FX-Sabers.com

Ahch-To: Instructional Section related to constructing your own Lightsaber => Miscellaneous => Topic started by: Goodman on March 18, 2013, 04:19:38 AM

Title: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Goodman on March 18, 2013, 04:19:38 AM
SAFETY DISCLAIMER:
First and foremost, this process involves HARMFUL, CORROSIVE CHEMICALS WHICH CAN KILL YOU if used improperly. Adequate safety protection to prevent skin contact is necessary, and I do not take any responsibility for any personal or property damage incurred by the processes detailed in this tutorial. Safety goggles, vinyl full coverage gloves, full coverage clothing, and a fully protected work surface with a plastic barrier is necessary. DO NOT ATTEMPT the process outlined in this tutorial with any less than these minimum safety materials.



INTRODUCTION:

Given the number of inquiries about the subject, I'd like to share a brief tutorial to achieve acid etched patterns on lightsabers. I have recently incorporated this technique into both the internal and external surfaces of some of my sabers, and have found it to be a unique way to enliven a saber design. I encourage safety-minded individuals and sabersmiths to try this technique for themselves. I'd enjoy seeing what others can produce! Of course, there are many other methods and chemical solutions which can be used to achieve an etched surface, but the process below is simply what I use as my personal preference for my particular detailed applications.

"Horus"
 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0109_zpsd4c14b51.jpg&hash=ba3a8ea210fc96769c78401f8901d3b0) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0109_zpsd4c14b51.jpg)


GLOSSARY:
"Acid Etching" : For this tutorial, I will use the term "Acid etching" to summarize the process where an acid is used to literally dissolve metal, in this case the aluminum on our lightsabers. The term can imply many different processes in the art-, jewelry- or metal-working worlds, but for our purposes this condensed summary is sufficient.

"Masking" : The process of covering a particular saber part with clear packing tape. The mask resists the acid so that the aluminum underneath it is unharmed by the acid. Masking is essential to protect all areas where you DO NOT want the acid to touch. A good example is the threads on MHS parts.

"Acid Resist" : Acid Resist encompasses a couple differing methods of masking, but essentially the goal is always the same, to block the acid from affecting masked areas. PNP Blue is a material onto which you can print a pattern and then transfer onto your part via an iron or oven. 500 Degree Resistant Sharpies can be used to draw a pattern directly onto a saber body surface, but I prefer "Masking" as my technique because it ensures a perfectly straight edged border every time without the need for touching up with paint, with other Acid Resist techniques often do. Still, these techniques do have advantages in certain applications (for example, repeatable or symmetrical patterns like on a run of Satele Shan sabers...).

"Hand Scribing" : After masking a part, "Hand Scribing" is the process of cutting out and then removing areas of packing tape where you DO want the acid to eat into the metal surface underneath it. This process produces, in reverse, the eventual acid etched design or pattern.



MATERIALS:
While there are several chemical mixtures which can be used for acid etching, my tutorial will focus on readily available ferric chloride.

1) Safety Goggles
2) Vinyl gloves (must be a material completely impervious to ferric chloride)
3) Full coverage clothing
4) A work surface fully protected by plastic or vinyl sheeting (trash bags, etc).
5) A large plastic tray (tupperware works great) which is large enough to cover at least half of the part in acid.
6) A large plastic bucket of cool tap water, large enough to completely immerse the part after being etched.
7) Sandpaper with grits from 320, 400, 600, 800, 1000 (go up to 2,000 grit and highly polish if you plan to seal the acid etched pattern using a translucent powder coat afterwards)
8 ) #0000 Extra Fine Steel Wool
9) Mineral Spirits or Acetone and a microfiber cloth to clean the part before etching
10) Super fine Sharpie pen
11) X-Acto knife
12) Ferric Chloride ("PCB Etchant", can be found in electronics stores like Radio Shack for ~$10.00)
http://www.radioshack.com/product/index.jsp?productId=2102868
13) A well ventilated work area with no heat sources nearby



PREPARATION:

1) First, identify the part you want etched. To ensure a uniform depth of etch, first prep the part by sanding it with successive grades from 320 to 1000 grit to remove any surface scratches. #0000 extra fine steel wool, rubbed in a single direction, works well here also. After the part is etched, you'll want to minimize any sanding or polishing operations, so do all of that now.

2) Clean the part with warm water and dish detergent to remove sandpaper grit and slurry. After drying with a microfiber cloth, wipe the part with acetone to completely remove all oils.

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2012-10-22114039_zpsf10a1f81.jpg&hash=cd1f959c7755817deb6f82aaf49b3739) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2012-10-22114039_zpsf10a1f81.jpg)

MASKING:


3) Immediately after cleaning/drying the part, apply a single layer of clear packing tape. Buy the widest tape you can find, or otherwise plan out the orientation so as to minimize the seam lines on your part (the more seams, the more risk of acid seeping into unwanted areas). Your goal is to make the entire part watertight and airtight.

4) The primary tip to consider when applying the tape is to start in one spot and smooth it down, then slowly work around the part while rotating it, smoothing out any air bubbles as you go along. Air bubbles are your enemy!


MARKING:


5) Using a fine tip Sharpie, draw your pattern onto the masking tape. If you change your mind, rub off the Sharpie and try again until you have a pattern you're happy with. I like this step because it allows you to see the pattern on your saber itself, before you etch it, which helps visualize the final product in your hands as you go.

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2012-10-18231845_zps1f059be4.jpg&hash=0bdf9965aa8c33d7da43456851ba5bd4) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2012-10-18231845_zps1f059be4.jpg)
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Goodman on March 18, 2013, 04:20:33 AM
HAND SCRIBING:

6) Here's where the fun begins. The primary advantage to hand scribing is that it allows you to very easily follow the contours of the pattern you drew in the MARKING step with your #10 X-Acto knife, whether organic (i.e. decorative) or straight edged (i.e. simulated circuitry).

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2012-10-22134205_zpscbf3ecb7.jpg&hash=076fc38d536bbd416653670ad2b45c71) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2012-10-22134205_zpscbf3ecb7.jpg)

7) The disadvantage is that it cramps your hands! Hold your sharp #10 X-Acto knife in your hands like a pencil, at a 30 degree angle to the part's surface. Don't hold it at too steep an angle, or you will chip the blade's tip. Too shallow an angle, and the blade's tip will not always be in direct, uniform contact with the saber part's body, especially when transiting the radial surfaces.

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2012-12-11010248_zps95d195cc.jpg&hash=ce4b7dd09bed3b862bece039c220a151) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2012-12-11010248_zps95d195cc.jpg)

8 ) To begin a cut, press firmly enough so that the knife blade cuts through the tape and gently sits against the metal beneath. Remember, you are only removing the tape, you do not need to be scribing deeply into the metal, too.

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2012-12-11164241_zps0dd69a9d.jpg&hash=49dcfd6197871be08070e5b7a4014c83) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2012-12-11164241_zps0dd69a9d.jpg)

9) With the tip set, begin to pull rearwards while at the same time keeping positive downward pressure on the blade. It is difficult to describe, so try it out and you'll learn quickly what you need to do to keep a clean edge.

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2012-10-22231033_zps8f0843fe.jpg&hash=d2ebc7d20cb5ff6413e446017e127bb2) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2012-10-22231033_zps8f0843fe.jpg)

10) After tracing out your entire pattern, use the tip of your X-Acto knife to gently peel away any area where you want the acid to etch the aluminum. You'll end up with a part that looks something like this below. Envision the taped areas remaining silver, and the exposed areas being etched dark gray when you're done.

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0458_zpscff5772c.jpg&hash=fbc9fdbf063499723ddb7057d2deac1c) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0458_zpscff5772c.jpg)

Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Goodman on March 18, 2013, 04:21:30 AM
ETCHING:

11) Don all your safety gear, prepare your work area, then prepare your acid solution. I prefer a 2:1 acid to water ratio. For me, this allows a consistent, controlled etching reaction in a reasonable amount of time. The critical rule to remember here is this: "Do as you oughta: Add the acid TO the water!". For a normal MHS body part, I typically first pour 2 cups of water into a plastic low/wide Tupperware, THEN I add 4 cups of Radio Shack's PCB Etchant Solution (it's 100% Ferric Chloride).

12) Take your masked part, and place it into the acid solution. For safety, I typically use only enough liquid to submerge about half of the part. This allows me to control the reaction. Start your timer for five minutes. It's important to never leave the part while it is in acid. You'll want to watch the process as the acid slowly eats away at the silver aluminum, turning it brown, then black, then it will begin to fleck away small pieces. Also, in case you didn't mask the part adequately and acid began to see into the part, for example onto the MHS threads or the interior of the part, you will be able to remove it from the acid and dunk it in your plastic bucket filled with water to stop the acidic reaction before more damage is done.

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2012-10-23012613_zps6f042e10.jpg&hash=65a6f1953e21cf5c079257270ca0e973) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2012-10-23012613_zps6f042e10.jpg)

13) As the acid etching deepens, you'll see bubbles form on the surface. This is HYDROGEN, so ensure there are no heat sources near your well ventilated work area.

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2013-03-12230631_zps8792a67a.jpg&hash=10091468ba45cc1c581c73745ae3045d) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2013-03-12230631_zps8792a67a.jpg)

14) The longer the part is exposed to the acid bath, the deeper the etch will be. 15-30 minutes is what I usually limit my etches to. Beyond 30 minutes with this 2:1 ratio solution, and the acid will begin to degrade the borders of my pattern. If the intention is to portray a slightly weathered or oxidized pattern, like on "Vivaldi", then 45 minutes is the usual limit. If the intention is sharp and shallow lines, like on "Horus" or "Thresh", then 20 minutes is the limit.

"Vivaldi" with a weathered, 45 minute etch:
 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2012-10-10150155_zps18606ab6.jpg&hash=069f659d845edc4062837f46fd22ac4d) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2012-10-10150155_zps18606ab6.jpg)

"Thresh" with a sharp, 20 minute etch:
 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0312_zpsd62841c4.jpg&hash=aa5ec987db9726e380d9b1ca84350f47) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0312_zpsd62841c4.jpg)


15) Rotating the part to evenly etch all areas of the desired part. When satisfied with the depth of the etch, remove the part and completely immerse it in your bucket of cool water. This stops the acidic reaction. Ammonia also does this quickly.

16) Clean the part with soap and water again, and you will notice that the etched areas are dark gray. If desired, simply seal or powder coat over this surface. Or, you can use your #0000 steel wool to remove some of that gray scale to return to the silver aluminum color underneath.

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0171_zps575480a2.jpg&hash=9652950da36a9cd80ffcab8cbb0a9c95) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0171_zps575480a2.jpg)

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0463_zpsef87531e.jpg&hash=20983a4382354b0cb70b4fcf555e1ea1) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0463_zpsef87531e.jpg)

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0170_zpsc46e19c2.jpg&hash=e5856abbefccf24adf0cb6672be39de6) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0170_zpsc46e19c2.jpg)


Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Goodman on March 18, 2013, 04:22:07 AM
17) Powder coat, or leave the part as it is.

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2012-12-13015953_zps565d1d90.jpg&hash=4001ad296a0771df44fa5358c2b0e61e) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2012-12-13015953_zps565d1d90.jpg)

18) Stand back and admire your handiwork. Smile confidently. You did it.  :)

"Horus":

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2012-12-13022943_zps403e75a3.jpg&hash=5956e8b1fb296a55aa3a35fb0f56cb13) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2012-12-13022943_zps403e75a3.jpg)

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0116_zps6efa417f.jpg&hash=ad0b8d981877356fc88befe516751684) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0116_zps6efa417f.jpg)

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0109_zpsd4c14b51.jpg&hash=ba3a8ea210fc96769c78401f8901d3b0) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0109_zpsd4c14b51.jpg)


"Rhabdos":

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0222_zps20f88e2f.jpg&hash=f7867f2dc96cf4357ef8267c552d80d8) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0222_zps20f88e2f.jpg)

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0240_zps2c3c11e1.jpg&hash=f0031d40400736018755f583d4bbe9db) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0240_zps2c3c11e1.jpg)

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2F2013-02-13015030_zps12a0d8b5.jpg&hash=e91c7afafa6e1d6c01e1861ddcc9f6aa) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/2013-02-13015030_zps12a0d8b5.jpg)

"Master Orgus Din":

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0501_zpsa39cb924.jpg&hash=b91bec64c2221fb648dda05099f8217b) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0501_zpsa39cb924.jpg)


"Thresh":

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0411_zps581cdb2b.jpg&hash=4db27f7716a0cd888346b15d2b44ba8b) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0411_zps581cdb2b.jpg)

 (https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1358.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fq774%2FArklightArsenal%2FTutorial%2520on%2520Acid%2520Etching%2FIMG_0413_zpsedd0f96c.jpg&hash=ce97b75d2a65c19ba6bb9974207bfbe3) (http://i1358.photobucket.com/albums/q774/ArklightArsenal/Tutorial%20on%20Acid%20Etching/IMG_0413_zpsedd0f96c.jpg)


ACID SOLUTION DISPOSAL:


The benefit of this acid solution setup is that it can be reused over and over again. For example, all the new sabers you see on my website as of this writing which feature acid etchings (eight of them so far) have all used the SAME acid bath. I have added a little more acid to the solution just once when I noticed the acid was loosing its "bite". If you used a Tupperware for your acid bath container, simply seal it with its cover and place in a cool, dry, safe place where NO ONE can touch it. Especially children. The next time you use it, it's there. DO NOT POUR IT DOWN A DRAIN WHICH USES METAL PIPES. There are other environmental considerate methods when the time comes to dispose of your full spent acid solution. I'll add that to this tutorial later after I verify my research.



Thanks for reading! Feedback? Questions? Post below ;)


Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Goodman on March 18, 2013, 04:49:58 AM
It's 5am so I'll proof read this later. Let me know what y'all think, and if it's worth writing more of these technique tutorials to share.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Nick Knight on March 18, 2013, 05:07:36 AM
Wow what a great tutorial. I Loved it. It was clear and well thought out. Explained every step and made each step easy to understand. Outstanding sir.

I have never acid etched before. I have only Anodized and salt water etched. You have added a new weekend project for me to experiment with.
again great tutorial...  ;D
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: dgdve on March 18, 2013, 05:28:38 AM
Hey old man,,, Thanks fer sharin'  8) (Epic technique & Tut!)
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: C-3P0 on March 18, 2013, 07:27:41 AM
THIS is one of the many reasons I love FX :) I love me a great, long read, and this looks phenomenal. I'll be reading this tomorrow, thanks so much for doing this mate.

It's great to have you back, beautiful work Goodman!
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: kamakazykid on March 18, 2013, 07:42:36 AM
This opens up a whole new level of ideas and design for me! will be using in the future.

I did have one question. Would I be able to use shelf contact paper instead of masking tape I personally find it easier to use for cutting and designing?
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Iggy on March 18, 2013, 08:05:28 AM
Just wondering what the benefits of this kind are versus salt water etching? It looks like the overall process is very similar.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Arryck Corso on March 18, 2013, 08:19:37 AM
This is an incredible tutorial Goodman.  Very informative and well thought out.  Definitely something I may try in the future.  Thank you for sharing this with us!
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Nick Knight on March 18, 2013, 08:52:05 AM
Just wondering what the benefits of this kind are versus salt water etching? It looks like the overall process is very similar.


With this you would not need DC power to make it work.  Just dip it in the bath.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Link on March 18, 2013, 09:42:07 AM
Im not sure HOW different it is but I can say that I may adopt this method over what ive been doing, Of course it could just be a practice thing.. I mean, looking at Goodmans work, its obvious that SMALL detail is his strong point and I do know from Salt Water etching that it is very tedious work when you want a good design to come to life. Its LOTS of work.

But that's the most fun part about it :)   Holding that finished product in your hand and saying.. I did it ! 

@ Goodman - Great tutorial !!!  I will definitely be trying this out down the road when I can get back into saber building :) 

Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Don on March 18, 2013, 09:58:03 AM
Many thanks for this very useful tutorial.
I'm using ferric chloride since a lifetime for PCB etching and I didn't know it worked on aluminium too.
Time to plan some tests  ;)
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: COUNT DOOKU on March 18, 2013, 10:01:57 AM
This is amazing. Thanks so much for sharing your wisdom.  8)
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Gil Gamesh on March 18, 2013, 10:55:51 AM
What keeps the acid bath from coating the inner wall of the piece and eating it away from the inside out?  Do you block/plug up the hole with something so no fluid gets inside the part?
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Goodman on March 18, 2013, 11:34:55 AM
What keeps the acid bath from coating the inner wall of the piece and eating it away from the inside out?  Do you block/plug up the hole with something so no fluid gets inside the part?


Yes, plugging the ends of the tube is essential. If the part being etched is a 1" or 1.25" tube (for most of my inner G-Core chassis parts), I use the rubber cap that came with my pre-made blades to block the acid from leaking inside the inner wall. For MHS tubes, I need to find a rubber cap which is tight enough around the ~1.45" diameter. Until then, I use the clear packing tape with this method for a water tight seal:

1) Place a single piece of wide clear packing tape face down on the MHS's tube opening and press down firmly against a table top to set the tape.
 
2) Trim the excess all the way around leaving 1" of overhang.

3) Cut the overhang into strips every 30 degrees.

4) Fold those strips down against the outer wall of the part.

5) Wrap the outer wall with clear tape to double the seal of those strips.

6) Squeeze all air bubbles out with the rounded end of your hobby knife.

The benefit of the clear packing tape method to plug holes, though somewhat tedious, is that you can still see inside the tube. During etching, I'll check every few minutes to see if any acid has leaked in.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Goodman on March 18, 2013, 11:48:21 AM
I did have one question. Would I be able to use shelf contact paper instead of masking tape I personally find it easier to use for cutting and designing?

Using my tutorial's method, essentially you are creating a "one time use" stencil or sticker directly on the hilt by cutting out areas of the mask which you don't want. For the mask, you can use any material as long as it is adhesive enough to bond to the metal surface completely to resist the acid 100%, and obviously can also resist the acid itself.  I haven't used shelf contact paper, but try it and post back your results!

One development I've tried out which isn't pictured here is using tinted tape for the mask. The tape is mostly translucent, but has a slight shade of red, for example. This allows me to see the resulting mask much more clearly during the scribing process, because of the higher contrast between the red masked areas and the aluminum exposed areas. Obviously it provides a much higher contrast that clear tape vs aluminum! I get my tinted tape locally. If I can find an online source for a a cheap price, I'll post it here.

The clear tinted tape is also produced, among other formats, in a 12" wide film for certain applications like covering a large clear part, like a car headlamp. This is a useful size for us because we could conceivably mask an entire hilt with one mask ( = no seamlines). A 12" wide, 32 foot long roll is $40 shipped from China, but there are lots of stateside providers, too, in art stores or car accessory/upgrade stores. As mentioned I'm still researching a source for the cheapest, most easily available online source which fits our needs the best.

http://www.aliexpress.com/store/product/Free-shipping-Wholesale-Wram-Pink-Headlight-Tail-Light-Film-Protive-Sticker-Tint-Wrap-Lamp-Vinyl-Film/106960_624696040.html



Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: blackluc on May 02, 2013, 11:43:05 AM
Could I dip some pieces for a really short time to achieve a light weathering effects?
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Falon Grey on May 19, 2013, 10:18:32 AM
I ve got a question on this:
I can get only 40% ferric chlorid here, would this also do some etching progress in longer time ?
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Goodman on May 22, 2013, 03:13:43 PM
Could I dip some pieces for a really short time to achieve a light weathering effects?

Yes, a shorter exposure time would reduce the depth of the etch. For corroded corners, apply the acid to specific areas with an eye dropper. The surface tension of the liquid will allow it to collect in small puddles on the surface of the saber. Alternatively, allow the acid to collect in the recessed areas of the saber, to create a deeply weathered effect. Depending on your acid/water ratio and exposure time, a rusted effect can also be achieved.

Experimentation is key.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Goodman on May 22, 2013, 03:15:35 PM
I ve got a question on this:
I can get only 40% ferric chlorid here, would this also do some etching progress in longer time ?

What comprises the other 60%? Typically I mix an approximate 50/50 acid/water solution.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Darkjedi on May 24, 2013, 06:11:02 AM
Great tut! I can't wait to get started. I work with a lot of acid (batteries) I have all the gear(PPE).

Oh you Sabers are truly great too!
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Falon Grey on May 24, 2013, 10:26:48 AM

What comprises the other 60%? Typically I mix an approximate 50/50 acid/water solution.

I was refering to this:
http://www.conrad.de/ce/de/product/530736/Bungard-Eisen-III-Chlorid-Loesung-fluessig-73131-01
But u answered my question ! if u mix 100 % ferric chloride with water half an half, the product i am heading for will do the job :)
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Silver Serpent on June 13, 2013, 08:48:50 AM
Your tutorial works fantastic!  I had narrow lines and very little exposed area, so I only needed a 15 minute etching session, but it turned out wonderful!

(https://www.fx-sabers.com/forum/proxy.php?request=http%3A%2F%2Fi1038.photobucket.com%2Falbums%2Fa464%2FEremith%2FSabers%2Fth_asp10_zpsa8d40086.jpg&hash=644c6ae92a4a56ab22b1a289bc7a2b7e) (http://s1038.photobucket.com/user/Eremith/media/Sabers/asp10_zpsa8d40086.jpg.html)

Thanks for sharing your technique with us. 
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Nemesis on June 13, 2013, 10:38:26 AM
Excellent tutorial Goodman. Done salt etching in the past, this seems a lot faster though. To RadioShack!
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: tron on August 02, 2013, 05:31:33 PM
wicked, attention to detail is your thing........... 
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: jester1 on October 27, 2013, 10:37:33 AM
Process worked great.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Darth Smorgis on October 31, 2013, 01:14:40 PM
I am thinking about trying this out soon but I have a question.
Since you only use enough liquid to cover half of the piece at a time, do you continuously slowly rotating it as it etches?  Or do let it sit for 5 minutes at a time and then turn it and let it sit for another 5 minutes and so on?
I feel like if you don't continuously rotate it that one side may etch unevenly or more than another side.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: jester1 on October 31, 2013, 10:10:23 PM
You rotate until you have the desired look.  If you do the 2 to one mixture as described the etching is slow enough that you can adjust how long you leave a side exposed. One trick I discovered was to cut the fingers off of a rubber glove and use them on the ends of the tubes to keep it from going inside. Also you can pull the tube out of the acid after a minute or so and make sure that all your cut outs are actually cut out.  I found a section that I had not peeled out and took care of it and then went back to the acid. Good luck, take your time and you'll be fine.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: dgdve on November 01, 2013, 10:57:39 AM
Ideally you would want enough solution to entirely suspend the piece to be etched. You do NOT want the piece to rest on the sides or bottom of the bucket (or whatever.. I use old Tupperware as goodman suggested). You DO want the piece suspended and entirely covered by the solution.

I would check the etch every 5min on the dot as that also serves to disturb the build up of bubbles on the edges of the resist. (fresh acid fresh eat)

I've seen some "trick" set ups that use Air pumps (like from a small fish tank) to agitate the solution and help to provide more consistent etching results. I've also seen that a lot of guys use a Baking soda mixture in the water side to actually provide some neutralization to the acid itself (but its not some mandatory thing so don't worry about it).

Also the Acid bath itself changes color as it loses effectiveness (turning closer to an olive green from its normal oily black). Yet as Goodman says you can just add some fresh and roll on. None of this is absolutely necessary.. The tut is more then sufficient and those are some very minor things I've observed.

Just like everything your results and mileage may vary but trial and error (and ole Goodman's tut) are golden!
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Darth Smorgis on January 02, 2014, 02:04:51 PM
Okay, one more question...

Say I have a design chosen and printed out.  How do I transfer that image onto the packing tape?
Is the only option to free hand the design onto the tape? or can I transfer it somehow?

Thanks.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: STARKILLER on January 02, 2014, 02:23:22 PM
There is a heat transfer PNP printer paper (really for laser printers etc) that you print it out on and stick it on the part then bake it. When you peel it off, the toner from the printed image stays on the part (part must be totally clean, like with lacquer thinner etc), then you fill in any gaps that didn't take with a paint pen or nail polish and then dip in the acid.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: SithStalker on January 02, 2014, 02:34:05 PM
Great tutorial man ! Your "Rhabdos" saber looks epic :o
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Darth Smorgis on January 03, 2014, 01:43:46 PM
There is a heat transfer PNP printer paper (really for laser printers etc) that you print it out on and stick it on the part then bake it. When you peel it off, the toner from the printed image stays on the part (part must be totally clean, like with lacquer thinner etc), then you fill in any gaps that didn't take with a paint pen or nail polish and then dip in the acid.

So instead of using the transfer paper to apply the pattern directly on the part, can I use something like this..... Clear Sticker Project Paper (http://www.avery.com/avery/en_us/Products/Crafts-%26-Scrapbooking/Sticker-Project-Paper/Clear-Sticker-Project-Paper_04383.htm)
My hope is that i can print my design onto the clear sticker sheet and cut out the design where i want the acid to etch the metal.  So will the clear sticker sheet function as the clear packing tape as a "resist"?
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Vercify on January 03, 2014, 02:49:46 PM
There is a heat transfer PNP printer paper (really for laser printers etc) that you print it out on and stick it on the part then bake it. When you peel it off, the toner from the printed image stays on the part (part must be totally clean, like with lacquer thinner etc), then you fill in any gaps that didn't take with a paint pen or nail polish and then dip in the acid.

So instead of using the transfer paper to apply the pattern directly on the part, can I use something like this..... Clear Sticker Project Paper (http://www.avery.com/avery/en_us/Products/Crafts-%26-Scrapbooking/Sticker-Project-Paper/Clear-Sticker-Project-Paper_04383.htm)
My hope is that i can print my design onto the clear sticker sheet and cut out the design where i want the acid to etch the metal.  So will the clear sticker sheet function as the clear packing tape as a "resist"?

I was going to ask this same question. Cutting out and applying a sticker was my first thought on achieving a good pattern without hand-drawing it.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: jester1 on March 08, 2015, 12:10:01 PM
Has anyone tried the above process? 
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Sini Star on March 08, 2015, 07:03:45 PM
Yes it works just take your time.  Practice on a scrap piece of aluminum if you have it laying around.  You can get different textures based on the amount of acid/water ratio you use and of course the amount of time allowed to soak. 

Get a good pair of rubber gloves that are easy to take on and off.  Home depot and Lowes both have those types of gloves.

Good luck! 
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Bin Adam on July 14, 2015, 08:05:06 PM
Absolutely stunning!
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: JediWizard on July 15, 2015, 05:54:14 AM
realy gotta give this etching a go
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: CET on August 11, 2015, 12:37:22 PM
Does it make any sense to "paint" the acid onto the piece? It seems like that would take far less acid and I would have much greater control over where it goes.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: Silver Serpent on August 24, 2015, 06:42:41 AM
I have seen a few tutorials online that use a sponge to apply the acid to specific locations.  They didn't specify if they were using a natural or synthetic sponge though, so I'd be cautious when starting out.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: CET on August 24, 2015, 03:41:44 PM
Can acid etching eat through powder coating? I want to get some parts powder coated to appear to be brass (far lighter than actaul brass), but I also want to do some etching. I definitely don't want to etch first and then send an item back for powder coating, because now I'm paying for shipping three times instead of just once.
Title: Re: TUTORIAL: Acid Etching
Post by: BipeFlyer on February 11, 2019, 08:00:52 PM
Whoops, replied to wrong thread.