Copper, Brass and Bronze Advanced Etching
Etching for Beginners. There have been many articles written on this subject covering the process of photo-etching, however I would like to describe how I have made use of a different technique which makes the whole process of home etching a much easier undertaking as it does NOT require any photographic steps.
The set-up cost for this part of my method is therefore much lower and making my own etching tank from readily available materials has kept the overall costs very low. The basis of etching is to selectively coat some thin brass or nickel-silver sheet with 'etch resist' then immerse it in a chemical that dissolves the exposed metal via a chemical reaction. The parts coated with 'resist' are left un-dissolved. So the process has essentially two steps:.
Apply chemical-resistant 'resist' to sheet brass or nickel silver. Immerse in a chemical 'etchant', removing when exposed metal has dissolved. I will deal with these in two separate sections. The Etch Resist. It is possible to print patterns of toner on a suitable substrate using a laser printer or toner-using photocopier and transfer these to brass or nickel silver to create a etch resist pattern.
Initially I used a special coated film substrate which, when printed with a suitable resist pattern using a laser printer or standard photocopier can be ironed on to brass and peeled away to leave the printed areas behind along with the top layer of the film to form the areas not to be removed when etched.
No such limitations exist with standard laser or inkjet acetate and if you can print it, you can etch it! Using these materials I have made some very tiny nameplates with writing only 2mm high that can be read when etched although you need a magnifying glass really.Acid Etching Aluminum for Custom Nameplates
Depending on your subject material, pocket and adventurousness you may wish to try the special coated film first then graduate to standard acetates as I have done. Not all laser and inkjet acetates work. Before you get the iron out you need to develop your artwork, which is the shape of the parts you want to make. Most readers of this article will be familiar with the sort of etched brass and nickel silver 'frets' supplied by various and other model manufacturers. Here are some of the important features of etching artwork Don't leave large areas of metal exposed, it uses up your chemical etchant faster, just leave about 0.
You should make the parts slightly larger than you want to allow for 'undercut'. Starting with the shape you want to produce you need to draw an artwork which is solid in the solid areas of the shape so for example the outline shape of my brake stanchion is shown in figure 1. This is translated into the following solid shape alongside the other parts needed as shown in figure 2.
The parts are joined together by thin areas of brass. Note that the main part of the stanchion is 0. In theory you can make etchings with a single artwork etching from one side only, I tried this using electrical insulation tape to mask off the whole of the rear of the brass. Firstly the amount of 'undercut' is much worse and leads to ragged edges and secondly you can't create detail or fold lines by 'half etching'. To allow you to etch both sides you need to apply resist to both sides which requires two artworks of course, one being broadly the mirror image of the other.Chemically etching a design into Brass or Copper delivers sharp professional results even on the first attempt.
The skills needed to etch brass are pretty basic, so if you want to create a great looking design that will quite literally last for centuries, etching metal is the way to do it. The key elements are Firstly a piece of metal on which you want to place a design. For this tutorial I am using a 0. Ferric Chloride is the popular metal etch because it is strong enough to get the job done in a sensible timescale but not so strong that you are likely to put yourself in hospital unless you are being seriously stupid.
It came properly wrapped and boxed and had safety information included. There are a number of ways to achieve this. The simplest method is to draw your design directly onto a piece of brass or copper or even silver, with a pen that resists the etching solution.
Surprisingly a Sharpie black marker does the job nicely. Since you want a two colour black and white image, you should consider using a vector illustration software package such as Inkscape, but any paint program will do the job.
Remember to reverse your design so that lettering appears in reverse on the screen. One key point to remember is that lines that are less than 2 pixels wide may be too narrow to get properly etched. Having said that, a design with lots of fine lines can often look spectacular. If it looks good printed full size on a piece of paper it should look good when it eventuallying appears as a brass etching. You can buy special etching inks and special paper, but I found great results came from using a laser jet printer on shiny inkjet photo paper.
To transfer the ink from the paper, we use heat from a household iron. Lay down a few sheets of protective newspaper on your ironing board and put your metal plate on top. Lay the laserjet image face down onto the metal. Add a couple more newspaper sheets to protect the surface of your your iron and start pressing. About a minute under a constantly moving hot iron is enough. Once the minute is up, take the iron away and leave the object alone to cool.
Let it get properly cold before removing the newspaper or moving anything. Now comes the fun bit. Even if you peel away the laserjet paper now, There will be a paper residue on the Brass or Copper. Simply soak the metal and paper in water for an hour or so to soften the paper and then very gently rub away the paper with your finger. With a simple design this could take moments, but with a complex design it could take you anything up to an hour.
I find this part really enjoyable and I like to take my time about it. Now you have your resist on the metal. However there may be a few spots where you rubbed to hard, so go over the whole thing with a magnifying glass to make sure you have everything as perfect as you want it to be. Use packing tape to quickly create a resist covering the entire back and sides of the metal plate. Now you need to start etching. A small disposable plastic tray is perfect to act as a bath where the etching will occur.
Use more tape to suspend your metal sheet in the bath face down so it is not touching the bottom. Now pour in enough Ferric Chloride to cover the metal sheet. Gently agitate to get rid of any bubbles.I had no idea your process was so cool - than again i know nothing about jewelry.
I enjoyed reading it. Thank you so much for making this tutorial! I have dabbled in acid etching, but haven't tried the pnp paper yet. My biggest problem has been finding a resist that works well. I'll have to try the oil based paint marker. I've had better success with etching copper than I have with silver.
Three Ways To Etch Snazzy Brass Nameplates
I forget the name of the acid used to etch the silver, but it eats through my resist half the time, and doesn't etch evenly. Great tip to etch upside down as well. That may be part of my problem with the silver. Anyway, just wanted to thank you! Sue, this tutorial is awesome! Thank you for demystifying etching for all of us.
I have read books on it, but with this tutorial I feel brave enough to try this soon.
Etching Brass Plates
Nicely done, thanks for posting. I've used that paper, but not for a long time, great reminder. Thanks for posting this! I always wondered how it works. Looks rather fun. What do you do with the spent etchant? Sue, You are really very kind to post such super helpful tip for etching. I have been wondering on how to do it as i have plenty ideas but just need the actual demo. All metal clay artist will be happy to see them!! This is so cool, Sue. Thanks for this little tutorial.
I wanted to make a pendant for my girlfriend's birthday but I have no idea how. I don't wanna buy one 'coz I want it to be personal. And the material I have in mind is brass sheet. Suppliers who are friends with my dad have already given me samples.
A brass manufacturer advised me to use thin metal for starters. Hi Lawrence, Brass is easy to work with and inexpensive compared to silver and if you want to etch it you can even just draw on it with an oil based marker. The area you draw will be raised. Thank you SO much for the tutorial Sue.
I am very new to metal clay and once I get a bit more skilled I want to try this.Etching is traditionally the process of using strong acid or mordant to cut into the unprotected parts of a metal surface to create a design in intaglio incised in the metal.
As a method of printmakingit is, along with engravingthe most important technique for old master printsand remains in wide use today. In a number of modern variants such as microfabrication etching and photochemical milling it is a crucial technique in much modern technology, including circuit boards. In traditional pure etching, a metal usually copper, zinc or steel plate is covered with a waxy ground which is resistant to acid.
The remaining ground is then cleaned off the plate. For first and renewed uses the plate is inked in any chosen non-corrosive ink all over and the surface ink drained and wiped clean, leaving ink in the etched forms. The plate is then put through a high-pressure printing press together with a sheet of paper often moistened to soften it. The process can be repeated many times; typically several hundred impressions copies could be printed before the plate shows much sign of wear.
The work on the plate can be added to or repaired by re-waxing and further etching; such an etching plate may have been used in more than one state.
Etching has often been combined with other intaglio techniques such as engraving e. Etching was already used in antiquity for decorative purposes. Etched carnelian beads are a type of ancient decorative beads made from carnelian with an etched design in white, which were probably manufactured by the Indus Valley civilization during the 3rd millennium BCE. They were made according to a technique of alkaline etching developed by the Harappansand vast quantities of these beads were found in the archaeological sites of the Indus Valley civilization.
Etching by goldsmiths and other metal-workers in order to decorate metal items such as guns, armour, cups and plates has been known in Europe since the Middle Ages at least, and may go back to antiquity. The elaborate decoration of armour, in Germany at least, was an art probably imported from Italy around the end of the 15th century—little earlier than the birth of etching as a printmaking technique.
Printmakers from the German-speaking lands and Central Europe perfected the art and transmitted their skills over the Alps and across Europe. The process as applied to printmaking is believed to have been invented by Daniel Hopfer circa — of Augsburg, Germany. Hopfer was a craftsman who decorated armour in this way, and applied the method to printmaking, using iron plates many of which still exist.
Apart from his prints, there are two proven examples of his work on armour: a shield from now in the Real Armeria of Madrid and a sword in the Germanisches Nationalmuseum of Nuremberg. An Augsburg horse armour in the German Historical MuseumBerlindating to between andis decorated with motifs from Hopfer's etchings and woodcutsbut this is no evidence that Hopfer himself worked on it, as his decorative prints were largely produced as patterns for other craftsmen in various media.
The switch to copper plates was probably made in Italy, and thereafter etching soon came to challenge engraving as the most popular medium for artists in printmaking.
Its great advantage was that, unlike engraving where the difficult technique for using the burin requires special skill in metalworking, the basic technique for creating the image on the plate in etching is relatively easy to learn for an artist trained in drawing.
On the other hand, the handling of the ground and acid need skill and experience, and are not without health and safety risks, as well as the risk of a ruined plate.
Jacques Callot — from Nancy in Lorraine now part of France made important technical advances in etching technique. Callot also appears to have been responsible for an improved, harder, recipe for the etching ground, using lute -makers' varnish rather than a wax-based formula. This enabled lines to be more deeply bitten, prolonging the life of the plate in printing, and also greatly reducing the risk of "foul-biting", where acid gets through the ground to the plate where it is not intended to, producing spots or blotches on the image.
Previously the risk of foul-biting had always been at the back of an etcher's mind, preventing too much time on a single plate that risked being ruined in the biting process. Now etchers could do the highly detailed work that was previously the monopoly of engravers, and Callot made full use of the new possibilities.
Callot also made more extensive and sophisticated use of multiple "stoppings-out" than previous etchers had done. This is the technique of letting the acid bite lightly over the whole plate, then stopping-out those parts of the work which the artist wishes to keep light in tone by covering them with ground before bathing the plate in acid again.
He achieved unprecedented subtlety in effects of distance and light and shade by careful control of this process. One of his followers, the Parisian Abraham Bossespread Callot's innovations all over Europe with the first published manual of etching, which was translated into Italian, Dutch, German and English. The 17th century was the great age of etching, with RembrandtGiovanni Benedetto Castiglione and many other masters. In the 18th century, PiranesiTiepolo and Daniel Chodowiecki were the best of a smaller number of fine etchers.
In the 19th and early 20th century, the Etching revival produced a host of lesser artists, but no really major figures. Etching is still widely practiced today.
Aquatint uses acid-resistant resin to achieve tonal effects.
Soft-ground etching uses a special softer ground.Great post Dr. Did you do anything special to get those clean lines? Some of my efforts were blurry Thanks D. Couple of things I might add Dr. You can find sheets of brass to use at Ace Hardware You can also use the other method for resists which is a laser printer Not a Brother model as the toner is wax and wont work and print on glossy magazine paper then transfer over the resist by either heating the brass and carefully placing the negative resist on the brass and then burnishing it As Dr.
B says there are other methods of etching Saltwater, Root Kill etc This method is probably the easiest to do Have fun and ETCH away!!!!! The planting grow stuff. Maybe check Radio Shack online? Best collection for engraving Thanks for sharing it. Gray Laser Engraving. This was my first article of yours that I have read, and your writing is enjoyable and informative! I am so extremely excited to try this, and I was wondering how well fine details hold up I have recently acquired brass guitar picks, and want to make something of them.
You are super cool and I'm enthused to peruse your site into the weeeeee hours of the night. Thank you!! Great post on pipe and fittings can u write next blog on flanges. I read your post and i really like it,Thanks for sharing useful information.
Brass Plaques Name Badges. I am a metal stamper but was anxious to try this. I have had the engraving tip for a long time. These are excellent instructions, need to figure out why I have those two lines. Engraved brass plates. Grab Dr Brassy's Blogger Badge. There is so much beauty in raw brass. It's golden, pure, lovely and a blank canvas for whatever your artistic talents want it to be.
But what do we do with it? If you are like me, you glued or riveted other things to the blank golden landscape of brass, trying to make it fancier, prettier, something-ier.
I did that too and still do that. But then I got really fancy! I took a class from a very smart man indeed. James Faraday Not his real name. His real name is Professor Sexy Pantsbut you can see why he changed it for public purposes. Oh, and he is married to the very lovely Mrs.Part 1: Design Transfer onto Metal. Part 2: Drawing Your Design onto Metal. Ferric Chloride is not a dangerous acid, like Nitric acid or Hydrochloric acid. All it does is make metal rust.
But it does leave dark stains on your hands if you touch it, so use rubber gloves when working with it. I found that over time a pegboard stocked full of tools, screw drivers, wire cutters, scissors, and other metals containing iron, mysteriously rusted much faster than normal. I live in Tucson, AZ where we have a very dry climate and rust is rarely a problem.
So, keep the container of Ferric Chloride covered, or store it away from tools. If left uncovered for more than an hour or two, it may evaporate into the air and attack tools containing iron left in the same room. If you order it from an out-of-state supplier, they will add substantial HAZMAT shipping charges, so it is best to find a local chemical supplier.
Many electronic specialty stores carry Ferric Chloride. So if you buy it in crystal form, ask your supplier what quantity to mix with water to make a solution that will etch brass or copper quickly. This bottle of liquid Ferric Chloride below is what I am using now. It works great, full strength, straight out of the bottle:. I store the brown glass gallon bottle in a cool, dark place, as sunlight will weaken it.
You can cover it with a black plastic garbage bag, but make sure you mark it so no one bumps into it accidentally. I only use about 3 cups at a time, and keep reusing it until it takes longer and longer to achieve the same etch results. When I use a fresh batch, it will deep etch my copper and brass quickly, in about 30 minutes, so it is good to set a timer and check the etching progress often. After you have used the same batch about 10 times, it will take about 30 minutes longer to achieve the same depth of etch, depending on how many pieces of metal are in the acid bath.
I read an article about adding a teaspoon of powdered Ester C to 3 cups of Ferric Chloride to maintain its strength, and it seems to be working. You can buy powdered Ester C at any drug store:. Click Here to Go to the Rest of Part 3.Ferric chloride is a traditional home-use circuit board etchant. It's easy enough to come by, and the Ferric by itself is no big environmental problem.
The Fine Art Of Acid Etching Brass
However, once you've etched a board with it, you're left with a solution with a bunch of copper chloride in it. This dissolved copper is an environmental problem, and you can't just pour it down the drain legally -- you're supposed to take it to a hazardous waste facility.
And it's prettier too. Exclamation point! Conveniently enough, by starting out with a simple two-ingredient starter etchant, and doing a bunch of etching. Did you use this instructable in your classroom?
Add a Teacher Note to share how you incorporated it into your lesson. For the starter etchant itself, you only need two ingredients: hydrochloric acid and hydrogen peroxide. OK, actually three. But the third one's copper. See the chemistry section for an explanation. Hydrochloric muriatic acid, "pool acid", etc. The acid I got is Which is more than you'll ever, ever need. You'll also need a non-metallic container that fits your PCB and two standardized measuring cups.
As long as you're in the hardware store, pick up some acetone if you don't already have some. It's useful for removing the etch resist. That's for another instructable. Measure out two quantities of hydrogen peroxide and pour it into your non-metalic container. Measure out one quantity of hydrochloric acid and pour it in. Be careful with the acid. This stuff at 10 molar is strong.