Acid Etching Images into Metal


Much of the promise of rapid prototyping and fabrication techniques is the ability to transform an idea from concept to a high fidelity 3D copy, which can then be produced in mass.

While you can achieve a lot of control in image software, I was still new to learning digital tools and felt more control with sketching directly from hand to paper. I was interested in replicating hand-made sketches using methods like metal etching and laser-cutting, partially because there's something inherently cool about seeing an organic image become a replicable signal.

Below are examples of my foray into acid-etching a sketch into metal with muriatic acid. There is also a side example of a sketch being laser-cut into wood.

Original Sketch

Final Acid-Etched Copper

Original Sketch

Final Laser-Cut Wood


The Process

Step 1: Produce an image

Step 4: Place the metal with the photoresist in a bath of muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide

Step 2: Scan image and make a transparency

Step 5: The acid etches away at any of the exposed metal that is not covered by the blue photoresist material.

Step 3: Adhere a layer of photoresist to the metal. Use UV light exposure to transfer the transparency to the photoresist.

Step 6: Partially etched brass


A variation: I liked the color of the blue photoresist, so in this case, I kept the photoresist adhered to the metal without acid etching. I then used a jeweler's saw to cut the outline.