Photo Etching vs Stamping

Stamping vs Photo Chemical Etching: Comparing the Processes

September 30, 2016

Both photo etching and metal stamping allow companies to source precision components quickly and affordably.

But like all metal fabrication processes, each one has its strengths and weaknesses.

So let’s compare the major strengths and weaknesses of each process so you know which is best for your component.

1. Tooling

One of the biggest differences between stamping and photo etching is the tooling. A stamping die can take weeks to fabricate and can cost you thousands of dollars. It also requires maintenance costs as it can wear down over time.

The tooling for photo etching is more like a film. It can be created in hours, meaning you can begin production much quicker than you can with stamping.

And tooling for photo etching tends to cost a fraction of a stamping die.

For some components, the initial cost of a stamping die might make financial sense. For higher production runs, for example, stamping can sometimes be more cost effective in the long-run even after the initial tooling fees.

Make sure you weigh not only the initial costs when comparing the processes—also consider the long-term effectiveness of the process for your component.

2. Design Flexibility

Due to the cost-effectiveness and fast production time of tooling for photo etching, the process also allows engineers more design flexibility.

For photo etching, a design change might cost a company a couple hundred dollars whereas a design change for stamping requires a whole new die—along with the cost and lead time required to produce it.

For this reason, many companies turn to photo etching for the prototyping phase. For production the company may continue with photo etching or may move into a different process like stamping if the conditions, costs, and lead times make sense for their component and production size.

3. Burring

Another notable difference between photo etching and stamping is that stamping leaves a small burr along the cut edge.

While minor burring may be acceptable for some applications, many manufacturers require an additional step for their component: deburring.

And deburring isn’t free.

Some companies will just add the deburring fee to your stamping costs or you might send your components to another facility for deburring. Either way, it increases your costs and requires additional time for the deburring process to complete.

By its nature, photo chemical etching leaves no burrs. This means you can usually get your components faster and reduce additional production steps.

Conclusion

While this list is not an exhaustive comparisons between photo etching and stamping, it provides the foundation for making an informed decision when you’re sourcing components.

If you’re not sure which process is best for your components, you should speak with an engineer to help you find which process best suits your priorities.

At Newcut, we can offer both photo etching and stamping, so our engineers will gladly provide an objective comparison of each process for your specific component.

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