When talking about innovation and development of “micro-systems,” you’ll find the automobile industry leading the race, followed by the medical device sector. In the short to medium term, this industry is likely to grow in the micromanufacturing space.
An important process facilitating the automobile industry in this journey is photochemical etching (PCE), also known as chemical etching. It is the manufacturing process of creating ultra-precise metal parts and components in high volume. These parts or components help improve the efficiency of the automobile. Let’s learn more about the same in detail!
What Is Chemical Etching?
Photochemical etching or Chemical Etching is a metal fabrication process generally used for thin metal parts with simple and complex designs. It is typically a multi-step process where photosensitive material is used to transfer high-resolution parts onto thin, flat metal sheets. After that, a chemical etchant helps remove any unwanted section from the dimension.
It is a sophisticated and versatile metal machining technology that allows automobile manufacturers or companies to produce large quantities. Despite that, this process is not well-known in the market as there are only about 100 PCE companies in the US.
Why Does The Industry Rely On This Manufacturing Process?
One of the prime motives of the automobile sector is to provide vehicles that are efficient, run economically and produce less pollution. Due to this, the manufacturers put consistent efforts into designing sophisticated engines. This requires them to create precise and accurate components which also weigh less.
This metal fabrication process helps remove the unwanted section, especially in the tiny components, thus, addressing the need of this industry to a great extent.
For instance, manufacturers can create micro-sensors that are lighter than traditional sensors. These sensors then can be used to monitor the vehicle’s performance. Similarly, lightweight and micro components are essential for eco-friendly hybrid and electric vehicles. As the demand for these vehicles is expected to be high in the future, so will the automobile industry’s dependency on PCE.
What Benefits Does The Industry Avail?
Apart from the need for PCE in the industry, there are several factors that manufacturers can avail using this process.
PCE can help industry manufacturers produce products with quality precision similar to the lasering automotive parts. However, it is a lot more budget-friendly, especially for large production runs.
- Creating Dependable Prototypes
This process provides the manufacturer’s specialized tools to create a prototype of the required product or component easily. It is because the metal sheets are quite thin; thus, creating a prototype becomes relatively easy. This further makes it easy for manufacturers to deliver sustainable yet efficient vehicles.
- Minimal Wastage Of Material
Tiny components required in a vehicle are generally made of thin and fragile materials. Standard machining processes can easily harm this material, resulting in immense wastage. Needless to say, working with thin materials is tricky in auto engineering miniaturization. Fortunately, PCE is a stress-free process that does not affect the material’s properties (like milling processes involving heat do). It helps in reducing wastage of material and saving costs.
To Sum It All Up
In order to provide quality and efficient products to the customers, automobile manufacturers need precisely created, high-quality components. PCE is already used in a wide array of parts and is expected to expand gradually.