This week’s selection is the electroplated Thor Hammer by engineer Ian Chamas.
Cleveland-based Chamas has a YouTube channel where he produces shows detailing his exploits in developing highly unusual devices and objects. For example, you might be interested in his robotic head massager, or a talking backpack, or jetpack roller-skates. You get the idea.
Chamas’ most recent project involves 3D printing the Thor Hammer from the Marvel Universe. This item is extraordinarily common, as 3D models of it can be found everywhere. A quick search on Thingiverse just now shows something near 200 models related to the Thor Hammer.
So it’s as easy as downloading and 3D printing the hammer?
Not quite. Chamas decided to take a further step by electroplating the 3D print to make it conductive. This was done for a very good reason: portability. Imagine 3D printing a Thor Hammer entirely in metal; it would weigh a considerable amount and be downright difficult to tote around, let alone swing over your head in a dramatic fashion.
Don’t get me wrong here; the Thor Hammer has indeed been 3D printed entirely in metal. Last year Spee3D used their supersonic metal 3D printer to whip up a completely solid copper Thor Hammer in only ten minutes.
But their hammer would only be useful for display, not for carrying around.
Thus Chamas decided to make a lightweight PLA Thor Hammer, and then electroplate it.
Wait, why is Chamas putting a metal coating on the hammer? Stay tuned, you’ll see what happens.
Rather than simply buying an electroplating system, Chamas decided to re-invent electroplating through experiments, quite a daunting task. After literally hundreds of experiments, he arrived at a homemade electroplating process (involving chemicals, voltages, temperatures and timing) that could reliably produce outstanding metal surfaces.
The 3D printed hammer received the new electroplating process, and the results were excellent, as you can see in this image.
But why metal? Chamas had a secret plan to literally electrify the hammer. By using an extremely powerful Tesla coil, he produced indoor lightning that struck the hammer in dramatic form, as seen above.
Dangerous? Certainly. Fortunately, under the costume Chamas is wearing a full-body chain mail outfit to deflect the frying electricity.
It’s an incredible 3D printing project, and you can watch the entire story in Chamas’ video here: