Choose your metal preparation.
The preparation of the metal is important to the final look of the piece, even if you are plating the piece after the etching has been completed; a highly polished material will give an even, finished surface, while a mill finish will impart material lines. Typically, we will etch sheets which are:
Raw, or, mill finished which shows some metal processing lines.
Pre-polished 1 or 2 sides prior to etching for a high gloss finish
Post polished, which will slightly round the edges of the piercings in the design, and yield a high gloss finish. Additional compensation must be made in the artwork to accommodate the mechanical polishing process, however. Typically used for jewelry findings.
Choose your finish color.
With the exception of stainless steel, brass, nickel silver, and sterling/fine silver can be finished with these metals:
Bright, or shiny, gold, which is tarnish resistant.
Bright, or shiny, Imitation Rhodium, which is a silver-like finish, which is tarnish resistant.
Frost Gold, which is a combination of bright gold, which is on any area that is full metal thickness, and matte gold in any surface etched areas. This finish is also tarnish resistant.
Frost Imitation Rhodium, which gives you the same contrast as in the frost gold, except in the silver-like finish. This finish is also tarnish resistant.
Bright silver, which will eventually tarnish. Silver cannot be silk screened, or ink jet printed.
Bright Copper, which will eventually tarnish.
Black oxide with lacquer. A black oxide is deposited into the surface etched areas with a protective coating of clear lacquer. Can only be used with un-plated sheets.