Photochemical Etching

Trabeculite Cube
Trabeculite Cube

Photochemical Etching
Photochemical Etching

Tecomet Inc. is a chemical machining and etching company that offers photo chemical machining and etching services for the medical, telecommunications, aerospace, defense, energy, and technology industries with a focus on quality, customer service and a fast turnaround time.

Photo chemical machining, etching, or sometimes just referred to as chemical machining, is a manufacturing process that uses photoresist film and highly concentrated acid to dissolve metal in controlled areas to produce parts and textures.

Tecomet is able to precisely etch metal foils and parts, whether conventional or exotic metals, with thicknesses from 0.0001" to 0.080". Tecomet's accurate, repeatable process is cost effective for all quantities, from prototyping to high volume production. Applications can range anywhere from implantable medical devices and components to a controlled surface texture.

Product Categories:

  • Implantable Stents
    • Our expertise in working with specialty metals, such as nitinol and titanium, allows us to manufacture precision stents with excellent tolerances. Our process works by chemically machining a complex stent pattern onto flat sheet material. If a tube shape is needed, this pattern can then be heatset or rolled and laser-welded.
  • Orthopedic Saw Blades
    • Specializing in precision chemical etching of orthopedic saw blades and surgical cutting tools. We manufacture medical components for demanding applications using both standard and difficult-to-etch metals such as stainless steel, titanium and nitinol. Our etched cutting tools and surgical saw blades meet or exceed the most demanding application requirements.
      Our etching process can perform material removal in controlled areas on the surface of the blade. This reduces the amount of heat that is generated by the blade while it oscillates during surgery. This process allows material removal on saw blades up to 0.100 inches thick and can control depth tolerances of +/- 0.001 inches.
  • Surgical Cutting Tools
    • Our innovative chemical machining processes provide us with the capabilities to produce parts with excellent feature and tolerance control. As a result, we have earned the reputation for manufacturing medical cutting tools and surgical blades that meet the highest standards. Parts manufactured by Tecomet Inc. are burr-free and have no heat-affected zones, ensuring high quality. Our proprietary process can also use the etching process to create a very sharp cutting edge used in medical blades. We can machine parts as thin as 0.0001 inches thick, up to 0.100 inches thick.
      To service our medical customers, our production facilities include clean rooms and automated visual inspection equipment to ensure that the parts meet all industry, CE Mark and FDA standards. All our surgical saw blades and cutting tools are manufactured to ISO 9001:2008 standards.
  • Spinal Components
    • To provide the superior spinal products and components our clients expect, we've developed proprietary etching processes that no other manufacturer can offer. These high-quality processes allow Tecomet to manufacture a wide range of specialty medical products and devices. By the nature of the etch process, all spinal products are free of burrs and heat-affected zones, meeting and exceeding the most rigorous performance expectations. Nitinol clips and cervical plate retainers remain an area of expertise. Our proprietary nitinol etching process allows us to achieve tight -tolerances and precision edge control. Tecomet also offers repeatable, non-random texturing for spinal implants through our proprietary Tecotex process. Tecomet is able to provide secondary component processing, including electropolishing and passivation.
  • Medical Mesh & Plates
    • Tecomet Inc. offers precision, high quality chemical etching for maxillofacial meshes. We have earned a reputation for manufacturing precision meshes for medical implants that perform at and above expectations. Our expertise in working with metals that require special handling, such as titanium and nitinol, allows us to manufacture parts for specialty medical meshes.
      Our maxillofacial meshes are manufactured to your specific requirements, with custom mesh configurations and flexibility. They are used for the following applications:
      • Cranial Implants
      • Dental Implants
      • Maxillofacial Implants
      • Mandible Implants
      • Orbital Implants
      • Neurosurgical Implants
      Our experienced staff has the expertise to work with you on your project from research, development and design through FDA approval.
  • Burst Discs
    • Etching is used to cut the outer perimeter of the bursting disc part and precisely machine half-etched grooves in the disc. The thickness of the disc and the depth of the half-etch grooves determines the pressure required for the disc to rupture. Burst discs are commonly made from stainless steel, but Tecomet Inc. can etch them from any metal.
  • Shielding for Circuit Boards
    • Our company is a leading EMI and RF shield manufacturer. We are able to etch shields for the telecommunications, defense and electronics industry. The etching process can accurately produce dimensions while also adding half-etch bend lines to assist in the forming of the shields. The half-etch lines are unique to etching and enable the walls of shields to be formed in controlled areas eliminating a need for hard tooling.
  • Electronic Leads
    • Our etching process is used because of the accuracy and repeatability required in leads and lead-frames. Etching is a cost effective method of creating the intricate features and can also perform a half-etch or partial etching in select areas, which is used for leads that need to have different heights.

The etching process can be combined with secondary operations to produce flat or formed parts that exceed customer expectations. Etching also does not require the costly additional processing that is needed to remove burrs and heat-affected zones caused by EDM and laser machining.

Chemical machining is a precise and cost effective method to produce many products, and Tecomet Inc. has the experience and resources to utilize the technology to its full potential.

Etching produces products that are used for a variety of applications, from medical devices to electronic components. Tecomet's engineers take great pride in pushing the boundaries of etching for a variety of industries and applications.

Tecotex

Tecomet is one of the only companies in the world that can perform 3D etching. Tecomet's patented Tecotex® process creates engineered 3-dimensional surface textures. Our innovative 3D etching process optimizes the fit, stability, bone adhesion, and service life of orthopedic implants and medical devices. The Tecotex process uses computer-aided design (CAD) techniques to create macro-peaks and cavities on an implant's surface with photochemical etching. The chemical machining process creates inherent undercuts on these macro-peaks and cavities, giving the texture a strong grip. By applying coarse, medium or fine texture patterns, Tecotex strengthens the implant's adhesion ability and improves osseointegration.

Tecotex Medical Applications

Tecomet's 3-dimensional etching processes have been applied to a variety of metallic substrates, including pure titanium, titanium alloys, and stainless steel. Etching can be applied to almost any surface configuration or complexity, including:

Implants:
  • Acetabular cups
  • Hip stems
  • Shoulder stems
  • Knee implants
  • Femoral & tibial components
  • Spinal implants
  • Dental implant posts
Instruments:
  • Broaches
  • Reamers
  • Distractors
  • Inserters
  • Rasps
  • Files

Advantages of the 3-D Etching Process

Unlike conventional additive surface coating processes, the Tecotex 3-dimensional process is subtractive. This subtractive process preserves the original datum surface and physical implant dimensions, and eliminates the risk of particulate matter sloughing off during fabrication or after implant surgery. Additional benefits of Tecotex 3-D etching include:

  • Versatile applicability during or after implant production
  • Can be applied to complex surface geometries
  • Reduction in part rejects due to exceptional accuracy & uniformity between implants
  • Fidelity to the original texture pattern
  • Consistent device performance during and after surgery
  • Room temperature processing to eliminate thermal risks & preserve metallurgical properties
  • Open, clean surface that eliminates the need for final machining and reduces the potential for contaminant entrapment.

Photo Chemical Machining & Photo Chemical Etching

Tecomet Inc. specializes in photo chemical machining using photo chemical etching to precisely etch small thin metal parts to your specific application. Tecomet Inc. offers this photo chemical etching service with an expansive variety of materials.

Process

When starting photo chemical machining, thin metal sheets are cleaned with chemical solutions and laminated with a very thin layer of photo-resist film. Using a CAD created Photo-Tool, images are printed on both sides of the sheet using calibrated Ultra Violet lights.

Printed sheets are developed in chemical solutions to expose the metal surface in the printed areas. The sheets are then sprayed with proprietary solutions so that the exposed metal dissolves away. The photoresist film used in the photo chemical etching process protects the material in the areas that were not washed away in the developing process. After etching, the residual photoresist film is stripped in alkaline solutions. Process parameters at each stage are controlled to obtain the desired dimensions and finish. Upon completing a dimensional and visual inspection, components are ready for any necessary secondary operations such as forming, plating, heat-setting, passivation, anodizing, and more.

Dimensional Accuracy

Dimensional accuracy is a function of metal thickness. Better accuracies, finer features, and tighter tolerances can be achieved on thinner metals. Another significant factor is the type of metal and how it is affected by the etching solution. For example, aluminum etches at a significantly faster rate than stainless steel. Titanium etching requires a different etching chemistry than stainless steel or copper etching.

Photo-Tool and Etch-Allowance

A CAD drawing of the component is used to design a photo-tool used in the photo chemical machining process. Adjustments are made to the external and internal dimensions based on type and thickness of the metal to be etched. A layout of the photo-tool is prepared, incorporating the proper etch allowance. The layout is comprised of placing many components on a sheet to effectively utilize the surface area. Using an extremely high resolution laser printer the layout is printed on transparent mylar sheets. The photo-tool is ready for use when the top and bottom mylar sheets are aligned and registered. In cases where ultra-high resolution is needed, a glass tool is used instead of mylar.

Photochemical Machining Specifications

Processes
Automated 2D Etching Lines
3D Etching Line for Complex Shapes
Photo Tool Design and Fabrication
Automated Laser Feature Inspection
Secondary Operations
Cleaning
Passivation
Anodizing
CNC Machining
Deburring
Drilling
EDM Machining
Grit Blasting
Laser Marking
Polishing
Surface Texturing/Etching
Swiss Turn Machining
Vibratory Finishing
Packaging/Labeling
Tolerance
± .0002" (± .005 mm) or 10% of material thickness
Material Thickness
.0005" - .100" (.013 mm - 2.54 mm)
Sheet Size
up to 24" L x 24" W (60 cm L x 60 cm W)
Materials
Aluminum
Beryllium Copper
Brass
Copper O.F.C. 
Hafnium
Inconel
Kovar
Molybdenum
Nickel and Nickel Alloys
Nitinol
Phosphor Bronze
Stainless Steels (300 series, 17-4, 17-7, CRS, Spring Steel, and others)
Titanium and Titanium Alloys
Tungsten
Zirconium Copper
Product Examples
Burr Hole Covers
Cranial Plates
Custom Cranials and Patient Specific Implants
Dental Implants
Extremity Plates
Mandible Plates
Maxillofacial Meshes/Plates
Orbital Plates
Spinal Plates and Spacers
Traveling Wave Tube (TWT) Grids
X-Ray Scatter Reduction Grids
Collimation Grids
Quality Assurance
ISO 13485 and ISO 9001 Certified
AS 9100 Certified
QSR Compliant
CAD Software
Unigraphics NX (for Forging)
PartMaker
AutoCAD
Pro-E
SolidWorks
Preferred Drawing Format
.igs
.prt
.stp
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