Author Topic: MYOC - Make your own caps!  (Read 39814 times)

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Offline ishtob

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« on: Sun, 06 November 2011, 23:38:21 »
So its kind of my thing to make my own stuff whenever I get into a hobby, so keyboard wasn't so different either.
I've started out plain, going to try different dyes and maybe even transparent ones (with dye.. mmmm translucent red here we go!)

Here's the product of 2 attempts so far, I will be making another mold with things i've learned from this one to hopefully get an even cleaner impression.




Good tutorial on how to make the mold w/o equipments
Here's a good tutorial on how to cast parts w/o equipments

Here's my experience for making your own mold and casting a resin (polyurethane?) cherry MX keycap.
Before we start, remember Safety first! Get some mask, eye protection, gloves, and some clothing that you dont care about. This stuff sticks eveywhere, and can irritate the skin if stuck to you for too long.

What you need:
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- protective stuff (glove, mask, goggles, etc)
- a small container (about 3x3x3 inches should be fine, i'm using my ipod nano's plastic box it came in)
- 2x paper cups
- A metal spetula (make sure never use this for icing cakes ever again)
- Clay or green stuff
- The keycap of your choice, if you do this right, it should not get damaged.
- Vaseline
- stirring rod and toothpicks

This is where I got the molding supplies: [URL=http://www.alumilite.com/products.cfm]here[/URL]


Some tips I can give you from my experience:
DOs:
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- Find a leveled table, it will make your life sooo much easier.
- Good lighting is important.
- Coat the 1st half well with vaseline, or it WILL get stuck to the other half when you pour it in.
- When casting the resin, take a toothpick, and pre-fill the whole where the stem goes, make sure you remove all the bubbles! this is important if you want a good fit.
- After the 1 hour cure time for the resin, put it in the oven @ 150F for 30-45 min, this will help harden the thin sections. Let the mold sit, and do not disassemble it until it is 100% cooled, or you may warp the cap
- take pictures if you try this! I want to see you guys do it :D


DON'Ts:
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- Don't rush
- Don't poke at the mold after the plastic is in -__- you will get some odd looking caps, trust me...
- Don't forget to wear gloves!!! Part of my thumb is peeling know because some of the catalyst got on it during my first attempt (without glvoes)




1st you need to get a silicone casting putty or mix, i used the mix, find a small container and also get yourself some clay (play dough, or if your into miniatures, green stuff = awesome)



Next, you mix the silicone, and mix SLOWLY so it does not bubble up, i've screwed up 2 mold casting so far going too fast, bubbles on the keycap surface = *sad face*



Let it sit overnight, then dig it out of the container carefully, leave the keycap and the stem in, but remove the little dots

flip this silicone mold upside down, and shove it back into the container, this is going to be your lower half of the mold, we will be doing the top half now.
Make sure the entire surface is covered by vaseline, even the inside of the stem!! (very important if you want to have a clean mold)







Do the same thing as earlier and mix another batch of silicone and pour.



let it sit overnight, and then carefully take the whole thing out, you get this:


sometimes the silicone may spill over a little over to the 1st 1/2 and make the 2 pieces stick, use an exacto knife to lightly draw over the boundry to seperate:




now clean up the edges where either side may have squeezed out a little during the molding process








Next choose whatever casting resin or material you like and treat this like any other resin casting.


Second attempt: much better this time. Try filling in the stem portion of the cap before putting it over the mold. I am also thinking the channel into the cap may be un necessary, I'm going to be making another mold sometimes this week to try to get it even cleaner.





i also added a little bit of blue glow in the dark powder to mixture A when mixing the plastic


here's the result of my first attempt:




I did not put enough plastic in, nor did I tap the mold after putting in the resin, so you cansee a bubble near the top, and the upper edge is much thinner than the bottem.

make sure to mix the resin 1:1, as exact as possible. this the result of one that I tried to eyeball:


cheers.

Offline whiskerBox

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #1 on: Mon, 07 November 2011, 00:06:39 »
This is awesome please post more! thanks for the article
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Offline ishtob

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 07 November 2011, 00:13:23 »
thanks whiskerbox, this is my first time doing casting stuff... so excuse the ugliness of my first (possibly the first few)

Offline iindigo

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #3 on: Mon, 07 November 2011, 00:15:12 »
Very cool!

Seeing this made me wonder something, though... couldn't one theoretically use one of those 3D printers that's been so popular lately (MakerBot is one I think) to print their own keycaps? There's even a dual-material version of the Makerbot in development, which could allow for doubleshot-ish key creation.

Offline slueth

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #4 on: Mon, 07 November 2011, 00:18:01 »
is this the beginning of a new click clack factory?

Offline Input Nirvana

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #5 on: Mon, 07 November 2011, 00:24:12 »
Ishtob-
Sounds like once you refine your already-great-mod-project, GH will be able to boast yet another world-wide keyboard coup! Make a nice article with more pics and the do's and don'ts and it will be a powerful wiki addition.

Now I know how I will make my Kinesis Contoured keys on my mod. :)  Thanks a bunch!

Random thoughts:
-higher quality than ABS
-any color
-no legends (smoother surface) without sandblasting
-other related custom ideas (ie-WASD can engrave)
« Last Edit: Mon, 07 November 2011, 00:38:27 by input nirvana »
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Offline whiskerBox

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #6 on: Mon, 07 November 2011, 00:31:11 »
Quote from: ishtob;447119
thanks whiskerbox, this is my first time doing casting stuff... so excuse the ugliness of my first (possibly the first few)

Hey I am all about the trial and error, and I thought the first one didn't look to bad. I have also wanted to try this so I am just excited to see someone else figuring it all out. Good luck and keep us posted
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Offline ishtob

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #7 on: Mon, 07 November 2011, 01:19:10 »
thanks for the support guys!

the current material is polyurethane resin, not sure if that's "better" than ABS or PBT, the manufacturer claimed it's "thermal plastic" -___- whatever that is suppose to mean, polyurethane at least tells me its an organic polymer formed from a chain of urethanes (or carbamate) which is much more informative, but i'm still totally clueless as to what urethane is anyways.

Anyone knows if there is another cast-able type of plastic resin that's commercially available?

Online hashbaz

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« Reply #8 on: Mon, 07 November 2011, 01:24:36 »
Well done man I love this kind of DIY hackery.
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Offline ishtob

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« Reply #9 on: Mon, 07 November 2011, 12:57:25 »
found a funny fact while looking into this polyurethane material... apparently it is used by trojan for thier latex free condoms for those who are allergic

Offline Fobbah

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« Reply #10 on: Mon, 07 November 2011, 18:41:21 »
O_O

Wow, great result. I am DEFINITELY going to try this out when i have some spare time, it looks like a lot of fun!

*cannot wait to make custom keycap designs*
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Offline hazeluff

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« Reply #11 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 08:20:48 »
Quote from: iindigo;447120
Very cool!

Seeing this made me wonder something, though... couldn't one theoretically use one of those 3D printers that's been so popular lately (MakerBot is one I think) to print their own keycaps? There's even a dual-material version of the Makerbot in development, which could allow for doubleshot-ish key creation.

You probably can, but I'm not sure how fine they can print certain parts. I've seen what the one in the Robotics club in my department can do. It does not seem like it can print thin enough for something like the stem of the keycap. Also it requires a ton of cleaning up after it prints. If you guys want to really know, I can go ask them (I think I know a guy who's in the club).


On the topic of resin keys.

I would personally make things like clickclacks. But not possible at the moment. I'm living abroad, lots of Uni stuff. But once I go for my MSc I'd be looking forward to doing this.
« Last Edit: Wed, 09 November 2011, 08:22:59 by hazeluff »

Offline ishtob

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #12 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 08:41:36 »
this is actually really easy to do, i spend less than $30 worth of material, and a load of disposable plastic shotglasses for mixing the resin

Offline ishtob

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #13 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 09:06:32 »
Quote from: hazeluff;448494
You probably can, but I'm not sure how fine they can print certain parts. I've seen what the one in the Robotics club in my department can do. It does not seem like it can print thin enough for something like the stem of the keycap. Also it requires a ton of cleaning up after it prints. If you guys want to really know, I can go ask them (I think I know a guy who's in the club).


On the topic of resin keys.

I would personally make things like clickclacks. But not possible at the moment. I'm living abroad, lots of Uni stuff. But once I go for my MSc I'd be looking forward to doing this.

I've seen some of the 3D prints, they can get pretty detailed depending on what kind of 3D printer it is. I just don't like the texture you get on the sides from the materials being layered

Offline ishtob

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #14 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 09:59:02 »
I think I've got the casting techinique down... after many failures, I think i've got a the sense of whether a bubble was introduced or not when casting.

here's what I made last night:


transparent resin coming in next week, should be fun ;D
« Last Edit: Wed, 09 November 2011, 10:16:23 by ishtob »

Offline alaricljs

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« Reply #15 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 10:16:33 »
Forget decal... how about little molded symbols :)  DIY doubleshots?
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Offline ishtob

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« Reply #16 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 10:16:44 »
lol yup, i actually got the red dye for the transparent resin too :P

Offline ishtob

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« Reply #17 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 10:20:22 »
Quote from: alaricljs;448538
Forget decal... how about little molded symbols :)  DIY doubleshots?

I'm working n idea on doing that.... problem right is I would either have to make it out of clay, or carve symbols out of an old cap, then mill the the border and stem out and use it as the template for another mold to make the inside of the doubleshot

Offline alaricljs

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« Reply #18 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 10:20:37 »
Wait, what?  Double shot back-lightable ?
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Offline ishtob

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #19 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 10:21:29 »
or i can be lazy and just do a thin layer of clear urethane, drop a piece of paper with a symbol on it, then cast the rest :P

Offline ishtob

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« Reply #20 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 10:36:59 »
Quote from: alaricljs;448542
Wait, what?  Double shot back-lightable ?

there are back-lightable already:
oon the pokerX

on a flashlight

Offline ishtob

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #21 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 10:45:05 »
yes, it has the vintage cherry keycap texture (that's what I used to cast the mold) if you hold it under a bright light youc an even see the small outline of the  "-_" key since I was using a doubleshot

I colored the face of one of the onces with a huge bubble on the underside, to show the texture


i was really surprised to see the amount of detail the silicone actually retains... my 1st mold uses a key with a small scratch on the side, and it picked that up too, had to remake a mold
« Last Edit: Wed, 09 November 2011, 10:52:47 by ishtob »

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #22 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 10:52:47 »
Ok, here's the question:

If you have the awesome key cap you just made, and the original key cap that was for the mold, how are they different, other than color? Feel, finish, weight, sound, etc. I'm trying to imagine what your finish product is like. I guess I'm asking if your eyes were closed, and you were typing on the two different keys, what difference would there be? In your opinion, is it nicer, not as nice, virtually the same? Looking for your impressions.
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Offline hazeluff

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« Reply #23 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 11:03:22 »
I just looked at the cost of resin + mould stuff. 30 GBP. It's a bit expensive to start here. = / I wont be here long so I prob won't use up all the materials. Damn, I'm so tempted to do what you're doing >< I'm so jelly.

Offline ishtob

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MYOC - Make your own caps!
« Reply #24 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 11:08:16 »
Quote from: input nirvana;448566
Ok, here's the question:

If you have the awesome key cap you just made, and the original key cap that was for the mold, how are they different, other than color? Feel, finish, weight, sound, etc. I'm trying to imagine what your finish product is like. I guess I'm asking if your eyes were closed, and you were typing on the two different keys, what difference would there be? In your opinion, is it nicer, not as nice, virtually the same? Looking for your impressions.

In terms of txture, it feels the same, as fat as feel while typing... the MYOC feels almost identical, with the exception the sound is more muted (prob due to more mass)
i tried the ripster meter thing, the activation force is still 45g (im using ergo clears). Urethane resin is lighter than ABS, but volume wise there is more plastic in the MYOC cap than the standard ABS caps


I like it more than the newer keycaps, but it is almost comparable to the vintage keycaps

Offline ishtob

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« Reply #25 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 11:09:33 »
Quote from: hazeluff;448572
I just looked at the cost of resin + mould stuff. 30 GBP. It's a bit expensive to start here. = / I wont be here long so I prob won't use up all the materials. Damn, I'm so tempted to do what you're doing >< I'm so jelly.

dang.. expensive... yea, I ebay'ed the resins, so it wasn't too bad

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #26 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 11:12:34 »
Exactly the type of feedback I was looking for, you hit the nail on the head. AND, I'm glad to hear the results...

Is it cool if I link this thread in my Split Kinesis mod article?
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Offline ishtob

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« Reply #27 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 11:25:41 »
sure thing,

I'm hoping to eventually have molds for the whole keyboard and do a full keyboard of these to see how they feel

Offline Input Nirvana

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« Reply #28 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 12:01:04 »
Thanks for posting this, and the good pics. I'll follow and will probably make a Kinesis Contoured set as part of the ongoing modding process. Key sets from Kinesis cost about $45 and are black or white with legends. This offers more options as well as perhaps an improved key feel. I'm curious if an O-ring mod is still workable with your key caps?
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Offline ishtob

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« Reply #29 on: Wed, 09 November 2011, 12:06:02 »
Quote from: input nirvana;448599
Thanks for posting this, and the good pics. I'll follow and will probably make a Kinesis Contoured set as part of the ongoing modding process. Key sets from Kinesis cost about $45 and are black or white with legends. This offers more options as well as perhaps an improved key feel. I'm curious if an O-ring mod is still workable with your key caps?

i'll go ahead and give it a try, need to find my o-rings though... i didnt really like they way they feel on the old cherry caps (i like crunchy), but i'll let you know when i find it