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CAUTION: Safety is very important when etching. Be sure to wear the appropriate protective clothing and observe all WARNINGS on chemical manufacturers . Etchant Composition Distilled water Nitric acid Hydrochloric acid Hydrofluoric acid Distilled water Nitric acid Hydrofluoric acid Ethanol Nitric acid Distilled water Copper chloride (CuCl2) Hydrochloric acid Ethanol (85%) or Methanol (95%) Acetic acid Nitric acid Distilled Water Hydrochloric acid Copper sulfate Distilled Water K3Fe(CN)8 NaOH or KOH Ethanol Picric acid Glycerol Nitric acid Hydrochloric acid Conc. 190 ml 5 ml 3 ml 2 ml 92 ml 6 ml 2 ml 100 ml 1-10 ml 40 ml 2 grams 40 ml 40-80 ml 50 ml 50 ml 50 ml 50 ml 10 grams 100 ml 10 grams 10 grams 100 ml 2-4 grams 45 ml 15 ml 30 ml Conditions 10-30 second immersion. Use only fresh etchant Comments

Kellers Etch

Kroll's Reagent

15 seconds


Seconds to minutes Immerse or swab for few seconds to a few minutes Swab Immersion or swab etching for a few seconds Immerse or swab for seconds to minutes Seconds to minutes Use fresh Do not let etchant crystallize or dry explosive

Kallings Reagent

Lepito's Reagent

Marble's Reagent

Murakami Reagent


Vilella's Reagent

Seconds to minutes

Guide to Acid Concentrations

Acid/ Base Nitric (HNO3) Hydrofluoric (HF)

Specific gravity 1.4

Acid concentration 68-70% 40%


9/10/13 Hydrofluoric (HF) Hydrochloric (HCl) Ammonium Hydroxide (NH4OH) Metserve International 40% 37-38% 35% Electrolytic etching is another fairly common etching technique.5 A/dm 2 5-15 seconds Stainless steel cathode 6 volts DC Room temperature General structure Carbide and cementite etching Comments General structure Attacks carbides and sigma phase Copper and brass Concentrated NH4OH Austenitic stainless steels Copper and copper alloys (Cu) 100 ml Distilled water 10 gram CrO3 5-14% H3PO4 Remainder water 25 ml Distilled water 390 ml Methanol (95%) Ethylene glycol 35 ml perchloric acid (70%) 10 ml Distilled water 2 grams potassium hydroxide Titanium (pure) Titanium carbide (TiC) Wrought Fe-Ni-Cr Heat resisting alloys (Fe) 100 ml Distilled water 5 gram CrO3 Nimonic alloys (Ni) Nimonic PK31 General structure 2/3 Stainless Steels www. Electrolytic etching is often used for harder to etch specimens that do not respond well to basic chemical etching techniques. The most common electrolytic etching equipment uses a two electrode design (anode and cathode) using acids or bases for the electrolyte. Common Electrochemical Etchants Application Wrought stainless steel Etchant Conditions Stainless steel cathode 6 volts DC Room temperature 30-60 seconds 3-6 volts DC 5-60 seconds 1-4 volts DC 10 seconds Stainless steel cathode 30-50 volts DC 5-10 °C (40-50 °F) 10-40 seconds Pt cathode 2 volts DC 30-60 mA/cm 2 2-30 seconds Stainless steel cathode 5-10 volts DC 15-20 seconds Room temperature Pt or stainless steel cathode Steels 10 grams Chromic acid 100 ml Distilled water 45 parts Hydrochloric acid 15 parts Nitric acid 40 parts glycerol 100 ml Distilled water 10 grams oxalic acid 3-6 volts DC 5-60 seconds Stainless steel cathode 2-4 volts DC. however the electrochemcial potential is controlled electrically by varying the voltage and current externally as opposed to chemically. It is similar to chemical etching in that acids and bases are used for modifying the pH. 0. Electrolytic techniques require that the specimen be conductive and is therefore limited primarily to Procedures for this type of electrolytic etching are fairly common .htm .co.

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