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Photoetching problems


This is my first post even though I have been lurking in the shadows
for the last couple of years. I have been successfully photoetching
sterling silver in nitric acid using a nuarc exposure unit for the
last 3 years (I have some images on the ganoksin gallery site.)
These last years I have used Imagon Ultra which is now no longer
available and has been replaced with Imagon Rapid. I’ve been told my
Keith Howard (the maker of the film) that Imagon Rapid should be
adhered to the plate the day before use and that the soda ash
solution for developing should be mixed the day before. I hate that
because sometimes I am backed up against the wall and need to etch
at the last minute. I’ve made several attempts using the Rapid film
in 3:1 nitric at 82 degrees and each time the film begins to
deteriorate and lift after about 1 1/2 min and it usually takes
between 5 and 6 minutes to get an adequate etch. I’ve tried diluting
the acid in several ratios but then the acid doesn’t bite and the
film still eventually erodes. So now I’m trying Puretch film because
it is already thinned…again it is not holding up in the nitric. I
guess I’m wondering if anyone is using Puretch with Nitric acid and
what your results are? There is also the possibility of using zacryl
film but I’m wondering if it can be applied with the squeegee method
or if one has to use a press and if it has to be thinned. Any help…
comments, guidance… would be so appreciated…

Shane Miller


I just found a wonderful alternative to P-n-P and Imageon, though it
does require that you work flat and no thinker than 18 ga. The
product is called Toner Transfer System from Pulsar -
It’s a two step process that’s incredibly simple and easy. You do
have to purchase a laminator. I got mine at Office Max - the brand
recommended to me by the TTS rep was a GBC H200 for around $130.00.
The TTS image transferring medium is inexpensive and there is a
second stage Film called GreenTRF that seals the Toner. You use the
TTF paper on a laserprinter or copier, copy your image on to it
then, run it face down on your metal through the laminator, then
submerge it in cold water until the paper lifts off ( about a
minute). The toner is left behind on the metal. You dry it off, run
it through the laminator with the GreenTRF sheet over the toner and
it seals it for etching. I managed to do a very deep etch without it
eating away or under cutting. I worked on nickle silver with ferric
acid. It was a very intricate image with spanish white vine work.

Because I worked in 18ga, the laminator was a little cranky about
the thickness and I had to help it through. There are bigger GBC
laminators that can handle thinker materials, but I didn’t want to
go to that expense. I also had to run it through the laminator 2-3
times with the TTS paper, but I think that was also related to the
thickness of the metal.

I was really impressed with how easy it was to work with. You didn’t
need any extra chemicals or developers. I’ve never had a lot of luck
with P-n-P. I always seemed to get air bubbles when transferring the
design to metal. I am thinking about trying it again though with the
laminator. What I was told was that the secret of the transfer
working is actually the pressure, which the laminator is able to
apply more evenly and harder than a person can by themselves.

It took me less than 15 minutes start to finish to prep my piece. I
used packing tape on the back and edges to protect them from etching
and hung the piece face down in the acid bath using the packing tape
again to hold it in place. That way I get a fast deep etch.

I highly recommend it! I have no affiliation with the manufacturer,
just a very happy customer.

By the way, I was on a very tight schedule, left a message on their
voicemail after hours. They called me that same evening and were
extremely helpful and informative. My order was in the mail the next

Oh and by the way, the paper can also be used for temporary tattoos -
which my 8 year old daughter was delight to hear about.

Ellen Starr
Starr Design - Minnesota


I etch silver a lot. But I use a different set of materials. I etch
with ferric nitrate and my resist is PnP. Since my system works for
me I haven’t kept up with any new developments in etching. If your
system is newer technology it sounds complicated and more equipment

Rather then go into a long discussion of what I do and have you not
need the info…if you want more info on how I do it, please contact
me thru my website.