Talk:Industrial etching

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Copied for possible use here[edit]

This is the simplest etching technology. All it requires is a container with a liquid solution that will dissolve the material in question. Unfortunately, there are complications since usually a mask is desired to selectively etch the material. One must find a mask that will not dissolve or at least etches much slower than the material to be patterned. Secondly, some single crystal materials, such as silicon, exhibit anisotropic etching in certain chemicals. Anisotropic etching in contrast to isotropic etching means different etch rates in different directions in the material. The classic example of this is the <111> crystal plane sidewalls that appear when etching a hole in a <100> silicon wafer in a chemical such as potassium hydroxide (KOH). The result is a pyramid shaped hole instead of a hole with rounded sidewalls with an isotropic etchant. The principle of anisotropic and isotropic wet etching is illustrated in the figure below.

--Light current 21:12, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

New disambiguation page - Proposal to revert to previous situation[edit]

  • User:Smack has taken it upon it himself (20 December 06) to put etching to a new disambiguation page. This was done without any consultation & I think this is a mistake, and the previous situation should be reverted to, for the following reasons:
  • there was only one page called etching.
  • it implies that what he calls etching (art) is not chemical etching, which is not the case.
  • the only other item on the new page, Line art, is a mish-mash of a page & does not mention etching once in the main text, and has very little to do with etching. He describes it as "an improper use" himself.
  • there was a perfectly adequate disam notice at the top of the etching article already, pointing to chemical etching:
This page discusses etching in connection with printing and art. For other industrial uses of etching see Chemical etching.
For the history of etching, see old master prints.
In the United States, the term etching is sometimes used improperly to refer to line drawings done in pen and ink and other media.
  • this will leave hundreds of "etching" and "etcher" references pointing here, which will take forever to sort out, & cause continuing confusion, hassle, and inefficient linkage.
  • there was no proposal to do this.

Please say if you Support or Oppose at the Talk:Etching page, Thanks! Johnbod 21:58, 20 December 2006 (UTC)


  1. This page claims to discuss many different applications of etching, but it really only considers etching in semiconductor fabrication.
  2. It makes an ostensibly fundamental distinction between isotropic and anisotropic etching. I think that this distinction is overrated. The only fundamental distinction is the type of etchant; anisotropy and all of the other properties are just useful figures of merit.
  3. It's so incomplete that I'm tempted to just blank most of it and start from scratch.

--Smack (talk) 00:45, 22 December 2006 (UTC)

  • my interest & knowledge is only the art side, but just looking at the article here I had realized your points 1 & 3. I also don't like that it implies art etching is somehow not chemical. There seem to be a number of more detailed articles, so it might be better to junk the whole text as it stands & have a disam page for "etching(industrial)" or similar Johnbod 00:52, 22 December 2006 (UTC)
I propose to move this article to Industrial etching or Etching (industry). --Smack (talk) 18:56, 5 January 2007 (UTC)
I've brought this article up to tolerable standards as far as microfabrication is concerned, by removing some glaring errors and linking to the new Etching (microfabrication) article. However, it's still incomplete, the introduction is marginal, and I can't vouch for the bits that refer to history and copper. --Smack (talk) 19:32, 5 January 2007 (UTC)
Industrial etching would be better, although it still seems to me to almost entirely duplicate the microfabrication artivcle - if there is a difference it needs to be made much clearer Johnbod 02:00, 6 January 2007 (UTC)
I'm sure that there are industrial applications of etching that differ greatly from the uses in microfabrication, but the only one that I can think of off the top of my head is the manufacture of printed circuit boards. The article will be a stub until someone expands it. --Smack (talk) 18:18, 7 January 2007 (UTC)

New title[edit]

Is "industrial etching" the proper commonly used industry name? According to my sources the proper name is "chemical milling". Otherwise I would rename it "etching (manufacturing)" to reflect the common modifier. Wizard191 (talk) 03:28, 22 November 2008 (UTC)

Wet etching[edit]

See discussion at Talk:Wet etching#Redundancy. Wizard191 (talk) 02:32, 23 November 2008 (UTC)

Merge with Chemical milling[edit]

The two articles describe precisely the same process, although they both contain different material about it. They absolutely need to be merged. As I'm quite partial to my own version, I'd like them to be merged from here to there, but I also understand that my opinion on the matter is a tad biased and so I'll await further discussion before actually taking action. Kierkkadon talk/contribs 21:38, 10 February 2013 (UTC)

  • oppose Yes, wait about 40 hours, great! The two terms are not the same, with chemical milling narrower, and the lead there is now inaccurate. This should be reversed, or the article changed to allow for the wider concept. Johnbod (talk) 17:49, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm still not certain how the previous Industrial etching article has a wider scope. They are both the use of chemicals to machine parts. As to the images in the article, one shows an example of a historic use and the other shows a microscopic picture of the surface of a chemically milled part. The other picture on the Industrial etching article was an example of etching in microfabrication, which is a subset of chemical milling covered at length in Etching (microfabrication), and linked to in the See also section of the Chemical milling article. The only extra information the Industrial etching article had was a bunch of unsourced lists of "common" etchants and materials, the most useful of which I merged directly into the current Chemical milling article under Common etchants. As to expanding the article, I'm currently reading another source which I plan to use to add a Uses or Applications section.
You've said twice, without explanation, that Industrial etching had a wider scope. Rather than being sarcastic, would you mind just directly stating your complaints? What, exactly, did Industrial etching cover that would not or does not fit into Chemical milling? Kierkkadon talk/contribs 18:00, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm not being sarcastic - 3 weeks is a typical time to leave a merge proposal; many stay for months. Chemical milling is apparently "the machining process of using pools of hot etching chemicals to remove material to create a part with the desired shape" - there are a whole raft of industrial forms of etching which that does not describe, including most older ones, and newer ones such as semiconductors. It doesn't describe the way the armour illustrated was produced for a start. In fact the article has precious little detail illustrating what chemical milling as describe might typically produce. Johnbod (talk) 03:30, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
In my experience, any negative criticism bracketed by "Yes, ... , great!" has been sarcastic. Ironically saying a false agreement to what you believe is a bad decision sounds sarcastic to me, but if I misinterpreted then I apologize.
What processes does the lede I wrote not describe? I took that definition directly from my source (with the appropriate rewriting to avoid plagiarism and close paraphrasing). If they are chemical etching processes used in industry then they belong in this article; it would improve the article in that case to add them in and rewrite the lede to accommodate them. However, I'm not aware of any industrial chemical etching processes that don't involve pools of chemicals; if you're referring to the metallography techniques mentioned in Industrial etching, I perform those at my job and they are precisely what I have described in the lede: using baths of temperature-regulated (should probably be substituted for hot, will add after this) chemicals to machine a part. The only other applications mentioned in that article were in semiconductor industry (which is covered in its own article, and therefore deserves no more than a quick summary here) and the aerospace industry, which definitely uses baths of hot chemicals to machine parts. Armor etching from before the Industrial revolution certainly worked that way, according to my source. You say the lede doesn't cover all industrial etching processes, so what do you believe the lede should say?
You're right that the article as it stands lacks information about applications of chemical milling. Add them. I would not even oppose copying them directly from the previous industrial etching article, although I will not hesitate to add an {{unrefsect}} tag if they aren't sourced. When I get time to visit my library I will do what I can with the sources therein. Kierkkadon talk/contribs 04:34, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
Per your suggestions I've added some content from the lede and Etching in the semiconductor industry section of the original Industrial etching article [1]; as of now they are just copypasta, but when I get a chance either tonight or this weekend I'll use a source to expand it and refine the prose. Kierkkadon talk/contribs 18:59, 12 February 2013 (UTC)
I not very happy with this sentence for example: "It is distinct from artistic etching in scale and purpose; rather than used as a surface finishing or decoration process, chemical milling is used to remove material and create parts, often on an industrial scale." How is it different in "scale" - sometimes the objects are presumably larger, though no indication of size ranges is given, but in semiconductors they are considerably smaller, and presumably they are often just the same size range? Or is some other sense of "scale" meant in the first use of the word? "often on an industrial scale" could do with clarifying too - you presumably mean multiplication and automation of individual set-ups. The purpose is just as decorative in etched armour etc as in prints. In semi-conductors etc the purpose is to etch very lightly a design on a (usually) flat surface. That the nature of the design is practical rather than artistic is something of a detail in terms of describing the process. Neither are well described by the present lead. Plenty of industrial etching still produces signs and other things to look at rather than "parts" - see this company. The current text doesn't allow for this.
I think "baths" might be better than "pools" throughout, or is there a distinction? Of course baths are also used in artistic etching. Your sources are titled "Chemical milling" and "Chemical machining" (is it); is it clear they are intending to cover all aspects of industrial etching? I doubt it. Johnbod (talk) 15:03, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
If you don't like the sentence, then change it. As for differences of scale, I doubt it's possible to write a flowing, summary-style prose description of any industrial process that distinguishes it in every possible particular from a similar artistic process; it's understood in the usage of the term industrial that the differences are likely to be some combination of physical size, number of parts produced, and practical rather than artistic intent. It should also be understood, especially by further reading this article as it stands, that which particular difference comes into play varies from application to application. I cannot think of a more clear description of the differences between artistic etching and industrial etching that wouldn't become too technical and dense for a summary-style encyclopedia article. If you can, then please add it.
In regards to decorative armor, armor etching is not a modern chemical milling process, but modern chemical milling was developed from it, which is why it is in the History section. Using vinegar to make pigment from lead is also not really a chemical milling process, but it serves as an example of the origins or historical roots of the process as it stands today.
With semiconductors, again, they have their own article and are not really covered here, but I believe they still fall under chemical milling because chemicals are used to etch (remove material from) the surfaces of objects to create a new, more functional object.
Responding to your point about signs and parts to look at, the process is still used to produce a useful part to be sold. Just because once sold it is used as decoration or visual information doesn't mean that it isn't a practical process before an artistic process. I would have trouble believing that mass-produced or commercially-produced etched signs are artistic. Artistic etching (my knowledge of artistic etching is not sourced, except concerning how chemical milling can be regarded as distinct) is using chemicals to effectively "paint" or "draw" on metal. It's creating visual art with metal in a manner where other artistic skills such as painting and drawing can be used. That is not the same as a commercial printer and sign-maker such as JM Ranger etching a plate to be sold to a customer. Judging by the webpage you linked, they fall precisely within the description I have written: they are an industrial company that uses chemical milling to produce their products.
As far as baths rather than pools, that sounds like a fine change. Go ahead and make it.
And finally, as to my sources, if you doubt their validity read them yourself. Harris 1976 is an engineering textbook about chemical milling as an industrial process I found at my university library[2]; it gets very technical with tolerances, times, and other industry-related concerns. The other you mention, the Chemical Machining article from AMSE, you can read it yourself. It is a report on chemical milling (they use the term machining, which is frequently used as a synonym for milling although this is not technically accurate), as an industrial process. Quote from the abstract: "This paper is aiming to give details of chemical machining process, industrial applications, applied chemical etchants and machined materials."
I've removed the mention of surface finishing from the description, in the lede, of what chemical milling is not; surface finishing is an industrial process to which chemical milling is suited. An example is the metallography application. Kierkkadon talk/contribs 15:45, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
It's hard for me to edit over stuff referenced to your sources, but I may have a go. Frankly my interest in and knowledge of this topic is extremely limited. I don't think signs etc can be usefully described as "parts" - parts of what? They are individual objects sold for a use. You do completely misunderstand etching in printmaking, the purpose of which is to produce a printing plate (or "matrix") for subsequently printing the design on paper, in up to thousands of impressions (usually many fewer today, for essentially marketing reasons). The etched metal plate itself is not "decorated" or intended as an artistic object, although of interest to art historians where they survive - maybe it is a "part", and the scale of use could often be described as industrial, especially in book & journal illustration at some periods, when it was a commercially viable method of creating printed images in general publishing. Other artistic etching, as in armour & jewellery, will produce actual objects intended to be looked at. I get the impression that etching may well be used in a range of industrial applications that neither of us is aware of, that are outside "chemical milling", hence my objection to the merge. All the sources currently used appear not to define their subject as "industrial etching"; I'm sure they are fine for what they do say they cover, but is that all there is? The merge should not have been made without clarifying that, not that the other article was any real help as it stood. The article does not specify any particular period, and now it also covers "industrial etching" as a whole needs to cover applications that were once more general than they may be today. Johnbod (talk) 16:42, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
I'm fully aware of how etching is used in printmaking, and again I believe it falls under the description I gave in the lede and which I acquired from a published source. Baths of etching chemicals are used to remove material in formless metal, creating a part with more utility than the formless metal. It isn't mentioned in the article because, as I said, I have not had time to add every single application of this process from a source; I recall specifically from reading it that Harris 1976 mentioned printmaking as an application of chemical milling. Every source I've read, and at least one editor who is acknowledged to be an expert in the field of metalworking (Wizard191, his question about the nomenclature is above) suggests that the common name of this process (using chemicals to remove material and create parts) in the field of industry is chemical milling. Industrial etching is an alternate name, taking the name of the broad, non-industrial process and specifying an industrial use. Harris 1976 certainly also describes the process as industrial etching.
I see you've taken care of the "parts" nomenclature. I think most of the changes you've made improve the article, although I'm not sure why you've completely removed the distinction between artistic applications of etching and industrial applications of etching. I think perhaps "parts and products" could provide more specific information than "objects", in this context, without sacrificing accuracy.
I still am not sure what industrial applications of etching could exist outside of chemical milling. Chemical milling, according to my sources and an expert, is etching in industrial applications. Because the removal of material (most often metal, but also other materials) is generally known as machining or milling in industry, chemical milling is the common term.
You keep saying that industrial etching is more broad, and involves more applications and processes, than chemical milling as described. What are they? More than once I have asked you to provide examples of something that Industrial etching would cover as an encyclopedia article that Chemical milling would not, and you have either failed to provide those examples or I have explained that they are covered by chemical milling, even if I have not actually taken the time to add a mention of that specific example into the article.
In fact, and I completely overlooked this at first, the previous version of Industrial etching specifically mentioned that chemical milling was a synonym. That alone should show that the two articles needed to be merged. Since the common name, according to my sources, is Chemical milling, I put it under that name. Since the previous version of the Industrial etching article contained no sourced information, I included very little information from it. Kierkkadon talk/contribs 17:14, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
I removed the distinction completely because it just didn't work, as my comments above explain. I note that the signmaker does not say they engage in "chemical milling", any more than this lot do - their applications are not really covered by the existing definition. You proposed and prematurely carried out the merge - the onus is on you to demonstrate its validity. Johnbod (talk) 17:34, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
How are their applications not covered? Do they not use chemicals to machine away material from formless objects to create useful objects? The company you linked to, though they use the term etching, does not actually describe what process they use - they simply say that they mark materials. If that involves chemicals, and removes material, then it's chemical milling. What about their applications is outside the definition of chemical milling? Kierkkadon talk/contribs 17:45, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
No, apparently not - they use what they call "etching" - I suspect Photochemical machining (something else you don't cover) - to mark pre-formed objects manufactured by different processes. Given they say no consumables are required I wonder if chemicals are used, in which case "etching" might not in fact be the right word. It's not clear, but I think any chemicals used may not be in baths in which the whole object is placed. Presumably material is removed. Johnbod (talk) 18:22, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
If a chemical is used to remove material, and it is used as a commercial industry, then it is chemical milling as described and defined. If the marking is areas of removed material, then it fits. If it isn't areas of removed material, then how is it even etching? If the problem is specifically with the word baths, then that word can be changed. But small, isolated problems with the way I have worded things do not constitute a successful argument against the merge. Furthermore, Photochemical machining is mentioned in the current Chemical milling article, both in the History section and Process section. It is also linked in the See also section. But because it has its own article, it should not be given any more than a short summary here.Kierkkadon talk/contribs 18:51, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
You say the onus is on me to demostrate the validity of the merge — I have, by positing with the support of a published source (now more than one published source) that industrial etching and chemical milling are synonyms describing precisely the same concept, with chemical milling being the more common name in the field of the concept. You have disagreed, saying that they are different processes, with chemical milling being a more specific subprocess of industrial etching. You did not substantiate this or back up your claim until asked (twice), when you provided a short list of applications. I used this to support my own original point, saying that those applications do fall under the term chemical milling as described; most of the applications you mentioned as being outside the realm of chemical milling are mentioned in Harris 1976, and the only one not mentioned (semiconductors) has its own article, and so whether or not it counts as chemical milling (it does) it does not have to be included here. The only sources you have provided to back up your claims have been commercial websites, sites created and hosted by specific companies to promote themselves, saying that because they do not use the term chemical milling they do not fall under it as a subject. In addition to commercial websites not being admissable sources, certainly not over published academic textbooks, this is an absence-of-evidence/evidence-of-absence argument and therefore flawed. You also said that their processes do not fit the description provided in the lede, using baths of chemicals to remove material and create a useful product. And I'm still completely mystified as to how that could be the case. If they don't use chemicals to remove material to create a product, how would they have fit into the Industrial etching article? Kierkkadon talk/contribs 18:02, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
Not a sub-process but a subset (excuse me, but your use of language lacks precision, which is part of the problem here). I have shown, with minimal effort, that your definition, derived from your sources, was too narrow, over successive stages. That indeed suggests that their assertion that the two terms are synonymous is also imprecise. Any source from 1976 is likely be becoming outdated in this area I would have thought - how many new processes have been developed since then? Johnbod (talk) 18:22, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
You have not shown anything of the sort. You've simply said that they are different without explanation. In what way is industrial etching more broad than chemical milling? In what way do the scant applications you've mentioned fall outside the definition given? Each application you've mentioned I have refuted, and you have formulated no response to my refutations (Edited note: in revising this comment after and edit conflict, I overlooked your above response to my questions about Pro-Pen). You still have yet to explain how the sign producer you mentioned does not fall into the definition given, "using baths of temperature-regulated etching chemicals to remove material to create an object with the desired shape."
For the purposes of resolving this dispute, it doesn't matter how old my source is because you have provided none.
Honestly, I think this has reached a standstill. I suggest that one of us either officially request a third opinion, or take this to the dispute resolution noticeboard. Kierkkadon talk/contribs 18:43, 13 February 2013 (UTC)
In case you hadn't noticed, we have been working, reasonably productively, to broaden the definition you and your sources initially provided so that it can be considered to encompass all industrial etching, or most of it anyway, even if on the talk page you are rather defensive. This process has some way to go. But I personally still think that a shortish article called Industrial etching covering a full range of industrial etching processes is likely to be more helpful. It's a bit soon to go for dispute resolution imo. You are rather impatient. Johnbod (talk) 22:42, 13 February 2013 (UTC)


Third opinion: (1) I agree that "industrial etching" and "chemical milling" should be covered within the same article until any such time in the future when the article gets long enough to justify spinning off per WP:Summary style. If/when that day arrives, then spinoff is fine. (2) I agree that "industrial etching" is the better name for the article, with "chemical milling" being a heading and section within the article. The reason why is not easy to explain briefly, but an attempt follows. (3) When dealing with pagenaming for Wikipedia articles, one runs up against emic-vs-etic differences in the taxonomy of things and their names, the taxonomies of which (things and their names) often are not structured identically, first because it is not practical for natural language to be structured thus (for example, a discussion on the Talk:Diesel engine page had to try to deal with this), and also because evolving technologies change the structure of "what things exist and how they are related to each other" over decades. Retronymy is the main way that natural language adapts to the latter. Basically, in a nutshell, without being even close to being an expert on the many kinds of etching processes, I am sure that Johnbod is correct that the term "industrial etching", or simply "etching" when the industrial context is implicit, has been around since before anyone called a subset of such processes "chemical milling", and that to refer to the etching done by medieval armourers as chemical milling would be a neologous way to talk about it. Not that there's anything wrong with retronymy per se, but only certain kinds of retronymy are linguistically natural. When we name Wikipedia pages we have to be fairly linguistically descriptive, because we can't assert a neologous nomenclatural revision onto the populace. That said, it's quite interesting that eventually, historically speaking, the populace may itself adopt, in its natural language, a nomenclatural and taxonomic revision that realigns natural language with the shifted realities of the etic "taxonomy of things". Thus today we can have two Wikipedia articles named "acoustic guitar" and "electric guitar", but it wouldn't have been appropriate for an encyclopedist of 1930 to structure the taxonomy that way; it only would have made sense to have one article, titled "guitar", with a section on electric guitars within it. This example is not identical to the case at hand, but it shows the theme of how taxonomies change over decades. Oh well, anyway, I lack time to expound better and readers lack time to read it, so that's enough, hope this helps explain the forces at work ... This article can frankly inform the reader that there is logical overlap, that the physics of the processes overlaps, but it should also explain that different terms have been used historically, and thus are still used certain ways and not others today. — ¾-10 23:23, 1 August 2013 (UTC)

Since Kierkkadon has done 6 edits since March, & none since June, & no-one else seems interested, I think making those changes is justified. I think you would do a better job than I. Johnbod (talk) 02:49, 2 August 2013 (UTC)