Beyond Star Wars: Engineers Just Invented a Lightsaber That Cuts Through Steel Like Butter

Ladies and gentlemen, Star Wars fans and movie geeks, and technology lovers listen up! We have done it! We have finally created a real-life, steel-slicing lightsaber. In 2015, engineers were stuck being major technological barriers, but here we are, five years later, and we have a lightsaber that actually works.

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Image: Hacksmith Industries

For some time, Hacksmith Industries has been working around the clock to try and bring to life some of the most iconic weapons we see in classic movies. In their newest and one of their coolest endeavors, they use electricital technology to build the world’s first functional lightsaber. The Force is definitely with these awesome guys and gals. Behold the future.

What Is It and How Does It Work?

In the Star Wars films, the Jedi’s and the Sith’s (powerful good guys and bad guys) weapon of choice is the lightsaber. It’s basically a colored blade of light that is hot enough to burn through anything, including limbs, body armor, spaceship fuselages, and steel doors. It’s ostensibly some kind of laser.

The crew over at Hacksmith Industries has managed to bring the fictional weapon to life. What they came up with is basically a lightweight metal rod that gets super heated by a battery. A lot of energy goes into the metal rod, about 20 kilowatts. That’s half the power that it takes to power the average American home. The battery is stored in a compartment carried on the user’s bag.

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Image: Hacksmith Industries

It’s pretty insane. Their lightsaber heats up to about 4000° fahrenheit. That’s easily enough to slice right through metal doors and other thick pieces of steel. In October 2020, Hacksmith Industries released a couple of videos detailing the invention process. They start will the design, cover the actual making of the lightsaber, and then they show it in action. Pretty cool stuff, certainly worth checking out.

How Close Is It to the Real Deal?

People have been trying to make lightsabers since the first Star Wars film came out in 1977. But pretty much all of them have been some sort of replica that looks cool but is not capable of doing any cutting. So again, the Hacksmith Industries lightsaber is the first functional lightsaber.

Yet there is still a long way to go technologically until we create something that truly mimics the weapons from the films. In Star Wars, the blade is made of pure energy, not from a metal rod that heats up. Unfortunately, we’re still far from creating a blade from pure energy. If we were going to use a laser, there would need to be a little mirror on the top so that the laser wouldn’t just keep traveling forever. Plus, we don’t know how to get a laser to be that hot.

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Image: Star Wars

Another option would be to use plasma, which is kind of like super-heated gas. For example, the cores of lightning bolts are plasma. But this comes with a host of its own tech issues. Where would you store all this gas? And where would you store the huge power source it would take to heat the gas up? There’s no way (yet) it would fit into the hilt of a sword. These are huge hurdles. But hey, as one science writer aptly put it, “the Galactic Empire wasn’t built in a day.”