Nickel Dragon’s Dice
The fastest flying metal every created, this high temp super alloy is used in everything from turbine blades, to corrosive salt environments, to antibacterial medical lab equipment, and even the hypersonic X-15.
Make The Space Age Possible
Nickel made the Space Age Possible. Without it, the X-15 never flys, the turbo pumps for the Saturn Rocket don’t exist, and NASA never could come close to building a Space Shuttle main engine.
This metal is responsible for a class of metallic alloys know as Super Alloys. Without which, modern life would not be possible. From corrosion resistant stainless steels, to the Iconels that made the space age possible, and the antimicrobial super conducting cupronickels, Nickel is at the heart of our modern society.
We’re known for working with exotic materials that require special tooling or techniques. Iconel, the nickel alloy we use in our dice, takes that to the extreme. Typically machined in a process called hard milling.
Iconel eats traditional tooling and is incredibly unforgiving to mistakes as it work hardens rapidly.
Grinding is also difficult as it is abrasion resistant and thus wears abrasives quickly, though it does polish quite readily.
Science and Lasers Oh My!
Unlike other metal dice on the market, our Dragon’s Breath Dice receive their numbers at the very end of the crafting process. This makes for incredibly crisp and hyper-contrasted numbers. They are engraved with a laser ablation process. Which is a fancy way of saying we blast the surface with 1.21 gigawatts of laser beam awesome sauce that vaporizes the nickel in to its constituent components leaving behind an ultra polished number recessed a few thousandths of an inch deep. This process leaves the perfect balance of the underlying platonic solid completely intact, unlike machining away a deeply recessed number.
How Its Made
The Earth has a lot of Nickel, A Lot of Nickel. The vast majority of which is located at the center of the earth making up the magnetic dynamo that powers the Earth’s magnetic fields which do things like protect us from the solar winds, cosmic rays, and forms those achingly beautiful Northern Lights of the Aurora Borealis.
At the surface we can find Nickel in brightly colored ores like this garishly green Garnierite seen above.
Those ores are then smelted down in a flash smelting process you can read more about here.
Dragon’s Breath Finish
Like all of our metal dice, our Nickel Dragon’s Dice receive our signature Dragon’s Breath Finish. This is a heat anodization process applied by hand to each die. The artisan’s skill here is showcased in the bright vivid coloration unique to each individual dice. This coloration will range in hues from faded denim to cerulean.
Just how are we able to attain such a vibrant color pallet? Through science of course! Our Dragon’s Breath process involves an exceedingly intense flame, over 3,700 degrees Fahrenheit to be exact. Under this blast of pure distilled draconic hate, the base metal undergoes a surface transformation by reacting with atmospheric oxygen. This reaction forms a clear crystalline oxide layer that is much harder than the base metal making our Nickel Dragon’s Breath Dice even tougher.
Thin Film Interference
But how does this layer of clear nickel crystal create those beautiful colors?!?! Through the magic of a soap bubble.
Soap bubbles are made of a very thin film of... well soap.
Much like the soap bubble above, light can both pass through and reflect off the surface of the clear crystalline layer formed by our Dragon’s Breath process. This happens at the molecular level meaning the difference between both the reflective surface of the crystalline layer and the base nickel are mere nanometers apart. This happens to coincide with the wave length of light.
Using this interference in the reflected light we can control the perceived color of the die simply by control how thick we allow the outer layer of nickel crystal to grow. This is done by carefully controlling the amount of heat the die is exposed to and how long the die is left at elevated temperatures. Depending on the final thickness in a given area of the die we can achieve different levels of both constructive interference and destructive interference.
If you’d like to deep dive in to the world of thin film interference Harvard University has published this fantastic article.
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