File Format & Software Selection
At PPD Ltd. we use 3 main programmes to edit and process artwork, Corel, Adobe Illustrator and AutoCAD.
If you have access to one of these programmes please send us your artwork in the native software format, .cdr for Corel, dwg for AutoCAD, ai for Adobe Illustrator, if you are using an alternative package please send in one of the following formats: -
dxf / dgn / eps / pdf (*)
* The pdf must be of a vector format.
Filetype & The Etching Process
The quality of the finished etched part is directly linked to the quality of the original artwork, a poor quality scan or raster type image will ultimately result in a poor quality etched part. We recommend that artwork is created as a vector file and all raster type files are avoided.
(*) The .PDF must be generated from a vector format file.
All drawings should be sent to us at actual size, with a measure bar for reference, this will prevent any errors that may occur when importing into our editing packages.
If your order contains multiple copies of parts, please send us one off each part with a note of the minimum quantity required for each, our CAD technicians will array the parts within an efficient sheet layout appropriate for the metal type and thickness requested.
Optimum Sheet Size - Etching Process
For etched parts measuring less than 290mm, we offer 4 standard sheet sizes (see below), please note that these are the image dimensions and do not include the outer frame, should you wish to add a frame please use a frame dimension of ~6mm.
1- 290mm x 135mm
2- 290mm x 290mm
3- 290mm x 440mm
4- 290mm x 590mm
5- 290mm x 890mm *
*This layout size should only be used if the parts exceed 590mm in length as it does incur an additional handling charge and will also result in higher shipping costs.
For small volume runs we recommend creating a smaller sheet and running multiple copies, the setup charge for the phototool will be less and the difference in unit cost will be minimal, keep in mind that repeat orders of 290mm x 135mm layout is limited to a maximum of 5 copies, repeat volumes greater than this will require a new setup to at least 290mm x 290mm.
There are a number of points to consider when creating a layout for an etched sheet, all of which will have an impact on cost, a few are listed below:
- The larger the sheet the higher the initial setup cost for the phototool.
- The larger the sheet the less flexibility we have when processing, very intricate parts drawn beyond our recommendations is likely to achieve best results on a smaller sheet.
- For future repeats it is more cost effective to use a sheet at 290mm x 290mm or 290mm x 440mm as this will result in a lower unit cost. (the one off setup cost will be higher)
Top Tip: Always utilise the vertical 290mm dimension as this will be charged, for example; you may need only 4 sets on the 890mm railings as shown on sheet 4-, but as you will be charged for the 290mm it's worth popping the extra copy on as the resulting cost will be the same!
Remember that we can process sheets wider than 290mm, click here to view a complete list of the metal types/thicknesses and the maximum sheet sizes we offer.
For laser cut parts, artwork should be supplied as an outline as per the example below:-
For laser cutting, the remaining metal and/or holes through the metal can 50% of metal thickness selected, for example a 1mm hole can be cut on metal up to a thickness of 2 mm, the smallest hole/metal is not related to the type of metal only the thickness of the metal.
(Note: Please contact us if you have a design that requires a hole that is less that 50% of the metal thickness, for some designs this is possible, however dimensional stability is not guaranteed below 50%)
For parts that are to be etched, the artwork should be supplied as Image 3, Image 1 and 2 show the etched part from this artwork, with image 1 showing the front and image 2 showing the back of the part.
Image 1 Image 2 Image 3
You'll see that image 3 shows the different aspects of the etch represented in different colours, the colours themselves are not critical but please ensure that the different parts are allocated different layers on the drawing, the usual terminology would be:
Full Thickness (On image 3 this is black)
Full etch (Hole) (On image 3 this is the 'void' areas in white)
Halfetch /surface etch on the front (On image 3 this is red)
Halfetch/surface etch on the back (On image 3 this is blue)
Take a look at our PDF below 'Artwork Example (Etching)' for further advice on the preparation of artwork for etching.
For parts manufactured using the etching process, there is a direct link between the finest detail in the drawing and the maximum thickness of metal that may be used. Take a look at the PDF's below for further explanation.