Metal parts with complex geometries (odd shapes, lots of holes, etc) are often far more cost effective to produce by photo etching than by stamping, punching; laser, plasma or waterjet cutting; or wire EDM.
Phototools typically cost less than $300 and take less than 2 days to produce compared to thousands or tens of thousands of dollars and weeks to months for stamping dies.
In photochemical etching, the part “emerges” from the metal all at once as the etching solution simultaneously processes through all unmasked areas of the plate. CNC punching, laser and EDM affect only a small localized area at a time and the more complex the part, the more time it takes.
From the simplest geometries to the most complex, metal etching is a very cost effective solution for precision metal parts.
In photo etching, dimensional tolerances can be held as close as +/- 15% of the material thickness. Locational tolerances are to drawing nominals because there is no tool wear and the phototool is created directly from CAD data.
Conard produces photoetched metal parts up to 24″ x 60″ in size.