Non-toxic art processes are all the rage lately, and printmaking is no different. Intaglio (etching) in particular has seen many innovations to make is a safer process. Two commonly used processes, Electr0-etching and Solar-plate etching, are described below.
Electro-etching is a new spin on the 500 year old art of etching. Its main claim to fame is being a non-toxic eco-friendly form of metal etching. Unlike etching of the past where acid is used, electro-etching uses a direct low-voltage current to render an image on the plate. Electro-etching can be used on both zinc and copper-plates. Another benefit of electro-etching is the furrows created while etching tend to be a lot more even and controlled in comparison to the furrows created by submerging a plate into an acid bath.
Solar-plate etching is another new technique focused on the trend of non-toxic printing. The results are very similar to traditional intaglio but results are washed out with water instead of acid. The process involves a transparent film being over laid with a solar plate and then exposing it to the sun, transferring the drawn image to the plate. Unlike basic intaglio printing of the past a solar-plate etched image does not appear in reverse, but true to its drawn orientation.