What is "Photoetching"?

Photoetching is actually a relatively old process that, thanks to modern technology, is capable of incredible precision for model-making. If you've ever seen a brass locomotive, you're looking at many photo-etched parts, particularly the boiler and tender. Also, there are many sellers of etched brass structure kits and detailing parts.

The process involves making artwork that is turned into a set of negatives. These negatives are sandwiched to sheets of brass, nickel or stainless steel that has a light-sensitive coating, which is then exposed to bright light. When the metal is given an acid bath, the image then becomes the actual parts, as unwanted areas of the metal are etched away.

It is possible to do DIY photo etching; Micro-Mark even sells a beginner's photo etching kit. Bear in mind that it's a long, complex process involving many steps that require quite a bit of equipment and a degree of precision. In addition, you'll need to be able to dispose of hazardous chemicals, so it's not for everyone.

There are several photo-etching services that will do small batches for hobbyists for reasonable fees. This can be a better alternative to DIY, since professional equipment is used, and the modeler doesn't have to worry about chemical fumes or disposal.

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