Reduce the Cost of Optical Encoder Wheels and Strips

How to Reduce the Cost of Optical Encoder Wheels and Strips

Many companies pay too much to produce their encoder wheels and strips, especially when they require a precise design with high slot counts.

The problem lies in the manufacturing process. Many companies still turn to processes like laser cutting to produce their components, but they don’t realize there’s a more cost-effective option: photo chemical etching.

Let’s look at how photo etching can reduce the costs of your encoder wheels and strips.

Cost-Effective Tooling

Whereas tooling for some cutting methods can cost you thousands of dollars, phototooling will generally cost you somewhere in the range of $100 - $300.

Not only does this means a lower up-front cost, it also means a lower maintenance and replacement fees. If you do need to replace the phototooling—most of them last years without need for replacement—you’re only down a couple hundred, not a couple thousand dollars.

And since phototooling doesn’t endure physical stress like stamping dies do, it doesn’t wear down and require expensive maintenance fees.

Greater Complexity at No Extra Cost

When you’re producing encoder wheels and strips with high slot counts, you’ll see tons of savings from the photo etching process.

Many cutting methods like laser cutting and waterjet only cut one slot at a time. In turn, they require more time and more money as your encoder gets more complex.

Photo etching, on the other hand, etches all slots and shapes simultaneously. This means your costs remain the same as the design complexity increases.


If you’re sourcing encoder wheels or encoder strips, you could be paying too much by not considering photo chemical etching.

As encoder components grow in complexity, photo etching often becomes an even better solution. Not only do you save in tooling fees, your actual cost per component can be drastically reduced.


Advanced photo etching tips design engineers should know.