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Photochemical Machining

Photochemical machining (PCM), also known as chemical etching and photochemical milling, is a process that produces complex, burr-free, thin sheet metal components using selective masking and acid to precisely remove material. For more than 50 years, our team has been producing PCM components at an unprecedented pace, scale, and complexity. Widely recognized as a leader in precision thin-metal etching, our PCM techniques use a strategic combination of exclusively designed equipment and patented processing techniques. We produce high-volume stainless steel components with leading-edge tolerances and features with multiple thicknesses.

Photochemical Machining Features

  • High-resolution complex components
  • Through-etch for discrete components
  • Partial-etch for blade sharpening
  • Tight tolerance (± 10 microns)

Through-Etch Feature Tolerances

  • Through-etch feature minimum size is equal to the material thickness plus 0.025 mm
  • Standard through feature tolerance is ± 15% of metal thickness
  • Critical through feature tolerance is ± 10% of metal thickness (±0.010 mm min)
  • Standard center-to-center tolerance is ± 0.010 mm

Partial-Etch Feature Tolerances

  • Partial-etch thickness reduction capability is available for single or multiple areas and depths
  • Standard partial-etch features are 65% reduction in material thickness (0.025 mm min)
  • Standard partial-etch depth tolerance is ± 10% of metal thickness removed (± 0.004 mm min)

Substrate Size/Thickness

  • Thickness range: 0.015 mm – 0.500 mm
  • Standard sheet size: 12″x27″ (305 mm x 686 mm)
  • Capable of etching sheets up to 20 “x27” (508 mm x 686 mm)


  • High-volume manufacturing
  • On-site automation and tooling team to iterate and scale quickly
  • Glass photo tools for precision high-volume capability
  • Experts at advanced etching techniques such as surface texturing and partial depth etching

Medical Device & Technology Markets We Serve

Innovators developing groundbreaking medical devices rely on our photochemical machining capabilities to create new technologies that advance treatment options and improve patient lives. Market applications for components and implants produced with our photochemical machining process include:

  • Neurovascular
  • Ophthalmic
  • Diabetes
  • Electrophysiology
  • Minimally invasive surgery
  • Neuromodulation
  • Surgical Robotics
  • Sports medicine

Prototype to Production

To support a new project, we have dedicated resources with our Lightspeed Lab to help you during the development cycle with quick prototypes and design feedback related to manufacturability. When the design is finalized, we have a standardized system to validate the manufacturing process and the production resources to help you scale quickly to high volumes.

Unlocking the Potential of Photochemical Machining


Photochemical Machining:
How It Works & Key Advantages in Medical Device Manufacturing

Discover the power of photochemical machining (PCM) and its revolutionary impact on the medical device industry. This whitepaper provides a comprehensive overview of PCM, including its intricate processes, remarkable benefits, and vital considerations for engineers.

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