Photo etching in miniature

WroteВиктория, March 1, 2012 в Metalwork | RSS

Or read this in Russian

I’m still playing with photo etching, the results are not always good, but, as usual, the process is much more fun than result. 🙂

Actually the process itself is quite easy, but you need to follow several rules not to screw it up. I’ve found several good videos about photo etching in Russian, but I’m sure there’s even more in English out there. My tutorial will not be complete without them.

So, here’s  the list of things you need to have:

  • Photoresist (I’ve found one in spray, and the one that I use is film photo resist). It can be positive and negative, in my case it’s negative.
  • Ultra-violet lamps, I have two, 25 W each.
  • For etching you’ll need  either old school ferric chloride or Ammonium Persulfate. I used both, both worked just fine for me.
  • You’ll also need varnish for metals like zapon lacquer. I use it to cover the opposite side of the copper or brass, so it wouldn’t be etched.
  • NaOH
  • Transparent film for inkjet to print you pattern on it.
  • Brass or copper
  • Printer 🙂
  • Containers for etching.

At first we need to make a pattern for etching, it can be done in any editor you like. The photoresist I’m using is negative so you need to keep in mind that the details that are black will be etched. Then we print the design on transparent film, actually we print two copies of them, because then we’ll align these two as accurately as possible.

Now we need to cut the metal, in my case, copper.


Then we need to clean the metal with  sandpaper, for example. I also wash it with detergent and I dry it afterwards.


Then I cover the opposite sides of the copper with zapon varnish. It dries very quickly.

Now I place film photoresist on the copper, you need to do it in a dark room.

After that I heat these pieces just a bit, so that photoresist would stick to copper better. And I also need to make sure that there are no bubbles.

Now I put the film with the design on the copper plates.

Aaand, put them all under the glass sheet and leave it for several minutes, depends on your lamp.

The lights are on:


Now I put the metal into NaOH, here it is,  it worked!

Not perfect, the metal sheet was not perfectly flat here.  Well, okay, another lesson for me, moving on.

Now we can start etching with ammonium persulfate or ferric chloride. Here I tried both:


In progress:

And here how it looks with ferric chloride:


After several minutes we wash it thoroughly, and that’s about it.

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