Etching is a marking method that is often chosen by those who want highly durable, recessed prints in metal plates that are virtually impossible to damage or deface. This method uses a mordant, or an acid, to eat into the metal’s surface to create recessed designs in high detail. While acid is the original chemical used for this particular marking process, modern etching methods use other chemicals, some of which produce less toxic fumes when introduced to the metal being marked.
Traditional etching uses what is called an acid-resist, oftentimes a waxy substance that can withstand the mordant being used, to protect parts of the metal that are to remain uncut by the chemical being used. The longer the metal plate remains submerged in the acid or chemical being used, the more pronounced the recessed parts of the design. Once the desired level for the etched design is reached, the plate is then removed from the acid and neutralized. The acid resist is then removed from the metal nameplate, and the option for inking is introduced.
You can use a number of metal plates for this marking method, with some of the more popular ones being stainless steel, zinc, and copper. This is one of the more durable marking methods around since the design is eaten into the metal that is used. This is ideal for metal nameplates that are exposed to harsh environments and conditions.