Laser Direct Imaging, also commonly known as LDI, plays a key role in the metal etching process. Traditional etching involves coating the metal plate with a polymer photo resist. After that, the digital design is exposed to the photo resist using ultraviolet light and photo tooling where the dark lines create a pattern on the surface of the photo resist. The sheets are then ran through a developing process that removes the polymer resist where the dark images were. The exposed metal is now vulnerable to the acid’s etching action. With laser direct imaging, the process is faster and more accurate. LDI uses a precise, computer-controlled laser beam to imprint the patterns in photo resist on the metal plates replacing the use of artwork and exposure to ultraviolet light.
The process of Laser Direct Imaging takes place in the following steps:
- A digital image is created to the customer’s exact specifications, replacing traditional artwork.
- Metal is also selected and sheared to size.
- Metal is cleaned and then coated with the photosensitive resist.
- The coated sheets are placed in the LDI and the digital data or image that is to be etched is exposed to the resist on both sides.
This whole process leaves behind the traditional use of costly artwork. LDI gives us a significantly reduced margin of error, and the result is as accurate as the design uploaded to the laser.
Benefits of LDI
Using Laser Direct Imaging instead of photo-tool helps manufacturers reduce:
• Light refraction problems
• Alignment issues
• Environmental impact
Other benefits include:
• Precise imaging
• Better resolution
• Improved optical alignment
• Quick and hassle-free image changes
Advantages of LDI
• Superior image resolution
• Precise two-sided registration
• The use of Laser ensures clean cut edges
• Able to image large sheets with precision
• It can produce a higher volume of end products by working on multiple sheets concurrently
• Any changes or corrections take only a few minutes and one doesn’t need to send it back
LDI with The LIMATA X3000
VACCO Etch has recently acquired a new machine that provides us with an edge in the competitive market. The LIMATA X3000 series is a Laser Direct Imaging equipment specialized in producing patterns on large sheets. The machine has a multiple wavelength setup, a user-friendly interface, and has great optical depth.
VACCO Precision Etched Parts is one of the paramount photo etching institutions throughout the western United States. With the addition of LDI, we can offer larger etched sheet sizes, with higher resolution imaging, and more affordable than large panel artwork.
Metals Etched by VACCO-etch
• Stainless steel
• Nickel alloy
• Carbon & spring steel and
We have in-house diffusion bonding, forming, welding, adhesive bonding, micro laser processes and a highly skilled hand assembly, inspection, and packaging line which allow us to enhance and customize your photo etching project.