This clever Instructable demonstrates how to etch beautiful aluminum control panels for electronics projects. We like how similar this process is to DIY circuit board etching. Both abide by the same technique and use blue transfer paper. The primary difference is in the use of muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide for etching aluminum.
11 thoughts on “Etch Aluminum Control Panels”
You can use the same solution to etch copper PCB’s, and I believe it works better, as it is more reusable than ferric chloride. This solution is also known as Cupric Chloride.
@albino, it wouldn’t cupric chloride if you started the solution off with aluminum.
Sodium or Potassium Hydroxide also works well for etching aluminium.
Muriatic acid works quite well to etch aluminum, even dissolve it entirely.
Only thing to remember is to do it outdoors, even if you have a decent hood it might not be enough. It smells like rotten eggs/sewer gas REAL bad – as a kid we used to take driveway cleaner (it had muriatic in it) and mix in aluminum scrap for a neighborhood sized stinkbomb!
if this is a simple aluminium plate, let’s say 3mm in thickness, i don’t understand how you know when the acid has “eaten” enough of un-protected aluminium? how do you control the depth of etching?
You can also use electrolysis to etch aluminum plate. This method doesn’t use any nasty chemicals at all.
I already use ‘muriatic acid and hydrogen peroxide’ to etch my PCBs. ;o (In fact, made some rather nice ones yesterday.)
It was my understanding though that dissolving aluminum in Cupric Chloride put out all sorts of chlorine gas. ;o (Though I might have been thinking about Ferric Chloride etchants.)
If it’s safe, I’d love to try it. I have plenty of aluminum plates and stuff sitting around.
The change in the surface of the material is usually pretty obvious. And you can always pull it out for a second to check the depth.
old as hell
Sodium hydroxide works also very well with aluminum. You just need to make sure you don’t use a too concentrated solution as the reaction is very exothermic and can run away. The same applies for the hydrochloric acid/oxygen peroxide mix.
Its nice working at a Pool store, I can get as much Muriatic acid as I want very cheap. :)
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