Etching, in the present sense, may be defined as the chemical removal of material from an object in accordance with a given pattern. This definition excludes such operations as pickling, chemical polishing and chemical frosting: although they involve the dissolving of material from a surface, it is not done according to a specific pattern. The definition also excludes methods of analysing the structure of metals and ceramic materials, in which chemical attack (also called etching) is used to reveal, amongst other things, the crystal boundaries.
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