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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
Hi all, thanks for building such a great online community resource. I expect my screen printing needs are a little outside the norm here, but the technology and process crossover will be extensive once I get the basics figured out. I am an aerospace engineer by day but three years ago converted a niche hobby restoring machine tools for myself and a few close friends into a side business. Now I specialize in making high fidelity reproduction etched metal nameplates for people who restore all kinds of machinery. Tools, cars, boats, airplanes, forklifts, tractors, even pizza ovens come my way now from all around the world through the power of social media. Anything that came with a metal nameplate in brass, aluminum, stainless, etc. are all fair game.

Up until now, I have been using primarily high temp laser toner transfer to mask plates for etching. While this process produces outstanding small details, the masking process is finicky, prone to premature failure in the etching tank, and suffers from thermal distortion issues due to the temp at which the mask must be applied to the metal substrates. I have decided 2022 is the year I move to more robust UV-cured dry film mask processes completed more or less at room temperature.

Screenprinting tools will come into play for me both for masking metal prior to chemical etching and also for adding color elements. I am currently evaluating the pros and cons of building my own single-point source UV exposure unit that can provide masks and screens capable of producing really fine details like 4pt text and fine line graphics. I'm torn between the enjoyment of designing and building my own system and the security of paying for other manufacturers' lessons already learned. I'd be very interested in talking to folks who have built their own, especially ones with single point UV LED sources. I'm less interested in high heat sources like metal halide that require mechanical shutters, and multi-point sources like large LED arrays or tubes really don't help me do the fine details required by my work.

I'm looking forward to getting to know the community, and happy to share any metal etching knowledge that might be of interest to any whose interests and/or business needs align in that direction.

Best regards,

Tom Utley, Owner
Von Industrial, LLC
Instagram project gallery: www.instagram.com/kingtutley
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