After tragically melting my previous HV switch, and given that a 15kV multi-ampere switch isn’t exactly something you find at Radio Shack, I’ve had to resort to more drastic measures. It was time to make one from scratch.
And when I say scratch, I mean mud. And by mud, I mean porcelain.
The fine folks at Metrix CreateSpace had just to tools I needed: a 3D powder printer to make a slip cast mold, and a kiln to fire the clay into porcelain. After a couple of revisions, I settled on something vaguely resembling a cooling tower. This will let me install a tiny turbine in the bottom to pull out hot ions, while using a minimum amount of material for the switch itself.
Install some tungsten welding electrodes (held in place with high temperature silicone) and voila: a handy switch capable of handling a couple of kilowatts at 15+kV!
Did I mention that, given the incompressibility of porcelain and the shape of the cooling base, it is perhaps a little loud?