Steel etching experiments

SHHM Logo in steel
There are plenty of guides online for etching steel using salt, vinegar and a low current. This one caught my eye, so I gave it a try with several different designs at a SHHM meetup.

Cutting shapes from electrical tape worked well, but I was after more detailed images, so I tried some different techniques to add the resist.

For raster images, printing images onto acetate sheets then transferring the image to steel using heat worked fairly well. The printer ink is a great resist, but getting a good transfer from the acetate to the steel takes a mix of finesse and luck that I couldn’t get reliably. Need to experiment with printing onto different transfer media, but a few worked out nicely:

Escher swirl steel
Escher swirl steel 2

For vector images, including our logo file, we pulled out the trusty vinyl cutter and had it cut out a mask. Transferring the vinyl could be a bit tricky for fine details — especially the lettering in our logo at the top of the post! — but larger pieces came out quite well:

Escher spiral steel vector

Birds tessellation steel

Overall, this experiment seems to be a success! Needs some experimentation with the transfer media for raster images (we have some ideas), but for vector images the vinyl cutter works beautifully.

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