It’s a rare individual not drawn to the rich allure of gold. Our need and constant quest for the treasured metal has manifested itself in nearly every part of the world and is responsible for causing economies to soar, and tumble. It’s an interest and obsession that has been part of the human paradigm since the earliest empires of man.
Affordability is of course one of the issues with gold and other precious metals, but electro-plating is an excellent process meant to turn other items into gold at a fraction of the price—by depositing a thin layer (or plate) of gold on another metal surface, or a number of layers as desired in order to preserve the gold piece. This idea, of course, fits right in with the concept of additive manufacturing, or 3D printing. And it doesn’t just apply to gold, as jewelry designers and artists can use a number of different metals for plating items.
What could be more enticing than drenching your 3D printed object in precious metal? The team at Monolith Studio, Inc, has just launched a Kickstarter campaign aimed at enticing you to support their latest project for the Orbit 1, which opens a new and more affordable world to makers who are interested in adding serious polish as they finish their 3D printed works. Touted as ‘A Tabletop Electroplater That Turns Your Ideas into Gold,’ the Orbit 1 is a versatile, aesthetically pleasing device that offers fun and valuable finishing options to the 3D printing enthusiast.
We’ve reported on Orbit 1 previously, as they attended the Maker Faire in NYC last fall, exhibiting an earlier prototype of the already impressive machine. Since then, the Orbit 1 has been further developed and refined into an even more intelligent coating device. Currently, users can coat their 3D printed objects or other materials in the following:
The user basically performs several simple steps requiring cleaning and spraying of the object, and then dipping it in the metal solution (made up of copper sulfate and optional nickel sulfamate) after attaching it to a rack so that it stays in place and can be lowered into the Orbit 1. The machine is turned on and in an ongoing immersive layering process, the plating is applied at the desired setting for thickness, taking at least a couple of hours.
Orbit 1 is also conveniently controlled by a user-friendly app that can be operated in smart mode under recommended settings or in an expert mode which allows for more advanced customization. The app apprises users of exactly how long the metal is immersed and how much metal has been used during the process, and even re-stocks the solution as the process continues, assuring quality.
Coating your 3D prints is as affordable as $2 per gram. The machine itself is a streamlined work of art that you’ll be happy just to have in your workshop or desktop for aesthetics when you aren’t busy finishing a bevy of different items in the metals of your choice—or even making electronics, as the metals used for plating are highly conductive.
Even those who pledge just $5 will receive a pretty cool reward in the shape of a plated leaf. At $20, supporters received either a gold- or silver-plated pen. At a heavy early-bird discount, supporters pledging $1,999 receive the full package with the Orbit 1 Bluetooth, the Orbit 1 kit, and copper plating solution. The premium package at $3,950 offers 2 Orbit 1 kits, Orbit 1 Bluetooth, and Jumbo Orbit account, plus the copper and nickel plating solution. A carrying case is available for the machine at $249.
The Monolith team, from Irvine, CA, dedicated to bringing tabletop electroplating to everyone, is well-balanced in multiple areas of engineering from mechanical to industrial to electrical engineering, and more. They also aim to make the Orbit 1 friendly to the environment.
Is this a machine you are interesting in supporting on Kickstarter? What metal do you think you would enjoy using for electro-plating, and would you be using the Orbit 1 to plate 3D printed items? Share with us in the Orbit 1 Tabletop Electroplating Device forum thread over at 3DPB.com.
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