[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.
Continue reading “Anodizing Titanium In Multiple Colors”
If we asked you to design a circuit to blink a flashing turn signal, you would probably reach for a cheap micro or a 555. But old cars used bimetallic strips in a thermomechanical design. Why? Because, initially, 555s and microcontrollers weren’t available. [Breaking Taps] has the story of NASA engineers who needed some special cooling chambers in a rocket design for the Space Shuttle. Today you’d 3D print them, but in the 70s, that wasn’t an option. So they used wax. You can see a video about the process, including a build of a model rocket engine, in the video below.
The issue is the creation of tiny cooling channels in the combustion chamber. You can use additional thin pipes brazed onto the engine. However, there are several disadvantages to doing this way, but early rocket engines did it anyway. Having the cooling path integrated into the system would be ideal, but without 3D printing, it seems difficult to do. But not impossible.
Continue reading “The Shuttle Engine Needed 3D Printing, But…”
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.
Continue reading “Making The One Ring By Electroplating Gold On A 3D Print”
We all want to 3D print metals, but the equipment to do that is still beyond most home workshops. However, [HEN3DRIK] takes resin 3D-printed items and electroplates them. Might not be as good as printing in metal, but it sure looks metallic. As you can see in the video below, the sword looks like it was crafted from highly-polished steel.
The sword comes out in four pieces. He repeats several times that sanding is the key because you must have flat surfaces. Using sandpaper and steel wool, he worked the parts to a fine finish. The parts assemble along an M8 threaded rod to form a whole. The next step was to electroplate with copper.
Continue reading “Electroplated 3D Printed Sword: Shiny!”
3D printing is known for producing parts with a fairly average finish at best. Even the smoothest resin prints are still fairly plasticky and dull in appearance. However, it’s possible to do much better if you get creative with electroplating. This thermal detonator prop from [HEN3DRIK] shows just how good a 3D print can look with a little post-processing and some chemical help.
[HEN3DRIK] started with a Star Wars thermal detonator model found online, and printed it in resin for the best possible surface finish from the get go. The parts were cleaned after printing and cured, as per usual resin processing techniques. From there, fine steel wool and sandpaper was used to make the print as smooth as possible. A conductive layer of copper paint was then sprayed on with an airbrush, with mating surfaces masked off to avoid ruining the fit.
The part was then dunked in an acidic copper bath while attached to a power source, and gently rotated during the electroplating process. The results were excellent, resulting in near-mirror finish copper-plated parts after polishing. Nickel was then plated on top to get the prop to the proper silver color. The prop was finally then assembled with an Arduino Nano inside to run several LEDs for visual effect.
Electroplating isn’t just for making things pretty. It can also add strength to your 3D prints, too! Video after the break.
Continue reading “Electroplating Makes 3D-Printed Star Wars Prop Shine”
Using a process akin to electroplating, researchers at the University of Oldenburg have 3D printed structures at the 25 nanometer scale. A human hair, of course, is thousands of time thicker than that. The working medium was a copper salt and a very tiny nozzle. How tiny? As small as 1.6 nanometers. That’s big enough for two copper ions at once.
Tiny nozzles are prone to every 3D printer’s bane: clogged nozzles. To mitigate this, the team built a closed-loop control that measured electrical current between the work area and inside the nozzle. You can read the full paper online.
Continue reading “3D Printing Gets Tiny”
Conductive filament exists, but it takes more than that to 3D print something like a circuit board. The main issue is that traces made from conductive filament are basically resistors; they don’t act like wires. [hobochild]’s interesting way around this problem is to use electroplating to coat 3D-printed traces with metal, therefore creating a kind of 3D-printed circuit board. [hobochild] doesn’t yet have a lot of nitty-gritty detail to share, but his process seems fairly clear. (Update: good news! here’s the project page and GitHub repository with more detail.)
The usual problem with electroplating is that the object to be coated needs to be conductive. [hobochild] addresses this by using two different materials to create his test board. The base layer is printed in regular (non-conductive) plastic, and the board’s extra-thick traces are printed in conductive filament. Electroplating takes care of coating the conductive traces, resulting in a pretty good-looking 3D-printed circuit board whose conductors feature actual metal. [hobochild] used conductive filament from Proto-pasta and the board is a proof-of-concept flashing LED circuit. Soldering might be a challenge given the fact that the underlying material is still plastic, but the dual-material print is an interesting angle that even allows for plated vias and through-holes.
We have seen conductive filament used to successfully print workable electrical connections, but applications are limited due to the nature of the filament. Electroplating, a technology accessible to virtually every hacker’s workbench, continues to be applied to 3D printing in interesting ways and might be a way around these limitations.