Acid etching is used both in industrial applications and by artists to create detailed designs on metal or glass. A strong acid is used to cut the metal, leaving behind a detailed picture.
There are two general methods used to engrave metal with acid: metal acid etching and relief acid etching. With artistic metal acid etching, a wax-like form, referred to as a "ground," is created by the artist and dipped in acid. This form is laid upon the metal, producing the design.
With relief acid etching, the wax-like form is laid over the metal, and the entire piece of metal is dipped in acid. The relief results in the created design.
Things You'll Need
- Alkaline-based cleaner
- Acid-based cleaner
- Soft rags
- Engraving tools
- Hydrogen chloride, nitric acid, sodium hydroxide or iron chloride
Clean the metal by stripping it of all oils and chemicals. Use an alkaline cleanser to remove any organic impurities, and an acid cleanser to remove any chemical residue.
Apply a mask, or "ground," to the entire surface of the metal, for relief acid engraving. Typical grounds are wax-like elastomers (rubber) or plastics, paints or tape.
Cut a design into the ground where the metal will be cut. Remove the mask areas where you want the metal to be etched. Apply the chemical acid to the areas that you want etched. This results in a relief cut. In the case of an etched cut, the ground itself is the design, which you dip into the acid, then lay on top of the metal, resulting in a cut replicated in the ground itself.
Different types of metal require different kinds of acid. For steel, hydrogen chloride or nitric acid works best. Aluminum uses sodium hydroxide. For stainless steel and copper, iron chloride or nitric acid works well.
Strip the acid from the metal after the etch has been created. Clean and polish the metal, burnishing any irregularities in the etch to achieve a uniform effect.
Tips & Warnings
- There are a number of factors that will determine how long the acid should remain before being cleaned off of the metal, including the temperature, agitation and concentration of the mixture, as well as the type of cut desired.
- Acid concentrations should be weak, rather than strong, because a strong concentration can scratch or otherwise damage the metal.
- Photo Credit cafÃ© image by gilles vallÃ©e from Fotolia.com enseigne image by xavier guichard from Fotolia.com
How to do Metal Acid Etching
How to do Metal Acid Etching. ... the process of etching involves cutting into an unprotected surface using an acidic solution and...
How to Etch Metal
This is about etching metal plates with nitric acid Other People Are Reading How to Do Vinegar Metal Etching How to Etch...
How to Engrave Metal
How to Engrave Metal With Acid. Acid etching is used both in industrial applications and by artists to create detailed designs on...
How Can I Print Words on Wood or Metal?
If etching on metal with acid, use a ferric chloride-based etching solution that contains about 20 percent citric acid. ... How to...
Etching & Engraving Tools
Etching is the art of making prints by treating a metal plate with acid to produce an image in relief. Engraving can...
How to Cut Stainless Steel Sheet Metal
Stainless steel is an attractive material for metal sculpture because of its superior corrosion resistance, flexibility and strength. You can create many...
How to Hand Engrave Metal
Metal engraving is a process with a wide variety of uses. Inscribe your name or initials on metal tools and equipment to...
What Are Types of Intaglio Printing?
In this method, artists use a corrosive liquid such as an acid -- called a mordant -- to cut into the metal...
Alternatives to Ferric Chloride Acid for Etching Metal
Metal etching is a time-honored method of engraving metal. A mask is placed over the metal, ... Any chemical that dissolves metal...
How to Do Vinegar Metal Etching
This is about etching metal plates with nitric acid. How to Paint Metal & Prepare It for Etching. Metal surfaces require special...
How to Acid Etch Glass
Etching glass can be fun as well as a great way to make a perfect personalized gift for any ocassion. With the...
What Kind of Acid Can Eat Through Metal?
Sodium hydroxide, also known as caustic soda and lye, has no color and can exist in either a liquid or solid state....