Developing the Future of
Chemical Etching

We’re the most capable photo chemical etching firm in North America, providing blanking and forming from prototype through high production.

Who is Fathom Manufacturing? The largest privately held digital manufacturing company in North America

Chemical Etching Experts

Chemical etching is also known as photochemical machining (PCM), photochemical milling, photo chemical etching or just photo etching.

Lead Times You’ll Love

Newcut is dedicated to getting precision parts to you when you need them, not after. We’ll get you most parts with a 8-10 day lead time.

Quality You Can Count On

Newcut has 50 years of experience in the photo chemical etching business. That means we have the experience and knowledge to get your part right. Every time.

Materials That Matter

Newcut prides itself on its ability to etch special metals like INCONEL® 625 and other superalloys with revolutionary applications.

Newcut

Why Use Chemical Etching

Chemical etching is also known as photochemical machining (PCM), photochemical milling, photo chemical etching or just photo etching.

Designers, manufacturing engineers, and purchasing groups are recognizing the advantages photo chemical etching has to offer.

Some of the benefits of this unique manufacturing process are the ability to make a complex part that is beyond hard tool capability and to fabricate the part in dead soft or full hard material without burrs or metal distortion.

Another significant benefit is response time. An order may be filled in days, which allows the design to be proven without incurring the cost of a hard tool.

Photo etching is a growing industry, gaining experience and recognition as a viable method of working metal.

Advanced photo etching ebook
Advanced photo etching ebook

Designing For Etching

Sheet Sizes

  • Standard size 12″ x 24″
  • Maximum size with in-house tooling 18″ x 24″
  • Maximum size 36″ x 59″ (tooling cost higher)
  • Smaller sheet sizes also possible

Tolerances

  • Standard is +/- 10% of material thickness. Call if you have additional needs
  • Smallest diameter hole needs to be greater than material thickness
  • Space between holes must be greater than metal thickness
  • Inner radius must be at least 100% of material thickness, outer radius must be at least 75%
  • Edge condition is burr free, however, there is a bevel on the edge equal to about 20% of material thickness

Optimal Material Thickness

  • Optimal: 0.002″ to 0.030″
  • 030″ to 0.062″ possible, but higher cost
  • <0.002″ possible

Partial Etching

  • Half-etches or partial-etches (etching partway through the metal) can be used to create bend lines for manual forming, part marking, or other features. Guidelines include:
    • At least 0.002” metal remaining at the bottom of the partial etch preferred
    • The width of the partial etch should be at least 1.5x the depth

Photochemical Machining Process

Step 1: Tooling

A photo plotter is used to create a photo tool which is a negative image of the part. The part is nested to maximize the number of parts per sheet. Two laminates are printed, one each for the top and bottom of the metal sheets.

Parts on computer screen
Parts on computer screen
Parts on computer screen
Parts on computer screen

Because each photo-tool is a made of film, tooling can be finished in just hours and at a far lower cost than required by other machining methods. Additionally, these qualities ensure that part designs can be changed and applied to production exceptionally fast.

Step 2: Cleaning

Proper metal preparation, degreasing, and the removal of surface contaminants is essential for proper adhesion between the raw material and the photoresist during the coating process.

Modern PCM companies have invested in “clean lines” for improved material cleanliness. These conveyorized machines are typically multi-chambered and material is put through a series of cleanings and rinses to ensure proper surface condition.

Conveyorized cleaning
Conveyorized cleaning
Contaminants removal
Contaminants removal

The quality and quantity of the finished parts depends greatly on the care taken during this step.

Step 3: Coating

The material is coated with photoresist directly after cleaning which reduces the chance of surface contamination and oxidation. The coating is photosensitive and resistant to the etchant used to cut the chosen metal. Dry film or liquid resist is applied to both sides of the work piece to allow etching for both sides simultaneously.

Coating application
Coating application
Coating machine
Coating machine

Advances in resist technology combined with new and improved Computer Assisted Design (CAD) artwork have enabled photoresist coatings to accommodate extremely complex features.

Step 4: Exposing

During this step in the photo etching process, material with the photosensitive coating is exposed to UV light. This is a straightforward process that transfers the photo tool image onto the coated material.

exposing UV
exposing UV
Image transfer to coated material
Image transfer to coated material

The metal is put into the double-sided photo tool and is exposed to UV light on both sides, an image is formed in the photoresist. This then becomes a durable image on both sides of the metal.

Step 5: Etching

Virtually all metals can be etched, although some are etched more readily than others. The vast majority of metals can be etched using a relatively innocuous etchant, an aqueous solution of ferric chloride.

First, the metal is rinsed of the remaining photoresist that hasn’t bonded to the metal. Then, etchants are applied to the metal in a conveyor machine. During this process, the non-bonded areas of metal are exposed to the etchants and begin to etch upon contact.

Etching process
Etching process
Close up of etching
Close up of etching

Because etchants are applied to the entire sheet of metal at once, PCE maintains the unique ability to make every cut simultaneously, which can save countless hours for parts with complex geometries or features, and especially for fine meshes and screens.

Step 6: Finishing

The next step in the manufacture of chemically etched parts is stripping off the protective coating of photoresist. Many companies use machines that have a strip chamber on the etch machines to increase efficiency.

Etched finising
Etched finising
Stripping the protective coating
Stripping the protective coating

Now your part is finished! Or is it?

Parts often require secondary processes or treatments post-blanking before they are completely finished and ready to be shipped. Luckily, Newcut can take care of that.

We offer a wide range of services including heat treatment, plating, and precision forming through partnerships with local treatment firms and our sister companies. Visit our secondary processes page to explore our capabilities and certifications, or request a quote for free and find out exactly how we can help you with your project.

Photo Chemical Machining Process Videos

Chemical Etched Parts

Chemical Etching Materials

  • Aluminum
  • Brass
  • Cold rolled steel
  • Copper
  • Inconel®
  • Beryllium copper
  • Nickel silver
  • Stainless steel 

Chemical Etched Parts Secondary Processes

  • Heat Treatment
  • Plating
  • Forming 

Industries

  • Aerospace
  • Architectural
  • Automotive
  • Commercial
  • Decorative
  • Electronic
  • Medical
  • Military
  • Optics
  • Energy

Applications

  • Connectors
  • Electrical Contacts
  • Encoders
  • EMI or RF Shielding
  • Filters/Screens
  • Flat Springs
  • Signage
  • Washers & Shims

About Newcut

Developing the Future

Founded in 1970 in New York’s Finger Lakes Region, Newcut is recorded as one of the nation’s first photochemical etching processors.

For 50 years we have maintained our position as a leader in photo chemical machining technology with a reputation for exceptional quality, accuracy and service.

Today, Newcut continues to develop groundbreaking chemical etching services and to etch complex parts with exciting new materials.

The Newcut Difference

It takes more than age to be an industry leader. That’s why we pride ourselves on exceptional customer service, quality and precision. We have etched dozens of materials, so we know what it takes to produce the parts you need. Our R&D specialists help our clients find solutions for their most intricate parts. Newcut’s short lead times, cutting-edge equipment, and ability to etch special metals like Inconel® 625 make Newcut the ultimate provider for PCE parts of the highest quality, for every industry.

Continuous Improvement

Newcut is dedicated to staying on the cutting edge, as demonstrated by our continuous improvements:

2018 – AS9100D with ISO 9001 Certified
2018 – Built a brand new facility with brand new equipment
2019 – Acquired LED exposure machine for superior developing

Contact Us

Newcut

401 W. Shore Blvd.
Newark, NY 14513 USA
Phone: 315-331-7680
Fax: 315-331-0313
Email: sales@newcut.com

Manufacturing Locations Across National Time Zones
The Fathom Advanced Manufacturing Platform

ISO 9001:2015 Certified + AS9100 Rev. D Certified + ITAR Registered
+ NIST 800-171 Compliant + ISO 13485 Certified

HEADQUARTERS

1050 Walnut Ridge Drive
Hartland, WI 53029
AS9100 Rev. D Certified

620 3rd Street
Oakland, CA 94607
ISO 9001:2015 Design Certified

444 W. 21st St. Ste. 101
Tempe, AZ 85282
ISO 9001:2015 Certified

7770 Washington St.
Denver, CO 80229
ISO 9001:2015 Certified

14000 N.W 58th Court
Hialeah, FL 33014
ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485:2016 Certified

1207 Adams Drive
McHenry, IL 60051

401 W. Shore Blvd.
Newark, NY 14513
AS9100 Rev. D Certified and
ISO 9001:2015 Certified

1920 Slaterville Rd
Ithaca, NY 14850

1401 Brummel Ave
Elk Grove, IL 60007
ISO 9001:2015 Certified

13758 Johnson Street NE
Ham Lake, MN 55304

6415 Angola Road
Holland, OH 43528

1050 Walnut Ridge Drive
Hartland, WI 53029
AS9100 Rev. D Certified

1801 Rowe Lane
Pflugerville, TX 78660
ISO 9001:2015 and AS9100:2016

1513 Sam Bass Rd
Round Rock, TX 78681
ISO 9001:2015 and ISO 13485 Certified

4302 Stone Way North
Seattle, WA 98103