A consumer device capable of metal printing is a sort of a holy grail aspiration, and to this point, most of the working solutions are far too expensive to be practical for use in your garage.
But Monolith Studios aims to make an end run around the problem with their Orbit 1, a device which coats 3D printed, ABS plastic objects in a metallic finish, and it looks promising indeed.
Capable of wrapping ABS in four different metal finishes, the process uses either copper, nickel, lead or gold to build up layers of the metals once they've been given an initial coating of conductive metal in a liquid solution.
Monolith says printed objects can be smoothed via a common vapor method, and once a base coating of the solution is applied to the part, the desired metal and a secret brew of chemicals are poured into the Orbit 1. As the device rotates the target object while it's immersed in the soup, the metal coating builds up evenly to achieve whatever thickness is called for.
The Orbit 1 is controlled by an app in either Smart or Expert mode. The Smart mode recommends settings which are ideal for each metal you're using to arrive at the needed thickness. In Expert mode, all the possible variables can be set down to the number of rotations the object completes while immersed in the plating solution and the total time of immersion.
And since it's essentially a desktop plating machine, the developers say it should also work with any set of objects and materials which are already conductive or can be coated with a layer of their conductive solution.
Monolith Studios also thinks their Go-Plating process might lend itself to electronics applications as nickel, copper and gold are excellent conductors.
The developers say they're aiming for a January 2015 Kickstarter campaign launch to get their device into production and they believe the finished product should retail for somewhere around $3,000 to $4,000.