When something new and fantastical like 3D printing comes along and starts gaining steam, soon after it’s common for many accessories and peripheral devices to follow on its coattails. While that does seem to be the intent of Monolith Studio’s Orbit 1, the metal plating device they have developed and just shown off at Maker Faire 2014 in NYC, seems to encompass a whole world of its own, demonstrating surprising versatility.
Metal 3D printers generally cost hundreds of thousands of dollars and are used in more professional atmospheres where the big budgets reign. While 3D printing in metal is on the upswing with more and more metal 3D printing devices being sold, you still probably aren’t going to see them in many private homes any time soon, which means the 3D printing enthusiasts without the big bucks will have to work around that. And getting creative is what 3D printing is all about to begin with.
The Orbit 1, coming to market soon, will cater to the wallet size of the hobbyist, with devices costing under $5,000. The device acts sort of like a dunking tank for your 3D product, where you can coat it in the metal of your choice. With current options of nickel, copper, lead, and gold, the product is coated with the choice metal and then dipped into the Orbit 1, hanging from a hook on the lid, after which it is rotated in metal liquid and chemicals.
An app is also supplied for controlling the process on two different settings whether you prefer simple or advanced, as well as offering alerts for when to change the solution. Multi-tasking in another popular 3D printing arena as well, the metal solution can also be used to make electronics, due to the properties of nickel, copper and gold, which are excellent conductors of electricity. 3D printed electronics are a fast-growing area of interest in the industry as of late, and the Orbit 1 might prove to be one possible solution.
Aside from being a great, cost-efficient idea, the Orbit 1 just looks like it would be fun to use. With the advent of the desktop 3D printer and the industry’s progression into one-stop-shop manufacturing–rather than just being limited to printing of samples and prototypes–accessories, embellishments, and yes, coatings are sure to be very popular in the future. From decoupage to adornments, to dunking your 3D printed goodies in metal solutions, it’s only the beginning in terms of the testing and experimenting with the limits of this medium.
The Orbit 1 ‘Go-Plating’ finish should work on just about any material, which means you might find plenty of items to turn into metal. This apparatus is a versatile invention all on its own, with a great deal of obvious potential. While it should sell for $3,000 to $4,000, expect to see this product on Kickstarter in early 2015. Is this a product you are interesting in trying? What implications could it have on the 3D printing space in general? Let’s hear your thoughts in the Orbit 1 forum thread at 3DPB.com.