Author Topic: Laser engraving legends onto blank keys  (Read 1276 times)

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Offline THX1138b

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Laser engraving legends onto blank keys
« on: Sat, 20 October 2018, 17:14:42 »
I bought some blank key caps with the intention of using a laser cutter/engraver at my local maker space to add my own legends. My intention is to fill the engraved recess with white enamel paint using a pin or needle to transfer the paint. The laser engraver does a good job but it is difficult to align such that the legend will be put into the centre of the key. Each time a different legend is engraved, the alignment of the x-axis needs to be redone if the legend is wider or narrower than the one just completed.

In the image below you can see that I did too many passes and the laser went all the way through one of the keys in part of the legend. The correct number of passes might be something like 25. It's better to do multiple passes rather than one single brutal pass to prevent the surrounding plastic from melting. In one of the keys there is masking tape in the legend which I might be able to remove using a toothbrush. I used masking tape because without it, some white residue adheres to the surface of the key and it looks a mess.


Offline kiwi99

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Re: Laser engraving legends onto blank keys
« Reply #1 on: Sat, 20 October 2018, 19:18:12 »
I bought some blank key caps with the intention of using a laser cutter/engraver at my local maker space to add my own legends. My intention is to fill the engraved recess with white enamel paint using a pin or needle to transfer the paint. The laser engraver does a good job but it is difficult to align such that the legend will be put into the centre of the key. Each time a different legend is engraved, the alignment of the x-axis needs to be redone if the legend is wider or narrower than the one just completed.

In the image below you can see that I did too many passes and the laser went all the way through one of the keys in part of the legend. The correct number of passes might be something like 25. It's better to do multiple passes rather than one single brutal pass to prevent the surrounding plastic from melting. In one of the keys there is masking tape in the legend which I might be able to remove using a toothbrush. I used masking tape because without it, some white residue adheres to the surface of the key and it looks a mess.

Show Image


Cool to see someone doing this, I was wondering why I havent seen anyone try it yet.

Did you use pbt or abs keys? have you thought about using a monospace font since they should be the same width?

I thought it would be cool to try engraving one of those abs keys that are just a coating over a white/clear cap (what they use on oem boards for shinethrough)

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Re: Laser engraving legends onto blank keys
« Reply #2 on: Sat, 20 October 2018, 19:41:05 »
Not all makespaces allow the laser-cutter/engraver be used on ABS.

WASD keyboards don't any more, but they did once offer laser-engraved keys, and I have some: those are too melty to fill easily: there is a ridge around each depression where the paint wants to gather on the other side. Maybe people remember these and expect all laser-engraved keys to be that bad.
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