Anodizing Titanium In Multiple Colors

[Titans of CNC Machining] wanted to anodize some titanium parts. They weren’t looking for a way to make the part harder or less prone to corrosion. They just wanted some color. As you can see in the video below, the resulting setup is much simpler than you might think.

The first attempt, however, didn’t work out very well. The distilled water and baking soda was fine, as was the power supply made of many 9V batteries. But a copper wire contaminated the results. The lesson was that you need electrodes of the same material as your workpiece.

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Easter’s Over, But You Can Still Dye Keycaps

While it’s true that keycap colorways abound these days, one can’t always find exactly what one is looking for. And once found, the set is often either prohibitively expensive, or it doesn’t come in the desired layout, or both. So, why not color your own keycaps?

That’s exactly what [amphiboi] did, while standing on the shoulders of [CrowningKnight]’s imgur post on the subject. Essentially, you use Rit dye and PBT keycaps for best results. Rit has a comprehensive guide to mixing their dyes to achieve pretty much whatever colors you want. Once that’s all squared away, it’s time to gather your cooking supplies.

Starting with a pot you don’t care about and four cups of boiling water. Add about a teaspoon of dish soap, which helps the dye settle evenly across the keycaps. Then you just add the dye(s) and stir with an expendable spoon, then add your keycaps. 5-10 minutes later, depending on your desired outcome, the ‘caps are ready to be rinsed, dried, and pushed on to your switches.

Satisfied with the color of your keycaps, but wish they had cool legends? Check out this waterslide decal tutorial.

Who Needs Gasoline When You’ve Got Sodium?

YouTuber and serial debunker [Thunderf00t] was thinking about the use of sodium to counteract global warming. The theory is that sodium can be used as a fuel when combusted with air, producing a cloud of sodium hydroxide which apparently can have a cooling effect if enough of it is kicking around the upper atmosphere. The idea is to either use sodium directly as a fuel, or as a fuel additive, to increase the aerosol content of vehicle emissions and maybe reduce their impact a little.

One slight complication to using sodium as a fuel is that it’s solid at room temperature, so it would need to be either delivered as pellets or in liquid form. That’s not a major hurdle as the melting point is a smidge below 100 degrees Celsius and well within the operating region of an internal combustion engine, but you can imagine the impact of metal solidifying in your fuel system. Luckily, just like with solder eutectic mixes, sodium-potassium alloy happens to remain in liquid form at handleable temperatures and only has a slight tendency to spontaneously ignite. So that’s good.

Initial experiments using ultrasonic evaporators proved somewhat unsuccessful due to the alloy’s electrical conductivity and tendency to set everything on fire. The next attempt was using a standard automotive fuel injector from the petrol version of the Ford Fiesta. Using a suitable container, a three-way valve to allow the introduction of fuels, and an inert argon feed (preventing spontaneous combustion in the air), delivering the liquid metal fuel into the fuel injector seems straightforward enough.

[Thunderf00t] started with ethanol, then worked up to pentane before finally attempting to use the feisty sodium-potassium, once the bugs had been shaken out of the high-speed video setup. [Thunderf00t] does stress the importance of materials selection when handling this potential liquid metal fuel, since it apparently just bursts into flames in a violent manner on contact with incompatible materials. Heck, this stuff even reacts with PTFE, which is generally considered a very resistant material. We’re totally convinced we’d not like to see this stuff being pumped from a roadside gas station, at all, but it sure is a fun concept to think about.

Sodium-Potassium alloy doesn’t feature on these pages too often, but here’s a little fountain of the stuff, just because why not?

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3D Printing With Rice Might Be Nice

The United Nations Industrial Development Organization recently pointed out a possible replacement for petrochemical-based polymers: rice resin. A Japanese company makes the material from inedible rice and also makes a biodegradable polymer known as Neoryza, which seems to contain some amount of rice as well. The rice resin contains 10 to 70% rice waste. You can see a video with English subtitles about the material below.

According to the video, there is plenty of waste rice. The resulting resin isn’t as toxic as petrochemical-based plastics and doesn’t consume food crops like other plant-based polymers. The video shows the rice resin being extruded like a normal polymer, so it should work like any other thermoplastic.

The video says the properties are similar to petrochemical-based plastics and no special equipment is required to handle it. They also claim that production is easier because, unlike other bioplastics, they don’t generate ethanol as the first part of the process. Waste rice should be cheap to obtain since it is essentially trash today. We aren’t sure what polymers are used in the 90 to 30% of the plastic that isn’t rice, but presumably, that is being brought in as a raw material.

We’ll be interested to see if anyone tries to make 3D printing filament from the stuff. We know that it is being used to replace polyethylene in furniture. We couldn’t help but think about using waste coffee grounds in 3D printing. If you want to compare this to PLA, we’ve talked quite a bit about the corny polymer.

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Researchers Find “Inert” Components In Batteries Lead To Cell Self-Discharge

When it comes to portable power, lithium-ion batteries are where it’s at. Unsurprisingly, there’s a lot of work being done to better understand how to maximize battery life and usable capacity.

Red electrolytic solution, which should normally be clear.

While engaged in such work, [Dr. Michael Metzger] and his colleagues at Dalhousie University opened up a number of lithium-ion cells that had been subjected to a variety of temperatures and found something surprising: the electrolytic solution within was a bright red when it was expected to be clear.

It turns out that PET — commonly used as an inert polymer in cell assembly — releases a molecule that leads to self-discharge of the cells when it breaks down, and this molecule was responsible for the color change. The molecule is called a redox shuttle, because it travels back and forth between the cathode and the anode. This is how an electrochemical cell works, but the problem is this happens all the time, even when the battery isn’t connected to anything, causing self-discharge.

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Old Ham Wisdom Leads To Better Aluminum Painting

When [bdk6] tried painting aluminum for electronic projects, he found it didn’t tend to stay painted. It would easily scratch off or, eventually, even flake off. The problem is the paint doesn’t want to adhere to the aluminum oxide coating around the metal. Research ensued, and he found an article in an old ham radio magazine about a technique that he could adapt to get good results painting aluminum.

Actually, paint apparently adheres poorly, even to non-oxidized aluminum. So the plan is to clean and remove as much aluminum oxide as possible. Then the process will convert the aluminum surface to something the paint sticks to better. Of course, you also need the right kind of paint.

The key ingredients are phosphoric acid and zinc phosphate. Phosphoric acid is found in soft drinks, but is also sold as a concrete and metal prep for painting. The zinc phosphate is part of a special paint known as a self-etching primer.

Cleaning takes soap, elbow grease, and sandpaper. The next step is a long soak in the phosphoric acid. Then you apply a few coats of self-etching primer and sand. Once it is all set, you can paint with your normal paint. That’s usually epoxy-based paint for [bdk6].

Of course, you can also dye aluminum while anodizing it. Soldering aluminum also has its challenges.

Making The One Ring By Electroplating Gold On A 3D Print

Electroplating is a great way to add strength or shine to a 3D print. However, we don’t see too many people trying it with gold. [HEN3DRIK] isn’t afraid to experiment, though, and pulled off some amazing, high-quality jewelry-grade plating!

The design for the project was the so-called Ring of Power from Lord of the Rings. The print was created on a resin printer at a high quality level, washed thoroughly to remove any remaining resin, and then cured. The print was then post-processed with sandpaper to make it as smooth as possible. Conductive paint was then applied, ready to take on the plating layers. [HEN3DRIK] first started by plating copper to build up a tough base layer, then nickel to prevent mixing between the copper and gold. The gold is then finally plated on top. Plating the copper is done with the ring constantly rotating to get as even a coat as possible. In contrast, the gold plating is done with a brush to avoid wasting the highly-expensive plating solution.

The final result is a gleaming gold ring that probably feels strangely light in the hand. The technique is time consuming, thanks to the need to plate multiple layers, but the results are to die for. We’ve seen [HEN3DRIK]’s fine work before, too. Video after the break.

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