Etching Titanium Parts Made Easy with Photochemical Etching

Stemming from optical lithography, chemical etching is a machining process that helps remove metal to produce metal parts in whatever thickness and shape suitable to your project. You can use many different materials to produce metal parts, and titanium is a preferred choice for many.

Titanium is a great choice because of its amazing strength-to-weight ratio, low-coefficient of thermal expansion, and biocompatibility. However, all these attributes make it difficult to machine through conventional sheet metal working. Standard etch-chemistries usually fail to work on titanium because of its powerful resistance to corrosion. That is actually quite amazing to see that titanium has such amazing corrosion resistance even though the native oxide film on it is quite thin. Thanks to this oxide film, which is continuous, consistent, and highly stable, titanium is the material of choice for many specific applications.

Photochemical etching is the preferred choice to produce patterns on titanium. It involves using an oxidizing reagent to help create specific patterns. Instead of photochemical etching, some people also opt for wet photochemical etching of titanium. This task is achieved by using a mixture of nitric acids and hydrofluoric acid – sometimes, only hydrofluoric acid is used for etching.

The nitric acid is mostly used to reduce hydrogen absorption when using hydrofluoric acid. However, you may not always get good results by using nitric acid and hydrofluoric acid. You may want to avoid hydrofluoric acid because it is a safety and health hazard. The fluoride ion can easily penetrate the skin and cause serious damage. This is the reason why photochemical etching is probably the better option for etching titanium parts.

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Applications
Photo etching can be used in many different industries and fields.  The use of titanium opens up even more possibilities for applications that need a combo of strength, lightweight, bio-compatible, and corrosion resistance material. The technology can be used to make bio-compatible dental and cranial implants – the biggest benefit is that titanium has zero thermal distortion. Pacemakers use think cathode battery grids that can be photo etched to ensure reliable energy supply. Similarly, there are titanium foils used in the fuel tanks of satellites, and it is possible to make them thinner with the help of photo chemical etching.

The fact of the matter is that titanium is one great material choice for many different applications. However, you need to ensure that you select the most reliable titanium etching service to handle all your projects. When it comes to etching titanium parts, quality matters a lot. Keep in mind that not all etching companies are titanium etching specialists. Therefore, it makes great sense to take your time and conduct some research before finalizing your decision.

Moreover, you should be working with a specialist who has complete knowledge of different materials and can help you in selecting right material for your application. And of course, they should be willing to offer a custom prototype to help you get an idea about what to expect.

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About the Author: Parvesh Bravo

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