MAKING SIMPLE PHOTO ETCHED PARTS
I will warn you right now that this method wont produce PE parts like the one you see in aftermarket kits. With patience you can get good results but you will have to determine if this is worth the effort. I will also have to warn you that the chemicals involved are very corrosive and proper safety procedures and protection should be followed. To produce professional results you will have to invest quite a bit of money in machinery and chemicals. Since I am not familiar with how to set up that type of operation I can not offer any advice on that subject.
At this moment there are no diagrams but I hope to add some later.
STEPS AS FOLLOWS
1. Design what you want on a computer or draw it out to the size you want it. Note that your image has to be done backwards. Whatever is black will be what you want to keep.
2. Photo copy this onto clear over head film or you can directly print it from a laser printer. You can draw the image in a larger size and reduce it on the photocopier but I noticed that you quickly start to lose the finer detail if you do this more than once. The best results appears to come straight from a laser printer onto the clear film.
Here is where the technical mumbo jumbo comes. The heat fuses the toner from the photo copier or laser printer onto the clear film. The idea is to apply heat to the clear film so it releases and sticks onto the item to be etched.
3. Lay the clear film onto your sheet to be etched (ie brass). To keep the clear film straight I usually apply some tape to one side. I generally use thinner gauge brass sheets (0.015"). Any thicker and it will take too long to etch, which produces undercuts in the finished products.
4. With an iron you iron the clear sheet until it transfers the image to the brass sheet. This takes quite a bit of practice so make many copies of your image. This appears to work with only one pass of the iron. More passes of the iron appears to produce smudged images (clear film has moved) or the black toner comes off the brass and back onto the clear film.
5. When satisfied with several images you can now do the etching.
6. Radio Shack and electronic stores should have the chemicals you need. For etching brass or copper you need Ferric Chloride. For proper etching you should heat and agitate the chemical. To keep the brass etching the chemical has to be constantly washed over the brass sheet.
Apply scotch tape to the back of sheet to prevent etching there. Scotch tape off a lot of the brass sheet. This reduces the amount of brass to be etched and saves your chemicals. The chemicals can only etch so much brass or copper before you have to get new stuff.
Some times you have small errors in your transfer. With a black marker some of these errors can be fixed and your transfer saved. Radioshack sells these markers for drawing circuit boards. Buy one of these to use. This marker appears to be just a normal black marker. So if you can't get one specifically for drawing circuit boards try this.
Note: With this method you can make neat custom name plates out of brass. Draw or make your design, iron on the pattern and voila.
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