Reduce Manufacturing Costs with Photo Etching

Reduce Your Tooling Fees with Photochemical Etching

July 14, 2016

Part 2 of 3

Our last post discussed how photochemical etching reduces your production costs by eliminating costly deburring. Now let's see how we can reduce those costs even further by examining tooling costs.

How Much Does Tooling Cost?

The cost of tooling varies depending on the method for which you're tooling and the complexity of your tool. The initial tooling cost for a stamping die, for example, can range anywhere from hundreds of dollars to thousands of dollars.

The cost of traditional tooling photo is high because of the complex process of creating the tools. A simple punch and die, for example, can require design/engineering, multiple stages of production and finishing to ensure it meets your specifications. More complex designs will require even more design and even more time to meet your specs - all of which translates to more time and higher costs.

How About Photoetching Costs?

Phototooling is produced in much less time and with fewer expenses.

The process begins with a design, usually provided in a CAD file. The design is then plotted onto a film that defines the design for the photo chemical etching process. That's it. The tooling is complete. The film will then define the shape of the photoresist in the photoetching process.

Film displaying plotted design

Converting a CAD file to film generally takes just hours. Traditional tooling methods, by comparison, usually take days or weeks to complete. And since the labor and materials are relatively inexpensive, your costs for the tooling are minimal by comparison.

Tooling Maintenance and Replacement Costs

You're not only reducing costs with the initial tooling costs -- you'll also see reduced costs over the lifetime of the tool.

Over time, traditional tools can wear down. You will need to maintain them to ensure they keep performing to your specifications.

And maintenance is going to cost you.

Sometimes, the wear will be too much and you will need to replace the tooling. This means you'll be paying your initial tooling costs again.

Tooling for photo chemical etching, on the other hand, doesn't face the physical wear that tools like dies and stamps do. You won't need to pay maintenance costs for the film because it doesn't require the same maintenance as other do.

Even if your tooling does need replacement, the cost is far more digestible than it would be with traditional tooling. In fact, in many cases there’s no charge to the customer to replace the film.

Other Posts in the Series:

Part 1: Eliminate Deburring Costs: How Photo Etching Reduces Production Costs
Part 3: Get More Complex Designs at No Extra Cost with Photo Etching

Advanced photo etching tips design engineers should know.