Picture of Make pictures with Acid Etching
Not quite as time consuming as writing in stone, but equally indelible: etch your own art in precious brass! The concept is pretty neat: circuit board etching acid eats away at copper and copper alloys. This means that it will eat away at brass, but it's mojo (technical term) is interrupted by the presence of iron. By adhering iron to a plate of brass by way of the iron oxide found in printer ink, we can etch any 2D pattern into our plate.
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Step 1: Preparing the Plate

Picture of Preparing the Plate
Start by meticulously cleaning your brass plate. Any size plate will do, and the acid bit to the tune of .003"/10min so you needn't worry about the thickness much. I cleaned mine with a Scotch Brite pad, and then wiped it off with acetone until my rag stopped pulling off dirt.

Step 2: Print, place, and iron your images.

Picture of Print, place, and iron your images.
This whole process requires high contrast printouts from a laser jet printer. I've been experimenting with different methods, and have found that transparencies get a really good resolution, but I believe that printing out on parchment paper would work even more smoothly. Anyway, the process is that after you print your image (greyscale just doesn't cut it, if you want a tonal range, use a halftone,) you lay the sheet print side down on your brass and iron it. I put my iron on its highest setting, with no water in it, and press on the image in patches. I press down fairly hard for about thirty seconds, and move up the image in this fashion until the whole image has been covered.
SIRJAMES093 years ago
to agitate the bath, maybe try to build or buy a vibrator table to put the entire container on,...

here is the name & address of a place where you can buy various metals for etching.
they carry Brass, Copper & Stainless Steel that I personally know of. not sure what else they carry there.


I have bought pieces of copper & pieces of brass from them in the past & have always been very pleased with the quality of the metals.
kelios5 years ago
Hi, I've tried transferring my image to a copper plate using this method several times without success. I'm using transparencies, but I just can't get the image to adhere to the plate except in bits and pieces. Do you have any suggestions?
kelios5 years ago
Hi, I'm trying to follow your instructions but having some trouble. I'm using transparencies like you suggested, but my images are not transferring well at all, even though I've spent close to an hour going over them with my iron. I also notice that in your picture, it looks like you are using some sort of paper, not a transparency. Can you give me a brand name or some othr info on how to get the image on the copper?
nsavage20096 years ago
how did the pictures or faces, turn into the hallway or room, the final piece, and will the edges turn that dark rustic brown after it has sat in acid or do you need to do something afterwords to give it that look?
cdg7 years ago
I think your pictures should be facing down because the acid works with the help of gravity.
krazy7 years ago
i cant make the other pictures bigger... every time i click them it sends me back to the top. other then that this is a pretty cool instructable
Daax krazy7 years ago
After you're sent to the top, scroll down to the step the picture was at.
noahw7 years ago
here is yahooyahoo
whamodyne7 years ago
If I'm understanding this correctly, you are etching everything that isn't the pictures because you didn't do a negative image of what you want? So the whole board is reduced, except for little ridges that stand up that are the lineart? Doesn't that take a lot of etching solution?
bofthem (author)  whamodyne7 years ago
You've pretty much got it. From my one batch of etchant (about one pint) I've etched two plates of this size and a couple other smaller ones.