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PH Designs Services

  • Etch designs for your needs, scale, accuracy, authenticity & detail.
  • Etch design for mass production and ease of assembly.
  • Brass Kit design service for all etched components.
  • Designed for all modelling scales 2mm, 4mm, 7mm, 72nd, 48th, 32nd, 35th and larger.
  • First test etches arranged by me, so if any alterations are needed to the test etches to improve quality or increase detail.
  • Working drawings produced if required, including assembly instructions and artwork produced to your requirements.
  • Full Computer Aided Design facility using several up-to-date CAD packages
  • Photographic service available to ensure accuracy and a high level of detail.
  • Name Plate design for scale models, display case & presentations.

Essentially, photo chemical machining is a metal design and fabrication process that allows designs to be permanently etched onto sheet metal. Think of house number plates and plaques and you will get an idea of what photo etching can do. While etching designs onto metal is not new, photo chemical machining has completely revolutionised the process.
Traditional metal fabrication methods relied on the creation of dies, which were expensive and which eventually wore out. Make a mistake and you had to create a costly new die and after a few thousand runs you would need a new one anyway. This made metal etching a very costly exercise. Photo chemical machining removes some of the elements that made the die process so costly.

To start with, photo chemical machining relies on the creation of photo tools through a computer aided design (CAD) process. This is the way in which the designer draws the required design and makes it into a tool to create the final metal object. Unlike the old system, it is possible to test designs and get them right because of the relatively low cost involved no need to manufacture a new die each time. If you need to make a change, a few clicks of the mouse will result in the production of a new phototool.
In the photo etching process, a designer creates an electronic blueprint of the design, and this can incorporate not only design features, but also company logos and part numbers. Once the design has been finalised, a laser plotter is used to make a master image by exposing a photographic film. Then, just as you do in desktop publishing, you can step and repeat the image, so that you can use it multiple times on both sides of a double sided photo tool.

Next, it is time to work with the metal to produce the desired design. Metals that can be used in this process include aluminium, brass, chromium, copper, lead, magnesium, manganese, nickel, silver, carbon steel, stainless steel, vanadium and zinc. The metal is covered with a photo resist coating, and then it is put inside the photo tool and exposed to UV light, burning the image onto the metal. Once the photo resist coating is removed, the image remains. Any excess metal can be dissolved using a ferric chloride solution.
This process allows for accurate and inexpensive metal fabrication. It also means fast turnaround times, which is why many businesses are opting for photo etching and photo chemical machining.