3D printing KeyCaps


(Stefan Eichberger) #1

Hi Ho!

Are there some CAD files available of the keycap design ?
I would like to 3D print some keys a bit differently ( the FN key for instance ) to see if it would help my experience.

I couldn’t find them on git hub so I’m wondering if they even are available ?

thanks and cheers

Emacsimize


(Stefan Eichberger) #2

Well, Hello Again ! :slight_smile:

Since I have some troubles with the FN-Key ( I hit it when I don’t want to) I made my own one.
This is a 3D printed key cap the FN-Key with a dent in it, which turned out very well.
Here are some pictures:


It even glows nicely:

And I proudly present the worlds first keyboardio fidget spinner !

and here is a short movie,straight from my camera (I hope that animated gif works)
output

Here are the Onshape file of the FN-Key if you want to give it a try:

!!! Attention !!!
!!And I mean it for real!!
Due to the nature of the Mathias Keys I have to warn you. The pin for the mounting slot is 4.5 mm x 2.2 mm!
This isn’t a lot of material. Since how FDM printing works, it’s likely that you can break the pin and it will stuck in the key switch slot. Mine works fine but be warned (again) I’m not responsible if you clog up you switch !!
!!! Attention !!!

https://cad.onshape.com/documents/69acee4fe669c0504dfd9991/w/c1f67ffa6cdd45254e0f9700/e/b0f5ff64bd22f5e8b762b69e
If you are interested in how I made the spinner, please let me know. I’ll gladly help you or sell it to you :slight_smile:

cheers
Emacsimize


(Jesse) #3

Ok, that’s pretty amazing.

(And thank you for warning people about possibly ending up destroying switches due to stems breaking off.)


(Pnewb) #4

There’s a pretty well done OpenSCAD library available here: https://github.com/rsheldiii/openSCAD-projects/tree/master/key

I’ve toyed around with the options, and it looks promising, but I’ve yet to dial in my printer enough to trust that I can give it a shot, due to the warning above.


(Stefan Eichberger) #5

I happened to stumble over this library but I gave up on it since I’m hopeless at OpenSCAD.

Regarding stability of the stem. It would help if the key would be printed laying on one side, but this would require a raft and complex support. The result would most likely look ugly.

An other idea would be to drill a 1mm hole into the stem and glue some wire,nail into it, that I guess would be the most rigid solution

cheers


(Noseglasses) #6

Don’t let kids get too close to your M01. If I imagine me being a kid, I’d eat your Fn Key and spin the keyboard to shreds :crazy_face:


(Stefan Eichberger) #7

Hehe, It’s secure. It’s in the office and I spin it hard :slight_smile:


(Keith Simmons) #8

@emacsimize I think you could improve the strength of the mounting pin by printing it so that the layers are parallel to the slot instead of perpendicular. This would require printing the key in two pieces, but you could easily make a female pin slot in the key cap which could be joined by acetone fusing or super glue. I suspect that the strength would be WAY better if printed in this way and would greatly reduce the chance of snapping the pin off in the switch.

I could even imagine finding or cutting a piece of plastic to use in this situation as the pin so that it is stronger than the printed parts. Maybe laser cutting some thin acrylic could work? What are your thoughts @jesse


Short Travel Keycaps?
(Stefan Eichberger) #9

Oh WOW, This is brilliant simple thinking.
With this solution I’m less afraid of sharing it and hope that more people will try to print their own custom keys.

Here is a picture of the updated design


And a picture about the print orientation

The print orientation of the little stem pin is crucial. This way the layers will be aligned in the inserting direction and won’t break easily.

cheers
Emacsimize


(Pnewb) #10

You know…for other keys if you oversize the receptacle a little bit and let gravity assist in keeping the keycaps in place (emphasis on “little bit” and “assist”), you could pull keys without having to pull the stem from the keyswitch. That might be nice for testing out multiple caps and doing prototyping with a lower risk of destroying the switches.


(Jon C) #11

Hi,

Eagerly awaiting my Model01 (should be arriving today according to UPS) - but just a note about 3D printing with FDM. Yes, 4.5x2.2mm is small. But it’s not impossible to get rigid. In fact, PLA in general will not feel super nice as a material, compared to other options you may choose for rigidity.

Of course, ABS is a well known material and that may work. But I’d suggest PETG or nylon filament for printing custom keycaps. Both have a nicer feeling to the touch and much stronger layer adhesion. That should strongly mitigate the risk of broken stem pins.

But! Nylon is incredibly hard to print right. It’s strongly hygroscopic (moisture absorbent) and needs to print completely dry. It also tends to warp significantly.

PETG, on the other hand, prints almost as easily as PLA, you just need a higher nozzle temp and extra clearance on your first layer (or you end up gunking up your printer head).

Your solution about extracting the stem pin into a separate part is also a good one. If you want to bond the stem pin to the key strongly and permanently, I advise Cyano-Acrylate (CA) glue with the kicker spray (CA alone won’t bond well to PLA).

Very cool project and I may design some custom keycaps of my own after I’ve had a chance to get used to my Model 01 :slight_smile:


(Keith Simmons) #12

I’m curious about your suggestion for CA glue with the kicker for an inserted pin. My understanding of using CA glue with a kicker is that it sets almost instantly when sprayed which would make it hard to get it to set with the pin inserted. Am I missing something?


(Jon C) #13

What I usually do is apply medium CA, position the parts together, and when they’re well aligned, hit them with a squirt of kicker - then it solidifies.