The Right Way to Etch Brass

It is feasible to get sharp professional outcomes even on the initial attempt in case a design is etched chemically into brass. The skills required for etching brass are quite simple; consequently, etching metal will be the ideal way to get the job done in case you intend to create an appealing design which is going to last for generations.
The main element will be a piece of metallic substance on which you would like to place a pattern. The other element is a brass etching chemical. Ferric Chloride is one of the most popular brass etching chemicals out there given that it is powerful enough to accomplish the task within a sensible time frame. The last part of the procedure will be to make a design and you likewise need to stop portions of the metal which are not going to be etched in the long run.
Creating a design:
This can be achieved in several ways. The easiest technique would be to draw the design onto a piece of brass directly using a pen which has the ability to resist the etching solution. Amazingly the task can be done quite easily with the help of a Sharpie black marker. Nonetheless, the majority of us do not belong to the category of Picasso, which means you might want to create the design on a computer before printing it out. Employing a vector illustration software program like Inkscape will be a sensible idea since you need a 2 color monochrome image, although any paint program can accomplish the task.
Make sure to reverse the design to ensure that lettering shows up on the screen in reverse. Thus, when the image is transferred it will end up the proper way round. Also, bear in mind that lines which are below 2 pixels in width might be too thin to get etched correctly. That being said, you will usually get a spectacular design that features plenty of fine lines. Make experiments and figure out what is going to work for you. In case it appears great while printed full size on paper it ought to appear great while appearing as a brass etching too.
How to transfer a design onto metal?
For this, it will be sensible for you to purchase special paper as well as special etching inks although a laser jet printer can give good results. The laserjet ink happens to be plastic and it will not be absorbed by the inkjet paper. Therefore, it will be transferred to the metal from the paper easily. A household iron can be heated for transferring the ink from the paper.
After laying down several protective newspaper sheets on the ironing board, place the metal plate on the top. The laserjet image must be laid onto the metal with its face down. A few more newspaper sheets have to be added for protecting the surface of the iron and then you need to start pressing. After approximately one minute, the iron has to be removed and the object has to be left alone for cooling. Allow it to become cold adequately prior to taking away the newspaper.
Even though the laserjet paper is peeled away, a paper residue will be left on the brass. The metal along with the paper has to be soaked in water for approximately 60 minutes so as to make the paper soft. Then you need to rub the paper using your finger very gently. This might take some time when it comes to making a simple design; however, a complicated design might require you to invest approximately one hour.
At this point, you will have your resist on that metal. Nevertheless, you might come across several spots where you have rubbed quite hard, and therefore, inspect everything using a magnifying glass so as to make sure that everything is flawless as desired.
The packing tape can be used to make a resist very quickly which will cover the whole back as well as the sides of the metal plate.
Ferric chloride etching
Following this, you have to begin the etching process. For this, a compact-sized disposable plastic tray is going to be appropriate which will function as a bath where the etching is going to take place.
More tape has to be used for suspending the metal sheet face down in the bath such that it does not touch the bottom.
At this point, you need to pour in adequate ferric chloride for covering the metal sheet. Agitate gently so as to get rid of the bubbles. In case you etch face down, the material which is etched will fall away to the bath’s bottom such that it will not have any uneven outcome.
It has to be left like that for approximately 50 minutes while the brass is slowly etched away. Following this, rinse properly and scrub away the ink given that its job is complete by now. Remember to polish the brass once it becomes clean.
Disposing of ferric chloride safely
After it is used, you need to put the ferric chloride solution down the drain given that the copper suspension is still left in it. As mentioned before, you might reuse the liquid several times, and therefore do not forget to pour it into a non-metallic container.