Can Metal Plated 3D Prints Survive 400,000 Volts?

It appears they can. [Ian Charnas] wanted his very own Thor Hammer. He wasn’t happy to settle on the usual cosplay methods of spray painting over foam and similar flimsy materials. He presents a method for nickel plating onto a 3D printed model, using conductive nickel paint to prepare the plastic surface for plating. In order to reduce the use of hazardous chemistry, he simplifies things to use materials more likely to be found in the kitchen.

As the video after the break shows, [Ian] went through quite a lot of experimentation in order to get to a process that would be acceptable to him. As he says, “after all, if something is worth doing, it’s worth over-doing” which is definitely a good ethos to follow. Its fairly hard to plate metals and get a good finish, and 3D printed objects are by their nature, not terribly smooth. But, the effort was well rewarded, and the results look pretty good to us.

But what about the 400 kV I hear you ask? Well, it wouldn’t be Thor’s hammer, without an ungodly amount of lightning flying around, and since [Ian] is part of a tesla coil orchestra group, which well, it just kinda fell into place. After donning protective chainmail to cover his skin, he walks straight into the firing line of a large pair of musical tesla coils and survives for another day. Kind of makes his earlier escapade with jet-powered roller skates look mundane by comparison.


12 thoughts on “Can Metal Plated 3D Prints Survive 400,000 Volts?

    1. Ah, grasshopper, you haven’t heard of the Australian “celebrity” chef Pete Evans, and his Tesla coil “Biocharger” device he was trying to sell as a cure for Coronavirus….

    1. Have you seen surface acoustic wave (SAW) filters? Essentially a FIR filter made out of physical parts. This comes to my mind from your suggestion.

      I picture the skin effect version to be much larger

    1. Yes you can survive static shocks, which are generally only a few kilovolts and just a single very quick discharge not a continuous or pulsed arc at 400 kilovolts, hence why they need the chainmail suits, without them it would cause damage to their bodies. It is very easy for 400 kV to go across your heart and stop it and the arc length is very large. This also isn’t touching a small Tesla coil kit or anything where all you would feel would be a little tingle, no this would most likely burn your skin, similar to a lightning strike.

      This experiment wasn’t about the human body itself though it was about whether or not the metal plating would survive. Whilst metal objects can handle high voltage relatively well due to the low currents, metal plating will be a very thin layer from a few micrometers up and could probably be damaged or vaporised by the heat of the arc and sustain damage over use.

      1. Musical tesla coils are a thing. Musical EDM not so much. The pitch you wouldn’t hear anyway, because you don’t really hear EDM, it all happens under an oil bath.

        I ran ram/ diesinking EDM for a couple years, the only thing you hear when running is the sound of dozens of packs of bacon frying. You don’t hear any pulse sound in terms like a tesla coil.

        I like your musical choice, but your username choice is vulgar.

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