ChromIts are a popular children's toy, particularly among the Minmatar. They consist of a number of small magnetic orbs composed of a material that becomes unstable when exposed to heat. Orbs that are warmed in such a manner are touched together then slowly drawn apart, creating a thin spindle between them which then hardens under ultraviolet light. By repeating this and utilizing the magnetic properties of the orbs, the ChromIts can be used to create a number of structures and sculptures.
ChromIts were developed almost by accident by Boundless Creation. In an attempt to create a new, cheap yet sturdy building material, Boundless Creation researched a number of partially stable alloys. The initial idea was to find a compound that could be easily transported, molded into a desired shape on location, and quickly set while maintaining structural integrity. Many early attempts at meeting this goal came tantalizingly close, but always had some flaw.
One of the many flawed compounds was known internally as Chrom-II, consisting of chromium and several other elements. The compound was easily transportable and maintained structural integrity, but required a tremendous heat expenditure in order to properly mold into shape. Additionally, the compound had a heavy magnetic field around it, meaning it could not be used around electronics without heavy shielding.
Many attempts were made to find a useful application, but other materials always seemed to provide better results. The compound was shelved for several decades, until Boundless Creation decided to sell off some of its undeveloped assets in order to raise capital. Chrom-II was purchased relatively cheaply by Eridan Artu, a metallurgist and hobbyist tinkerer.
Artu initially viewed the compound simply as a curiosity and played around with it in his own lab. He eventually molded his stock of the material into a number of magnetic orbs to give away as gifts and sell as oddities. According to Artu, one day he absentmindedly left several of the orbs sitting over a burner, heating them up. When he returned and removed them from the heat, he found that they left very fine threads between them when pulled apart while mostly retaining their orb shape.
Fascinated by this unexpected behavior, he experimented further and discovered that exposure to ultraviolet light hardened the threads into a rigid structure that easily retained its shape. Being a tinkerer himself, he quickly realized the use of the material to build models and other structures. He began manufacturing additional Chrom-II, designed a heater that would warm the outer layers, and branded the orbs as "ChromIts".
Within a few months, he had sold out of his stock of ChromIts and found demand outstripped his ability to manufacture additional ChromII. Artu secured a loan from Garoun Investment Bank to buy a plant capable of meeting his needs and launched ChromIts on a cluster-wide scale. The toys quickly became hits within the Republic, with a number of techniques sprouting up on how to best utilize them.
Today, ChromIts remain a popular hobby among both Minmatar children and older hobbyists.
A typical ChromIts kit consists of twenty ChromIts orbs, a heater that resembles a twofold pencil sharpener, and an ultraviolet light. Each orb is about 6 cm in diameter and is composed of Chrom-II, a chemical compound consisting of chromium and several other elements. The exact composition of Chrom-II is a highly guarded secret and is protected by numerous patents throughout the cluster.
Each orb is fairly magnetic, particularly toward other ChromIts. When heated to a fairly moderate temperature of 45 degrees Celsius, the orbs become somewhat unstable. Human touch is not enough to make any alterations to the structure of the orbs, but when touched together, the strong magnetic interaction between two orbs causes the outer skin of the orbs to flow toward each other. If gently pulled apart, a few-millimeters-thin thread will stretch between the two orbs, held together by their magnetic field. When exposed to ultraviolet light, the thread becomes rigid and loses its magnetic attraction, though the orbs retain their own magnetism.
ChromIts are utilized in two primary ways. The first is through "hot joining". In this process, multiple ChromIts are linked together in a network by warming and linking them through the spindles. This is considered a beginner's way of using the orbs, as it requires less delicacy and precision in construction.
The second method is through "cold joining". Cold joining is done by creating a number of hot joined "batons" composed of two orbs each. The ends of the batons are then connected through magnetism only. This is considered a much more difficult method of construction, as the design must be balanced for pressure, else it will collapse.
Some inexperienced users "cheat" the cold joining by using adhesives to keep the batons joined. This makes it appear as if magnetism is holding them together, when in actuality little thought has been given to balancing pressures.
There is some debate as to which method of joining is better. While cold joining requires more expertise and thought given to design, hot joining allows for more complex and unbalanced structures to be created. Cold joining advocates often claim that cold joining can produce structures just as complex as long as care is taken to ensure proper balance, but hot joiners counter that certain structures are "impossible" to build without causing a collapse.