Why PCM (Photo Chemical Machining)
Photo chemical machining advantages
Photo etching provides a fast, flexible and relatively inexpensive way to produce a wide variety of precision thin metal parts. Applications for etched components greatly range from aerospace & defense, medical devices, consumer electronics to telecommunications.
Inexpensive and quickly-produced
Photo-tools that are used in photo etching, replace conventional steel tools and dies. Photo-tools can be generated in a matter of hours from a client supplied CAD drawing or data file. Most photo-tools are in the range of a few hundred dollars. Production cycles can be reduced from weeks to days compared to hard tooling.
Fast and flexible
From initial photo-tooling to finished parts, the entire etching cycle can be completed in days. Considering our normal backlog, typical lead times for new parts are 2-3 weeks with repeat orders being processed quicker. However, it is possible for orders to be completed in several days.
Complexity made simple
Chemical etching can produce complex thin metal parts that would be either impossible or impractical to produce by stamping or laser cutting. The etching process produces parts that are free of burrs and mechanical stress.
Material Properties Unaltered
PCM causes no mechanical stresses on metal substrates by simply dissolving the unneeded metal, leaving a flat and burr-free part. Where as stamping, punching & die-cutting cause shearing deformation while laser & water-jet cutting can leave ablative deformations.
The photo-tool, acting like a highly precise stencil, is the foundation of accuracy. It’s only purpose is coupled with the exposure to UV light. So there is no wear and tear on the photo-tool that needs to be monitored. Dimensional tolerances are a function of the thickness of the material. Typically, dimensions can be held to +/- 10 to 15% of the thickness of the material.