The Basics

The first step in creating photoetched parts is either gathering materials or the artwork, depending on who is doing the work. I'm going to start with materials.



CAUTION!!!! The chemicals listed below are Hazardous Materials!! Use with extreme caution and ALWAYS read the ENTIRE label before using!!

Ferric Chloride:
This is the etchant available from Radio Shack (among others). Very nasty stuff actually, it causes burns to the skin and stains ANY porous surface it comes in contact with.... skin, clothing, some countertops etc. etc....

Ammonium Persulfate:

Available from electronics suppliers such as Jameco Electronics and Mouser Electronics, Ammonium Persulfate is sold in powdered form to be mixed with water and used as needed. Has many of the same hazards as Ferric Chloride

UPDATE: another source for etching products! Check out the online catalog from Electronix Express. Their PCB Development section contains all of the products you need (except the metal) to etch parts following the information contained here.

Hydrochloric Acid:

This has also been mentioned as an etchant, though I have no experience with it and, therefore, cannot comment.



Resist is simply anything that will resist the chemical reaction with the chosen etchant. This can take the form of: Dry Transfers, a Resist Pen, special Photo-Resist compounds (available from Jameco Electronics) and even fingernail polish or a Sharpie Marker.


Other Equipment

Other things that will be needed (at the minimum):

Safety Equipment!

Eye Protection!

Goggles should be considered mandatory. A face shield is highly recommended. Remember, this stuff can be dangerous!!

Rubber Gloves! These chemicals can cause serious chemical burns to your skin as well! Rubber household gloves should provide sufficient protection, I cannot vouch for the safety of latex or vinyl gloves for this application.

Body Protection! Wear a long sleeve shirt and keep an eye out for the presence of chemicals on your clothing.

General Stuff:

Just as a precaution, you should also remove rings watches and etc. from your person before working with these chemicals as most all metals are affected by this process.

A Work Area: You should use these chemicals in an area not adjacent to wear children, pets, etc. are. Work out of the way so that nothing is spilled, contaminated or any other bad things. A glass or hard plastic table top is preferred, check with your wife before using the kitchen, lol.

In addition to all of the above precautions,READ THE LABELS on the products you are using.



All tools should either be plastic or not important to you. Stainless steel hemostats, tweezers and etc. will be damaged to a certain degree by the etching process. If possible, procure plastic versions of these tools.

A glass pan or bowl to contain the etchant. Plastic containers can also be used -if this is to be their only purpose! Do not use plastic containers that will be used for other purposes later. It's only a safety precaution, but staining and maybe other unfortunate results may occur.


Proceed to the next section