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[Contact] Photo etching


I’m trying to find a company that does a type of photo etching
using the old type of printing process. It’s some kind of
greenish clear plastic on a sheet of alumium or tin. The plastic
starts at a thickness of about 1 mm and when it’s photo etched
the low spots get to about 1/10 th of that. It gives the effect
of intaglio. Any help would be greatly appreciated.



Matt the Catt


Matt the Cat, I think what you refer to is etching in magnesium
(the metal is colored green on the bottom) and I get it done at a
Graphic Arts business here in Michigan. You should be able to
get it done locally, but if not, ask me off-line and I’ll give
you the info. The etching can either be dine as raised, or
recessed, and very inexpensive ($6 or $7 for a charm size
etching). Have not found any better way to produce a two
dimentional charm. Best to all. Mike


Matt: In another life what you are looking for we called 'cuts’
and are used in letterpress printing. Look up Printers in your
local yellow pages and call around until you find one that has
been around awhile [copy shops tend to have never heard of
letterpress] and they should be able to send you in the right
direction. Locally was also directed to an engraving shop
[trophies, etc.] that have a laser cutting system that can do a
similar product. I haven’t tried them yet but intend to in the

Good luck


Hi Matt

I utilize such a service regularly.Photo engravers still do this
type of nitric acid etching on magnesium sheet of different
gauges. It shouldn’t be too hard to find one in your area. There
are services for the jewelry industry that use this process, but
they charge much more than photo engravers for the printing
industry. If you’re stuck for a source, I am happy to refer you
to a good one here in Fresno, California.

Tom Tietze
Opals of the Sea


Hi Matt or Mr. Cat,

I am sure that what you are talking about is magnesium. Any
large city should have an engraving company that will do this for
you. Printers still use these to emboss or foil stamp. I am
outside of Milwaukee and have used Milwaukee Engraving in the
past. You need to be sure to specify that you do not want the
mirror image of your artwork, that is what they usually do for
printers. Also they will often use very thick stock, so if you
are planning on making a rubber mold of this ask for 1.5mm or 2mm
stock or you may get a super thick etching. Look up engravers in
the Yellow Pages and I bet you will find what you need.

Mark P.


Visit a print shop. I did and their salesman was only too glad
to show me around. Modern lithoplates have a precoated
photosensitive polymer that is cured/hardened with intense white
light. The precoated plate is masked with a photonegative film
and exposed in a light box. The plate is then washed with water
and the uncured polymer in the masked areas dissolve out. The
plate is then etched with mild acid (nitric?). The depth of the
etch is barely the thickness of the ink on a page. The old
style Italgio etching is deeper and you can probably simulate
that by letting the acid work longer although the thickness of
the aluminium lithoplate at 0.5mm limits what you can achieve.

Pioneering photographer used to make their own emulsified glass
plates with silver nitrate in cellulose acetate solution. Early
lithoplates were thin brass plates. Perhaps this is one route
you can investigate.

Another possibility is to use precoated photosensitive copper
plates used for making electronic circuit boards. You can mask
your design with a photopositive or negative and use sunlight to
cure the polymer. Unexposed polymer is washed off with water.
Ferric chloride is used to etch the plate and all the necessary
supplies are available from the same source. The thicker copper
coating will allow a deeper etch. The product can be used as a
printing plate.

Kelvin Mok (

Home: (780) 463-4099 | Home FAX: (780) 430-7120


Hi Matt the Catt - though I do not know the answer to your
question - I must tell you I am very excited to see Denise and
meet baby Brenna today! I can’t wait. - Guess who this is?


Dear Matt: This may be a belated response, but we carry the
plastic you reuire. It is sold in sheets, 7"x7" and is available
in a few thickness and properties. Contact us for more details at
@Eisinger_Enterprises or 1-800-282-1980


it sounds like your looking for a photo polymer thats made by
dupont and used for etching printed circuit boards. its sensitive
to uv and fairly easy to use the main problem is finding small
amounts as it tends to come in large rolls.