Tired of buying boring keyboards with almost no customization available? We’ve seen lots of keyboard hacks before, but if you want to take it a step further — why not make it from scratch and have it 3D printed?
Reddit user [Wildpanic] has just finished his first attempt at a 3D printed keyboard and he’s even shared the files to make it over at Thingiverse. The frame is entirely 3D printed, but he’s chosen to use pre-manufactured key switches, which is probably for the best. They are the Cherry MX Green variety, which have these little clips in the side which make them super easy to install — especially on a 3D printed frame.
He’s wired them all using 20ga copper wire (which might be a bit overkill) to a Teensy 2.0 microcontroller. The diodes he chosen to use are 1N4148 which he was able to get fairly inexpensively. Total cost is just a bit over $50. Not bad!
Oh and in case you’re wondering, he’s chosen the style of keyboard that makes use of 4 keys for the space bar — as made popular by the planck style custom keyboards — you know, for people who love symmetry.
For more awesome keyboard hacks, check out this roundup [Adam Fabio] put together in a Hacklet last year!
11 thoughts on “3D Printed Mechanical Keyboard”
Having 3 or 4 Morrow keyboards down to parts, I have thought of this. However I want to have hex keytops and a 120 degree layout for a C-Thru Axis style music keyboard. Not to neg but would not regular keytops have worked here.
He could have printed them just as a concept but there are other valid reasons too – most key sets come in sculpted rows with each row having a different profile than the rest, and may not have included enough single width keys. So if you are already printing the frame why not print the keys too? It would be cheaper to print the keys than to buy them, assuming you already have all the tooling.
Pretty impressive. Though if used heavily, I bet the texture of the keycaps will soon get annoying. And dead skin will pack into the grooves, eww. Polishing them smooth might be a worthwhile extra step.
I can understand if you want a different shape key caps (e.g. arrows, textured buttons of your FPS keyboard gaming etc), but that’s not done here. Not see the point of “printing” the full set when you can get injection molded plastic key caps that are smooth and with printed letter or stickers designed for them.
As for textures, there are stickers for key cap. Eventually keys get smoothen up by constant use.
Or make a few really nice keys and then make a mold… probably faster overall than printing dozens of them anyway.
aww… i feel cheated by the headline. the most important part (the switches) are not 3d printed. what’s the big deal? they cost a buck each! :(
First Google result for “cherry mx green price” found packs of 50/100/110 of them for about $0.50 each with free shipping, which ain’t so bad for something that will feel better than anything you could possibly 3D print. They’ll probably last a lifetime and can be recycled into newer homemade keyboards as your needs change.
3D printing the actual Cherry switches is not possible with any 3d printing technology that I am aware of. This is the thing about 3d printing. It has it’s benefits but replacing injection molded plastic parts with a specific metal alloy in one print for cheap is not one of those applications at which it excels at. Printing a custom layout to clip the keyswitches into is a different story. Probably best to get the keycaps made from injection molding equipment or at least a high resolution 3d printed process too.
Due to the backlink to a previous article, then a comment about a site keyboard.io then a link on their blog, I stumbled across this link as their source for prototyping keycaps since everyone in the comments seems to be complaining about those being printed. http://www.keycapsdirect.com/
Oh whoops, and if you want to actually buy anything they redirect you over to http://keyshop.pimpmykeyboard.com/ apparently.
Print a copy of the Focus Electronics KeyPro FK-9000, complete with built in calculator and 12 programmable PF keys.
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