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geekhack Community => Keyboard Keycaps => Topic started by: nitwimp on Mon, 13 June 2022, 00:36:08

Title: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: nitwimp on Mon, 13 June 2022, 00:36:08
Hello everybody, this post is going to be about the process i worked through to mill out some metal keycaps. Writing and organized documentation are not my strong suit - sorry if some of this is overly summarized

I am a machinist with a small shop, attended school for maching/drafting and then worked as a manual machinist afterwards. Self taught mostly about CNC/CAD/CAM - at first it was overwhelming but i've learned alot since i started :) - with that brief background about myself out of the way, lets get into it

First I downloaded pre modeled caps (I used hineybush's work, would recommend 10/10 design)

I had to modify them a little bit to make them work for me and my approach to milling them
Started with this
(https://i.imgur.com/1hgaZTu.jpg)
Turned it into this
(https://i.imgur.com/k6HuXuL.jpg)
I made the stem like that for tool clearance reasons

Heres a picture of op1 on the mill - cutting the bottoms of the caps/stems
(https://i.imgur.com/6S2irFt.jpg?1)

I had to do the bottom side first ( honestly thats how i've done 90% of parts on my mill ) because i thread the center of the stem with m3 thread to aid in holding down the cap for the second operation

Here is the fixture i came up with, it took a couple attempts but i now have a design that i can easily scale up or down if i want to make more fixtures
(https://i.imgur.com/kiUXmcn.jpg)
(https://i.imgur.com/jONI7CH.jpg)
(https://i.imgur.com/PY5UUDC.jpg)


Now that operation 1 is complete and we have made our fixture, we can attach our half completed workpiece to it and begin operation 2
(https://i.imgur.com/VLAdgA0.jpg)

heres a small snippet of tool pathing from op2
(https://i.imgur.com/rZwKIiu.jpg)

Now that we have finished milling its time to pull the caps out and give them a quick rinse - heres where we are
(https://i.imgur.com/VcKP6ih.jpg)

Heres what the underside looks like fresh off the mill
(https://i.imgur.com/lw7wiRg.jpg?1)

Fit check
(https://i.imgur.com/lSpCbNN.jpg)
The caps feel good and not too heavy for stock mx brown switches. Alum would be more ideal for switches with a similar spring weight to mx browns - but for an escape key, its great
So far so good, now im starting to get excited about my progress

Now its time to laser engrave the caps and then lightly sandblast them for powdercoat prep (I used cerakote)

Now its time to finish the caps - I bought a cheap airbrush off of amazon, some cerakote online and a cheap oven from walmart to powder coat them at home
(https://i.imgur.com/C41HOyS.jpg)

I attached long threaded rod to the tapped stem i used for fixturing (so i have something to hold onto while painting it)
(https://i.imgur.com/DdUM51i.jpg)

If you can visualize with me - After i spray the lollypop cap i place it into a fixture so the wet cerakote is safe for placing/cooking in the oven
(https://i.imgur.com/Irw01Pn.jpg)

After many attempts I finally got results I was happy with
(https://i.imgur.com/0i9Am9D.jpg)
(https://i.imgur.com/o9DnaFI.jpg)
(https://i.imgur.com/h9rIxAB.jpg)
(https://i.imgur.com/VMRRAK3.jpg)

Heres a example of how the cap sits compared to plastic cherry caps
(https://i.imgur.com/Jyf6oxs.jpg)

And thats really about it, please feel free to ask any questions you might have - I hope my post is easy to follow, thanks!!!

imgur dump: https://imgur.com/a/APvk55s










 





Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: phinix on Mon, 13 June 2022, 04:56:40
Niiice:)
Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: suicidal_orange on Mon, 13 June 2022, 05:14:31
Impressive!  The threaded stem for clamping is a great idea.  Is there a polishing step or is there a "shiny bronze" Cerakote?

Out of interest why brass not aluminium as it's lighter and cheaper?
Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: nitwimp on Mon, 13 June 2022, 11:23:59
Impressive!  The threaded stem for clamping is a great idea.  Is there a polishing step or is there a "shiny bronze" Cerakote?

Out of interest why brass not aluminium as it's lighter and cheaper?

The ones with exposed metal are polished - I dont think there is a Cerakote thaaattt shiny.
(https://i.imgur.com/rZEe2bc.jpg)

Yeah aluminum is cheaper and lighter but i had some brass left over from some keeb case weights
Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: Tha_Pig on Sat, 30 July 2022, 16:34:54
That's some impressive work there!   :thumb:
I have two questions, could this be done with aluminum? (I see it's already been asked)
And, could the letters and numbers be engraved on the surface of the key?


Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: NamesReed on Fri, 05 August 2022, 14:05:59
Maybe I missed it in the post, but any idea what they weigh?

Looks great!
Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: daviddgm on Tue, 09 August 2022, 17:32:03
Wow... great!
Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: JP911 on Wed, 10 August 2022, 13:27:37
Dude thats awesome.

Would be cool to play around with the weight of the switches. I kind of want one for my full brass case lol.
Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: th3_outs1d3r on Tue, 23 August 2022, 22:43:36
looks really sweet dude. What is the weight like?
Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: 1pctipaday on Wed, 24 August 2022, 07:10:49
I would buy them all 😍
Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: upscalevalley on Mon, 29 August 2022, 03:18:42
Impressive. Seems you have done lots of hard work getting there. Keep it up.
Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: crookey on Sun, 04 September 2022, 07:31:25
It's a really, really cool artisan keycap. The way make a metal artisan keycap using a machine always feels interesting and cool.
Title: Re: I made a brass artisan - thoughts?
Post by: noisyturtle on Sat, 24 September 2022, 16:51:22
Looks great, nice work!