The hyper-realistic, retractable plasma lightsaber that YouTuber James Hobson and his crew at Hacksmith Industries engineered reaches a scorching temperature of 2,200 degrees C, or 3,992 degrees F. The company is based out of Kitchener, Ontario.
“That’s above the melting point of most metals. It’s pretty dangerous.” Hobson said to As It Happens host Carol Off.
Hobson and team Hacksmith unveiled the prototype last week on their YouTube channel. The team released a second video today that shows the lightsaber slicing through metal siding, a mannequin Stormtrooper, and a steel plate that’s similar to a vault door at a bank.
The lightsaber strongly resembles those made famous in the Star Wars franchise universe. Similar to those used by the iconic Jedi’s, the blade beam is made out of plasma that is able to retract and extend by the push of a button.
The beam consists of liquid oxygen gas and propane gas that’s “mixed in a really fancy laminar flow gas nozzle” which is the technology that jumping fountains use to control the flow of water.
“The beam is very straight and narrow, whereas if you were to just light propane on fire, you’re going to get a flamethrower effect as you’d see inside of a barbecue,” Hobson stated.
“But because we’re using this very fancy laminar flow nozzle, we’re able to get the solid-looking beam of white-hot fire, basically.”
The plasma is capable of changing colors according to different salts that are added to the mixture. Boric acid turns the plasma beam green to resemble Yoda’s lightsaber, sodium chloride makes the plasma turn a bright yellow like Rey’s, and Strontium chloride will turn the plasma beam bright red to resemble those who’ve succumbed to “The Dark Side.”
However, there is one key difference to lightsabers in Star Wars, being that in real-life they aren’t 100-percent mobile and require an external electricity pack worn on the back.
“Even with all our new equipment and capabilities here at Hacksmith Industries, we’re still bound by the laws of thermodynamics,” Hobson explained on YouTube.
“We don’t exactly have D-size batteries capable of putting out more power than a nuclear power plant, which by the way, is what you’d need for a lightsaber to function like it does in the movies.”
The Hacksmith team made previous efforts at recreating a lightsaber, and the whole point of what they do is to replicate otherwise fictional objects using real-world engineering and technology. The team previously created real-life versions of Iron-Man’s helmet, Captain America’s shield, Batman’s grappling hook, and Inspector Gadget’s helicopter hat.
“It’s literally our bread and butter. It’s what we come to work to do every day.” And obviously, lightsabers are one of the most famous and most popular sci-fi technologies in the world,” Hobson said.
Hobson holds a bachelor’s degree in mechanical systems engineering, he previously quit his job in 2015 to dedicate his time to Hacksmith Industries. Since 2015, the team has grown into having 14 employees, and a successful YouTube channel that has 10.2 million subscribers.
Hobson said the idea is to be an inspiration to youths to take interest in technology, science, math, and engineering.
“Because we’ve been doing it so long, we’ve gotten comments now, like: ‘I went to engineering school because of your videos, and now I’ve graduated and now I’m working as an engineer.’ And it’s really rewarding to hear stuff like that,” Hobson said.
The prototypes are not for sale and Hobson said these projects are not meant to be tried at home.
Hobson says that “It’s not about teaching them how to do what we’re doing. It’s showing them what’s possible through engineering. It’s bringing your wildest ideas to life.”
Kyle James Lee – The AEGIS Alliance – This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.