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Etchng steel....Really!


When I introduced the waffle die last time, I didn’t quite get around
to covering my etching nightmare. After many ups and downs with laser
printed iron-on masks, I was ready to give up the whole project
because I had already spent a lot of time and money on something I
wasn’t sure would work anyway. I was only willing to continue if I
found an easy solution to the masking peeling off with the paper it
was printed on , or another easy surefire masking method. So I started
to look at the Orchid archives…and thought impatiently “Dang!,
this could take…minutes!!. TOO SLOW. (I really -had- run out of
patience. Then I thought that printing onto glossy paper might lessen
the laser toner’s ability to sink into the paper, making the paper
easier to remove. It worked , when I ironed the bejeezis out of it . I
used a 1/8” aluminum uderplate and preheated it and the 1.5"x2" x1/16"
steel (etch )plate , then ironed the print on for 2.5 min. on high and
let things cool off slowly to room temp. Then for etching I soaked
the plate in water to soften the paper and carefully peeled and rubbed
it off with my thumb. Next, into the nitric acid , a varying mix ,
adjusted with more acid a few times when things were moving too slow.
Some leftover paper bits and insufficient agitation caused some
unevenness in the etch but no problemo for this job.

The pancake die and waffle components are heat treating now, and I’ll
have some shots over on the hydraulic die forming forum in a week or
two. Till then, think waffle iron mating with pancake die.

Dar “Moreau” Shelton


Dar, I just read this post (between Orchid and Artmetal, I get a lot
of mail). This is one of the techniques that I will cover in my book.
It is called, Direct Laser Transfer. It works very well, but you hit
on two key points. One is that you used very high quality paper, and
two, you probably had a saturated image to start with. My studiomate
Lorrie has gotten great results using this method.

I just sent your check for the matrix die. Thanks. I hope to be at
SNAG wearing my “suburb”.

Karen Christians
10 Walnut St.
Woburn, MA 01801
Fax: 781/937-3955
Accredited Jewelry Instruction


I’m surprised that you had so much trouble with iron on. I use the
standard clear laser film. The expensive blue stuff is a waste of
money. The only time I’ve had failures with this method were in the
early days when I :-

a) didn’t allow the metal to cool off before removing the film or

b) I hadn’t cleaned the metal well enough. I use pumice and
distilled water and make sure I never touch the surface or

c) I used too strong an acid mix and under cutting lifted the stop.

David valentine