Abstract Chemical etching is the controlled dissolution of workpiece material by contact with strong chemical solution. The process can be applied to any material. Copper is one of the extensively used engineering material in the fabrication of microelectronic components, microengineered structures and precision parts by using chemical etching process. In this study, copper is chemically etched with two different etchants (ferric chloride and cupric chloride) at 50 °C. The effects of selected etchants and machining conditions on the depth of etch and surface roughness were investigated. The experimental study provided that ferric chloride produced the fastest chemical etch rate, but cupric chloride produced the smoothest surface quality.