Chem Etch/Electrolytic/Electro Etch Marking has been used within a wide range of industries for many years now and for many is still the direct part marking method of choice particularly where surface disturbance of the material must be kept to a minimum, Please find some example sectors below together with a brief description of their own particular requirements.
In the Aerospace sector electrolytic marking is still widely preferred over marking lasers, needle embossers or scribers mainly because of its gentle method, in fact many manufacturer drawings specify electrolytic marking as their preferred or sole option. Electrolytic marking does not displace or cut material and does not heat excessively whilst the process occurs. This marking does not change the material structure.
For example, turbine blades, parts of the braking system, drive technology, fuel and hydraulic systems are all regularly marked electrolytically. The regulatory traceability requirements have tightened the specifications for permanent labelling of critical parts (for example using a 2D data matrix code).
In addition, tools and interior fittings are also often marked electrolytically.
In the automotive industry, great value is placed on identification marking and labels. Wherever possible, every part, from brake assemblies, engine & exhaust systems to supply lines, should be directly & permanently marked. Within the automotive sector the requirements for permanent labelling (for example using a 2D data matrix code) has tightened with regard to traceability in particular.
Almost all metallic parts can be marked electrolytically, for example the engine, transmission or body and also components of the exhaust and lighting systems.
The electrolytic marking process became established a few decades ago and developed within the knife and cutlery industry. Even today, the majority of kitchen knives, scissors, cutlery and other kitchen utensils are marked electrolytically.
Cost-effectiveness is not the only factor that outweighs other processes; the hygiene aspect also plays an important role. The electro-chemical mark is created in such a way that no bacteria or germs can get trapped within it.
Food Industry/Commercial Kitchens
Stainless steel is very widely used throughout the food industry. In order to create a perfectly clean and hygienic environment, ink marking or stickers are avoided wherever possible. Ink marking, stickers and coloured labels can come obviously off and contaminate food. The electrochemical marking process offers no surface for bacteria and germs to embed into and are highly resistant to being removed by aggressive cleaning agents or high-pressure cleaners.
Forming Technology/Deformation Analysis
With the electrolytic marking method, forming analysis/measuring grids can be applied precisely to the components requiring detection of critical deformation areas. The marking does not affect the material properties and therefore does not impact on the forming process required following the marking application.
DIMATRON measuring grids are fixed in a stable aluminium frame. The manufacturing tolerance is 0.01 mm.
Medical/Surgical Instrument Marking
Surgical instruments must be marked for track and trace; of course with a hygienic, high quality mark. The electrolytic marking process fulfils this requirement and can still be read perfectly even after many sterilisation processes via autoclaving.
The direct electrolytic marking of data matrix codes on scissors, scalpels etc. enables seamless traceability and peace of mind.
Pharmaceutical/Food Processing Sector
Within the pharmaceutical sector it is critical that many stainless steel components are directly marked for identification purposes. This can simply be a part number but may also consist of hazard or information labelling to inform operators particularly in clean room environments where labelling is simply not suitable. Many companies also like to apply their company branding/logo to their vessels, electrolytic marking is really the only way to offer a very high contrast mark on high grade stainless steel that is visible from a good distance.
Saw Blades & Tools
Saw blades in particular are subjected to high mechanical loads in their use, which requires robust direct marking. The electrolytic marking process is the first choice for full-surface logos and large lettering. Filled elements are marked in a fraction of the time it would take a laser to process. In addition, the electrolytic marking of saw blades is particularly popular because it does not adversely affect the material and is still easy to read even after heavy use. Various types of tools are marked electrolytically. From chisels, drills, pliers, shims to saw blades etc. Typical marks applied are logos, sizing details, order numbers, part numbers etc. In addition individual markings that indicate departments where tools belong are very popular.
DIMATRON have special electrolytes in their range for corrosion-prone steels, contact us for details.