Wednesday, 18 July 2012

How to Make a Robocop Suit?

I  wrote earlier about the surface tension of liquid metal and how the surface tension properties of the T-1000 molten metal.  However, one of the Terminators nemesis at least in the comic books is the not-so-lovable cyborg Robocop.  This was every boys dream.  Half man, half machine.

Well...I got news for you.  He is coming back in a new movie in 2013 which will focus on the building of .  It is following in the footsteps of Batman where we the early stages of Robocop (trailer below).

Robocop could be in the near future.  With CyberDyne's or Omnicorp I mean with Google's new robot brain maps and with technologies like electronics and biped defence systems Robocop could be close to reality.  However, to make it more of a reality you have to look at the small things that help to make him withstand bullets, fire, corrosion.  Most electronics and our brains are very fragile.  A gentle fall can destroy any hard drive and bruise many brains.  Protection is needed in order to make sure that any of the electronics or neural networks will be protected.  In Robocop's case his other organs need to be protected and not just the brain and electronics inside his suit.  To do this you need plating..

Robocop metal plating needs to serve a number of functions though.
1) It has to be cool so he can get respect. In Detroit they do not give respect to anyone.
2) It has to be light enough to move
3) It has to be bulletproof

So the best thing to do is make a completely awesome metal suit with a chrome plated helmet and a nickel plated suit.

The Chrome Plated Helmet

Robocop has a chrome plated helmet.  (Note: the new movie has figured out the problem of the chin strap and the helmet size).

Two types of chrome can be done decorative chrome or hard chrome plating.  Robocop most likely would want the hard chrome to protect whatever is underneath.
The chrome plating is done using a chrome bath where the base metal is cleaned thoroughly.  Then the metal is activated and put into a chrome plating vat, warmed and the plating using electrodes for a given amount of time for a given thickness.

There are two different kinds of chrome plating baths that need to be maintained in order to get the required results.  Trivalent Chrome and Hexavalent Chrome baths are used.  Two problems exist with the latter which is used quite extensively for hard chrome plating.  The first is that the cathodes are weak.  To help with this they use more anodes in the solution to increase the plating efficiency.  The second is related to the low cathode efficiency and high solution viscosity.  A mist of water and hexavalent chromium is released from the bath, which is toxic.  In order to make a Robocop helmet you have to maintain the bath at 35 mN/m or you might get a visit from the Environmental Protection Agency or get something far worse, cancer.

The Nickel Plated Suit

Engineering nickel can be used for corrosion and wear resistance.  This makes it perfect for Robocop's suit and plating for military vehicles after first being introduced in 1899 to strengthen traditional steel.

The process of nickel plating is similar to other types of electrolysis.   It requires the passage of direct current between two electrodes that are immersed in this case into a conductive, aqueous solution of nickel salts.  The cathode is covered in nickel by the flow of direct current from the anode.  The nickel in the present form is divalent positively charged ions.  When the current flows these ion react with two electrons and converted to the metallic nickel on the cathode (metal) surface.  To balance it out the nicekl ions discharge at the cathode are replenished by those formed at the anode.  

The same applies in Nickel Plating as it does in Chrome Plating: the anode and cathode need to be efficient.  In Nickel plating under normal conditions the anode is 100% whereas the cathode can vary from 92-97%..   If the pH is too high hydroxyl ions will dissipate in the solution to make bubble that might cling to the parts to be plated.  If this happens pitting occurs.  So to control for this platers have used wetting agents or surfactants, formulated specifically for nickel plating solutions.  These are always added to control pitting; with their function is to lower the surface tension of the plating solution so that air and hydrogen bubbles do not cling to the parts being plated.  

So Chrome plating and Nickel plating cannot be done without controlling the surface tension of the baths.  This can be easily performed with a surface tensiometer.  Its the little things that help to make awesome things like Robocop and the other robots made by Omnicorp.