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Etching techniques using ImagOn

Hello Everyone,

I know very little about etching metal but would like to learn the
technique. I have an opportunity to take a local class that focuses
on using “ImagOn” as anetching resist.

I would appreciate hearing from anyone who is familiar with the
various techniques of etching and whether or not this class may be
worth the time and moneyrequired to learn the process.

Also, copper will be the metal used to demonstrate the process. My
metal of choice is Argentium whichI would expect to be no different
(regarding the etching resist) than sterling silver, so will this
particular resist work as well with silver as it might with copper?

Can someone tell me what currently is thebest techniquefor etching
silver these days?

Thank you.
Vicki S.

I use ImagOn regularly for etching. I didn’t bother with a class. It
was pretty straightforward. I just use a window squeegee for putting
the film on, then let it sit overnight. I print transparencies of my
designs and expose them with a 100 watt halogen work lamp from a home
improvement store. Warm up the lamp for a couple of minutes before
you use it to get consistent exposures. You can use Ph-Up(pool
chemical) for the developer. The only hard part is figuring out the
exposure time, so you’ll have to do some test pieces. It is mostly
dependent on lamp intensity and distance from the film. I built a
stand to keep the same distance for all my exposures.

I mostly etch brass and stainless steel. Ferric chloride works great
on brass but it stains anything it touches. I’m moving to
galvanic (electric) etching for all my etching. It is faster and less


Vicki~ I have done ImagOn etching with ferric cholride (spelling?)
and/also electricity/saltwater etching with copper and bronze. Doing
both of those processes side by side during the same week experiment
used ImagOn and PnP and tape and sharpie markers…Love the
electrode method, no harsh chemicals to start out with that lose
their strength over time.

The electrodes/saltwater solution is good forever I was told. Love
the ImagOn and PnP…all worked well with both processes. Out of 10
different pieces two of them did not turn out well…did not seem to
matter which process or how it was etched. It was my own errors that
made it not work well. You need to check the pieces and make sure any
debris stays free of the surface and check them often. They need
babysitting. I did take a two day class. It was very helpful with
little details but I would have figured it out anyway since I like
science and am willing to just try things after reading about them. I
did make my own DC current which was really easy and is probably on
Youtube or instructables. It is 8$ of stuff from radio shack and a D
battery. I could probably set it up and shoot you a picture. Let me
know if you would like that. Hopefully theclass you would take would
teach you how to make this yourself. Mine did. You can also use a
small motorcyle, ATV battery trickle charger from the hardware store.
I don’t believe any of these processes etch silver. I have always
been unwilling to etch silver because the chemicals used are so
hazardous I do not want them in my studio. I could be wrong ~ someone
else will have to share if that is the case. Enjoy creating and I
would say yep, take the class…fun stuff. :slight_smile:


Using ImagonHD is not intuitive and you will need a class and/or
some detailed instructions. If you buy the product from Enamelwork
Supply it comes with detailed instructions. Even more detail is in
Coral Shaffer’s book “Relief Etching for Jewelers and Enamelists”. A
cheaper source of ImagonHD is Takach Press. But you get scant
instructions and you must buy in larger quantities. Good info can
also be obtained from the website

However, be prepared for some contradictory advice. The following
won’t make make sense until you start using Imagon, but keep it
around for future reference.

  1. Using ImagonHD requires that you build an "exposure box"
    whichwill contain your UV light source. This can be a high wattage
    photoflood light. I use a high UV fluorescent bulb and mounting that
    I bought at an aquarium. It is used for keeping reptiles warm.
    Whatever the source, you will have to go through a calibration
    process. Oddly enough, the ImagonHD from Enamel work required less UV
    exposure than the ImagonHD I got from Takach Press. The Takach Press
    also said to store the product in a refrigerator and to wait one day
    after adhering the ImagONHD to your metal before exposing it to UV.
    The Enamelwork ImagONHD makes no mention of this.

  2. Another point of calibration is the development process. Firstly,
    Enamelwork says to use 1 tablespoon of washing soda per liter of
    water. Other literature uses 10 grams. The recommended development
    time is 9 minutes. However, it takes me 12 minutes to remove all the
    residual “film” of ImagONHD gel from the metal. The film is almost
    impossible to see, but if not removed completely interfers with the
    etching process. By the way, I couldn’t find washing soda in my local
    markets and had to order through the web.

  3. If you have been using the PNP iron on technique to transfer the
    image to the metal, it will take some getting used to when using
    ImagONHD. You will have to print a reverse image onto transparency
    film. You can use Photoshop to do this.

  4. Finally, it took me a while to be able to remove the Mylar from
    the ImagONHD gel. The gel is sandwiched between two sheets of Mylar.
    The Enamal work instruction on how to do this was not very helpful.
    Here is what I do. For the “inside” Mylar I use double sided tape.
    One side I adhere to my work table then very firmly press the corner
    of the Mylar to the exposed tape, and pull. Once the Mylar is
    removed, the gel has a tendency to roll up on itself. This can be
    prevented by spraying the gel with water as you peel off the Mylar.
    To get the “outside” Mylar off, wrap the tip of your ind= ex finger
    with double sided tape and press it against the corner of the Mylar,
    then pull.

I hope this helps. Once you start using ImagONHD I think you will be
very pleased with the detail you can achieve with you etching. I use
electo etching with a very strong current which I couldn’t do with
PNP resist.