Additive Manufacturing Strategies

3D Printed, Radioactive Tritium Flashlight — Runs for 20 Years Without a Battery

ST Medical Devices

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trit singleAnd now for the latest from the “I Didn’t Know What I Was Missing” gadget files: A Multi-Functional Tritium Lantern (MFTL) that triples as a miniature flashlight, a bottle opener, and a small pry tool. Oh! And it’s a keychain, so you’re likely to have it with you at all times or at least when you’re out of the house.

The gadget, designed by an Athens, Greece-based maker and prophet of what he refers to as the “Next Industrial Revolution”–3D printing or additive manufacturing–is digitally designed and then 3D printed in stainless steel (420 stainless steel alloy with infused bronze–40%). It’s about the width of a cigarette, although a bit shorter. The designer, who’s Etsy Shop, InnovoDesign, offers the pieces for $63.58 each, says he most enjoys creating “functional, innovative, unique objects and artifacts.” We agree that there’s something kind of retro and mysterious about this gadget. The texture of the stainless steel and the shape of the object are evocative of the Art Deco style.

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The real treat, however, is the gadget’s unique feature: It glows in the dark. After its creator receives the 3D-printed objects from Shapeways (as he doesn’t print them himself), he embeds each piece with non-removable tritium isotope, with 3×22.5mm in a vial for each. The vial itself is resin and, since it is carefully embedded within the stainless steel body, it is not easily removed or broken, so you needn’t worry about leaks. You can choose what color your gadget will glow from eight different color choices. InnovoDesign also offers a larger tritium light, a “beacon,” which t1triples the glow of the smaller bottle opener-pry tool-flashlight. Our favorite piece in the Etsy shop may well be the Tritium Overlord Ring, which is 3D printed in silver and glows a satisfying, sci-fi blue. It sells for $219.95, which is an altogether reasonable price.

Tritium–symbol T or 3H as it is also known as hydrogen-3–is a radioactive isotope of hydrogen. It’s not cheap; the market price for a gram of tritium is $30,000, which is why the InnovoDesign MFTL gadget costs just under $65. We think they’re definitely worth it. Those hermetically-sealed vials are amazing little light sources thanks to the gaseous tritium isotope. It glows without requiring a light “charge,” as is the case with most phosphorescent, glow-in-the-dark products. During the day and in well-lit spaces, you won’t see the flow. In low- or no-light settings, however, the gadget will basically be your tiny lantern. As its creator boasts, it’s a genuinely, “nuclear-powered gadget.” Speaking of which, it occurs to us that the thing resembles a tiny submarine–a nuclear sub, right?

Have you ordered one of these nifty little gadgets?  Let’s hear your thoughts on it.  Discuss in the 3D Printed Radioactive Flashlight forum thread on 3DPB.com.

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