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topic 8100

Etching Aluminium and Steel


Q. I will be attempting to deep etch an Aluminium and a Steel vessel to produce a deep relief image on the side of it. What I would like to do is draw an image and immerse or paint a solution on the item and this would etch everywhere I have not drawn.

Does anybody have any information on this process and the chemicals used, and where they might be obtained from?

Phil Webb
- Tas, Australia


A. Aluminum can be etched with either acid or alkaline material. An alkaline etch will give a "frosted" look, which is what I guess you're looking for. A potassium or sodium hydroxide-based solution should do the trick. You'll most likely want an inhibited etch (which means it contains something like silicates to control the rate of etch). Otherwise, you run a good chance of getting smut which will then have to be removed with an acid etch.

Christian Restifo
- Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

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