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About Photoetching

Hello there, I’m a student studying Jewellery and Object design in
Sydney,Australia. I have a question regarding Photoetching if anybody
knows about,What Photoetching was used specifically for in the
electronics industry? The answer to this question would be very
helpful for the written report I am doing on Photoetching. Thanks
regards Tamara

Photo etching is heavily used in Circuit board manufacturing. It is
used to cut the electrical circuit onto a copper clad board(the board
being non conductive)



Older circuitboards were photoetched, to give the electrons their
paths. I am not sure that this is still used, but it seems that it
could not have changed a great deal (in the basic idea, anyway).
Ben Silver

Dear Tamara:

It is my understanding that most photoetching in the electronics
industry was used for etching printed circuit boards. Our local US
Radio Shack Electronics Store sells ferric chloride, PCB etchant
(printed circuit board), which is the chemical (acid) used in etching
the copper.

Hope this helps.


Karen Christians
10 Walnut St.
Woburn, MA 01801

Current Artwork:

Photoetching is not used anymore in the computer industry since the
circuit boards are now double-sided to save space. You can only get a
single sided board using this process.


Photo etching is pretty easy. Art stores sell the liquid photo etch,
you paint it on the silk screen, place an acetate copy of art work on
top of it…place in sunlight to cure (the black lines will not
cure) …wash off …silk screen the mordant onto the silver or
copper…place in etching solution…Voila!! (if you have a rolling
mill you can also make prints of your art work on watercolor paper)
Isn’t art just wonderful! Susan Chastain

Hi Tamara, This is Francine from Enmore. How are you? You probably
have a lot of info about photoetching already but if not, I have some
(I almost did my research on it, but I ended up choosing something
else instead). Anyway if you want to have a look, I have a bunch of
photocopies I could bring to the workshop. Just let me know.

Ps: I tried to email you at but the email
bounced back

Hi Susan, I found your response interesting. In particular, using the
rolling mill with watercolor paper. I have a small rolling mill, and
wanted to know what you meant about transfering designs using this
method. Thanks for your creative help. Sharon B.

I’m a Photoetching Virgin, but am very interested. Haven’t heard of
your process in sunlight before. I’ve just read Mary Ann Scherr’s
Instant Etch Technic in Metals Technic. She used a small machine made
by Riso, Inc… I’ve got something similar on order now from Rio Grande
(around $100). Have you used anything like that? Would be interested
in hearing about your experiences.
Gary Strickland

Dear Susan, What a nifty idea for photoetching. Can one use nitric
acid as the mordent?? I use it for most of my etching on
silver—but still use the old method of asphaltum as my resist, and
do my drawing freehand on the piece. However, your idea opens up
new dimensions and I would like to try it. How do you make your
silkscreen?. I have done silkscreening with enamels on copper, but
the screens I use are fairly large, not suitable for jewelry… Do
you have some suggestions for making a small silkscreen suitable for
jewelry—sorry if this is a stupid question.- Thanks again for
the nifty idea. Alma

I’ve used the Riso system for etching with the blue resist sold by
RGA. It worked fairly well, but since it is a silk screen process,
there are often lightly textured areas (from the holes in the
screen)on flat surfaces. I liked the process and the texture and the
screen can be used more than once. For really clean etching and ease
of clean-up, I like PnP blue.
Donna in WY

I am interested in more on how you use silkscreening with
enamels. I have been trying to enamel and have difficulty - mostly
because I guess I am still in the trial and error phase. I like
using a variety of colors each distinct from each other and some thin
lines of enamels within my construction techniques to highlight
certain components. I seem to bleed everything together and loose
distinct colors. Any suggestions? Frustrated in Chicago! Dianne

 I've just read Mary Ann Scherr's
Instant Etch Technic in Metals Technic.  She used a small machine made
by Riso, Inc.. I've got something similar on order now from Rio Grande

The equiptment by Riso is the same as being offered by Rio, Mary Ann
worked with Riso and then Rio to refine the equiptment. She really
likes the Rio equiptment and this etch process. If you follow her
process from Metals Technic with your new Rio equiptment, you should
do fine.

Barbara G.

I have had the Print Gocco System (Instant Etch) for about three
years. It works well for reproducing artwork that would be tedious to
draw directly on metal. The screens are reusable, so that you can
make more than one copy. For my purposes, it’s a great way to make
patterned sheets of metal. I usually make a photocopy “collage” of
high contrast patterns such as stripes, checks, dots, etc. and end up
with a sheet of patterned silver. The last time I etched, I put
patterns on the front and back of the sheet (dry the resist on the
first side before you print the reverse). The gave me maximum use of
the metal. After cutting out my main piece, the scraps are usuable on
one side or the other for something else. You have to cover the back
anyway, and I hate covering the back with a solid resist.

I am also now ready to try a new photostencil called PhotoEZ. Its an
offshoot of the glass etch/sandblasting/photo stencil products. I
have the product, but have yet to see if I can force either a resist
or a glass etching cream through the stencil.

Lastly, has anyone tried to etch an inexspensive quartz or chalcedony
type cabochon with a glass etching cream yet ? I’ll try it, but was
wondering if anyone else has done it already.

Allyson Morrison

Hi Dianne,

How have you been applying the enamels and what mesh are they? The
standard sold for cloisonn� is 80 mesh, but it has a lot of finer
granules in it. If you want sharp thin lines without using a
cloisonn� wire, then what you must do is thoroughly wash the enamels
until you only have the large grains (typically seven to ten rinses)
then apply the enamel wet with just a touch of Kyrfire in it to help
keep the grains in place. Put just the thinnest coat of enamel on ( a
few grains thick) so that the colors are sharply delineated and won’t
spread. After firing, repeat the process being extremely careful to
line up your colors exactly over the line of demarcation from the
first coat. Continue until the enamel is at the desired thickness.
The beauty of the glass is that it will not mix together and if you
are careful you can get very sharp demarcations between colors. Take a
look at Merry Lee Rae’s work sometime, she is a master of obtaining
beautiful line and detail with a minimum of wires.

Good Luck,

Hi, The obvious question would be "how big are you trying to work
with enamels and have you considered cloisonne?

    Lastly, has anyone tried to etch an inexspensive quartz or
chalcedony type cabochon with a glass etching cream yet ? I'll try
it, but was wondering if anyone else has done it already. 

I did a minor exploration of this theme about a year ago. Glass
etching cream takes just short of f…o…r…e…v…e…r to get
any appreciable depth. Concentrated HF takes less time but still too
long for me to consider it a functional process. Both tend to
undercut the edges of the masking and reduce the sharp edges I
wanted. For what it’s worth, sandblasting at a headstone shop turned
out the easiest method for me (small shop).

Warm Regards,

Dianne Your wrote re silk-screening and enameling.

    I seem to bleed everything together and loose distinct colors. 
Any suggestions? 

I took a workshop from Barbara Minor who taught us how to use Riso
screens. My colours never bled. You might need to consider the
following variables: melting point and fusion flow (viscosity) of the
base enamel, melting point and fusion flow of the enamels used to make
the design, the medium carrying the enamels, the heat of the kiln, the
length of time time the piece is in the kiln, the order in which the
the enamels are fused.

Perhaps you can start with a small piece of a relatively simple
design. By systematically varying each variable at a time you will
have a very considerable knowledge of the properties of the enamels
and how they interact.

I think that Riso screens are terrific, I just cannot afford to buy
the heat source!

David in Victoria

Howdy Allyson, Though I didn’t achieve the intensity of effect I was
seeking, I have used etching cream on the crown of a piece of quartz I
faceted. It seemed to be less ‘active’ than on glass but definitely
works. Perhaps repeated applications would help and/or boosting the
temperature a bit? Carl 1 Lucky Texan

   Concentrated HF takes less time but still too long for me to
consider it a functional process 

Normally, I don’t get excited about toxicity, but as far as I know HF
(hydrofluoric acid) is one of the nastiest, most dangerous compounds

Before using this stuff please research any Occupational Health and
Safety Bulletins about it.

David Popham