Lancaster Metals Science Corp.
Since 1977, Lancaster Metals Science Corporation has met industries’ need for precision metal parts and components through its photochemical machining services.
Any metal that Lancaster Metals etches in conventional panels including copper, aluminum and stainless steels can be processed in this reel-to-reel format. All the advantages normally associated with metal etching including the production of burr-free parts; the ability to produce fine, intricate geometries; dimensional repeatability; the ability to etch surface features such as grooves or channels and the cutting of metal without disturbing the intrinsic characteristics of the base metal are also present in continuous processing. In addition, the tooling requirements for reel-to-reel etching are comparable to the low cost tooling associated with discrete sheet etching. During imaging, the continued dimensional accuracy of the tooling is assured by environmental controls within the reel-to-reel print line itself and verified by the systems ability to measure and monitor tooling dimensions.
At the heart of Lancaster Metals’ reel to reel etching is the ability to image continuous strip and maintain precise registration and alignment between sequentially exposed and imaged panels. As digital imaging technology evolved, improved and became more widespread in manufacturing, it found its way into reel to reel printing for photochemically etched product. In 2007 Lancaster Metals upgraded its reel to reel printing with one of the first machines that employed digital imaging and optical targeting to achieve precise panel to panel registration and alignment. In 2018 Lancaster Metals added a second print line based on that same technology and incorporating all the advances of the preceding decade including the use of LED’s as a light source. Both lines employ multiple CCD cameras to locate numerous predefined targets to achieve the very best panel to panel alignment.
Processing parameters in photochemical machining are primarily dictated by the gauge of the material to be etched. The typical feature size tolerance is± 10% material thickness. Through holes and slots must normally be specified at 1 to 1.2 times material thickness. Outside and inside radii will typically run at one half material thickness. Center-to-center dimensions and other geometrically toleranced dimension such as true position or parallelism that are derived directly form the photo-tool may be specified at .0001″.