metals Nearly all metals Carbon steel and most metal alloys Nearly all metals Predominantly nickel. Other metals: copper silver and gold
Hardness No restriction No restriction Problems with very soft, hard, or brittle metals Hardness is a consideration Hardness is a consideration Generally 200-670 HV
Stress No stress Thermal stress on the cutting edge Stress at the cutting edge and close to it Deformation tempering and structural changes may occur in the material Limited stress on the cutting edge Low stress
Burrs No burring Micro burring Partial burring Micro burring Micro burring No burring
Design Changes Quick, easy, cost-effective Quick, easy, cost-effective Very costly and time-consuming Quick, easy, cost-effective Quick, easy, cost-effective Quick, easy, cost-effective
Typical Lead Times From 48 hours 48 hours Several weeks 48 hours 48 hours 5 days
A General Guide To Tolerance As A % Of Metal Thickness +/-10% +/-5% +/-10% +/-10% +/-15% +/-5%
Can Be Supplied In Sheets For Easy Counting & Handling Yes Yes Not Easily Yes Yes Yes





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