Photo etching enhanced by electropolishing investment

Precision Micro has added-value services for manufacturers looking to enhance the form, function and appearance of their feature-rich, complex etched metal components.


Leading photo etching specialist, Precision Micro, Birmingham, U.K., has at its fingertips an impressive portfolio of added-value services for manufacturers looking to enhance the form, function and appearance of their feature-rich, complex etched metal components.

The company recently invested in an in-house electropolishing process to reduce lead-times, facilitate greater process control and make available a wider range of finishing possibilities to further enhance the profile characteristics synonymous with the photo etching. 

Electropolishing improves the physical appearance of the surface being worked — the end result being brighter, smoother and more tactile, with a more uniform lustre that cannot be produced using other finishing technologies — but when applied to components which have been photo-etched, further enhancements to mechanical properties can also be achieved.

Like photo etching, electropolishing does not compromise fatigue strength, creating less friction and surface drag, and reducing surface roughness by up to 50%. This makes it ideal for etched electronics components such squeegee blades used for surface mount screen printing, smoothing the surface to ensure a more effective release of solder paste.

Metals are found to be up to 30 times more corrosion resistant after electropolishing, with polished surfaces being fully passive. When stainless steel is electropolished, for example, the process enhances the concentration of chromium/nickel content in the passive layer on the surface of the base metal making it more resistant to corrosion. The stainless steel is also returned to its original specifications by removing debris, oils, and other contaminants, removing the need for further post-passivation treatment.

Smoothing the surface by electropolishing eliminates micro peaks, making components less prone to bacterial contamination and far easier to sterilise effectively. Precision Micro electropolishes in excess of 100,000 medical instruments each year, including sagittal and oscillating bone saw blades used for knee and hip replacement surgery, ensuring a smoother cut and reducing the risk of infection.

Precision Micro offers electropolishing in addition to its other in-house post-process finishing services — including forming, passivation, wire EDM, heat treatment, electroplating, bonding, brazing and anodising — all of which complement photo etching and enable its customers to reduce their supplier base.

Click here for more information.