Author Topic: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case  (Read 8204 times)

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Offline Vox

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How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« on: Tue, 06 June 2017, 00:34:41 »
Hello! I want to build my very own 60% keyboard and I was thinking of having a local fabrication company with a CNC machine (they mainly advertize it for prototyping but I imagine they will do this task for me). I don't want to get a standard pok3r-esque case, what you get when searching google images for 'pok3r case'. I was looking at 'the moon custom keyboard' by @zzjayfree (how do I properly mention someone on this forum?) and I loved the style of the case. So how would I go about recreating a similar style case (of course with my own twists) in a 60% form factor? And then submit a suitable cad for the cnc machine. It seems rather hard and complicated. I have the free version of Google Sketchup and have done a few projects in it, but I can't think of a way that I know how to do a case like that in Sketchup. Would it be best to draw up a couple different angles, add some dimensions and hand them to someone else (probably someone in the cnc machine company) and pay that person to make it? I realize that I am probably approaching this the wrong way (this would be my first custom keyboard) so please tell me how I would go about this and what process I should undergo. Thanks for your time. Sorry if I posted this in the wrong subforum and gave the wrong information. I'm new here.

Offline Joey Quinn

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Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 06 June 2017, 00:59:14 »
If you're capable of designing the case yourself (or modeling the general idea) I'd say create what you want then have someone here double check the dimensions to make sure your pcb will work with the case. When designing a case I find that it helps to plan most of it out on paper before moving to a 3D space.

Would it be best to draw up a couple different angles, add some dimensions

Kind of an oversimplification but, yeah, that's the general idea.

Before you dive into this you should know that a one off case won't be cheap, the machining will cost a lot and then you need to figure out how you want it finished and anodized.
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Offline Vox

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Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 06 June 2017, 23:45:32 »
If you're capable of designing the case yourself (or modeling the general idea) I'd say create what you want then have someone here double check the dimensions to make sure your pcb will work with the case. When designing a case I find that it helps to plan most of it out on paper before moving to a 3D space.

Would it be best to draw up a couple different angles, add some dimensions

Kind of an oversimplification but, yeah, that's the general idea.

Before you dive into this you should know that a one off case won't be cheap, the machining will cost a lot and then you need to figure out how you want it finished and anodized.

Thanks for your advise. I'm working on it right now in sketchup. Question: How much depth (in mm) should I have from the top of the case to the bottom of the indent for the PCB so that I don't have a 'floating key' look. I want the switches to be covered on the sides. If that doesn't make any sense, I can try to clarify it.

Offline Vox

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Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #3 on: Wed, 07 June 2017, 00:18:03 »
after about half an hour of fiddling with the general footprint, this is what i've landed with. It'll probably be changed slightly as I add in details but what do you think of this?

170215-0

Offline Leslieann

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Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #4 on: Wed, 07 June 2017, 01:03:16 »
Companies that do this sort of thing do so on the prospect that it will lead to larger orders, not all, but most shops REALLY prefer large runs, and as such will charge you a lot and often you get stuck waiting for a slow down on high volume runs.

Where it gets really tricky though, is if you have never done one before, even if you do know CAD, getting even something this simple right the first time is slim to none. It may work, but odds of it being right are pretty slim. CAD takes time to really get dialed and even once you get good with it, all it takes is one spot where you forget your tolerances (you know the tolerances of the machine making it right? How about minimum radius?).

More than this though, just because you can design, doesn't mean it will be practical. What I mean is, you can design something and it works perfectly, but a slight change could cut the cost to manufacture it in half. And that comes from experience (unless you get lucky). In a case such as this, that could be as simple as how the screw holes are done, since this could be done in a single milling operation, or you may have to flip it over and do a second. the moment you have to flip it, your costs just went up.

While you may think, well, it's only one... but it won't be just one.
It will be $300, and if you pay someone to help design it it may only cost $200, but you will still have to pay them the $100.
Then you will have revision 2, which will be $250 in total.
Then you will want it anodized or powder coated, which will run you $80 or so unless they slip it in with another batch of similar color, but even then it will probably be $50-60.

So yes, you can make your own case and it will run you between $350 and $700 and between 3-12 months time, or you can just buy an off the shelf 60% case for $130 and be done with it. Excessive you say? Maybe, but probably not. I'm not trying to discourage you, just make you aware of the realities of small scale production. One-off's get expensive REALLY fast, particularly if you have a specific time frame you need it in.

By the way, Sketchup, is not a good way to design something for CAD.And if you are in the US, I would advise you to do everything in standard, as we have had several shops turn our work away because they didn't know how, or didn't want to mess up the conversion from metric to standard.
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Offline Vox

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 39
Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #5 on: Wed, 07 June 2017, 01:23:55 »
Companies that do this sort of thing do so on the prospect that it will lead to larger orders, not all, but most shops REALLY prefer large runs, and as such will charge you a lot and often you get stuck waiting for a slow down on high volume runs.

Where it gets really tricky though, is if you have never done one before, even if you do know CAD, getting even something this simple right the first time is slim to none. It may work, but odds of it being right are pretty slim. CAD takes time to really get dialed and even once you get good with it, all it takes is one spot where you forget your tolerances (you know the tolerances of the machine making it right? How about minimum radius?).

More than this though, just because you can design, doesn't mean it will be practical. What I mean is, you can design something and it works perfectly, but a slight change could cut the cost to manufacture it in half. And that comes from experience (unless you get lucky). In a case such as this, that could be as simple as how the screw holes are done, since this could be done in a single milling operation, or you may have to flip it over and do a second. the moment you have to flip it, your costs just went up.

While you may think, well, it's only one... but it won't be just one.
It will be $300, and if you pay someone to help design it it may only cost $200, but you will still have to pay them the $100.
Then you will have revision 2, which will be $250 in total.
Then you will want it anodized or powder coated, which will run you $80 or so unless they slip it in with another batch of similar color, but even then it will probably be $50-60.

So yes, you can make your own case and it will run you between $350 and $700 and between 3-12 months time, or you can just buy an off the shelf 60% case for $130 and be done with it. Excessive you say? Maybe, but probably not. I'm not trying to discourage you, just make you aware of the realities of small scale production. One-off's get expensive REALLY fast, particularly if you have a specific time frame you need it in.

By the way, Sketchup, is not a good way to design something for CAD.And if you are in the US, I would advise you to do everything in standard, as we have had several shops turn our work away because they didn't know how, or didn't want to mess up the conversion from metric to standard.
thanks for the input. It really does help to know the scope of my project. My budget for the case was $350 so it would cover a version 1 of the case but thats it. I'll put that project on the backburner for now and for when I am more committed to it.

Since I am probably not going to get my own case made, do you happen to know of any cases that look similar or have a similar feel as the moon case? And is a 60% and not super expensive? Where should I look for something like it? Sorry for bombarding this thread with questions, I know barely anything about keyboards. Thanks

Offline Pwner

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Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #6 on: Wed, 07 June 2017, 03:25:09 »
If you're capable of designing the case yourself (or modeling the general idea) I'd say create what you want then have someone here double check the dimensions to make sure your pcb will work with the case. When designing a case I find that it helps to plan most of it out on paper before moving to a 3D space.

Would it be best to draw up a couple different angles, add some dimensions

Kind of an oversimplification but, yeah, that's the general idea.

Before you dive into this you should know that a one off case won't be cheap, the machining will cost a lot and then you need to figure out how you want it finished and anodized.

Thanks for your advise. I'm working on it right now in sketchup. Question: How much depth (in mm) should I have from the top of the case to the bottom of the indent for the PCB so that I don't have a 'floating key' look. I want the switches to be covered on the sides. If that doesn't make any sense, I can try to clarify it.

I'm not sure what type of mount you'll be doing for your plate, either case mounted or tray style, but from the top of the case to the top of the plate I usually have about 7.5mm.  That should help you figure out the rest.
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Offline Leslieann

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Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 07 June 2017, 03:31:05 »
thanks for the input. It really does help to know the scope of my project. My budget for the case was $350 so it would cover a version 1 of the case but thats it. I'll put that project on the backburner for now and for when I am more committed to it.

Since I am probably not going to get my own case made, do you happen to know of any cases that look similar or have a similar feel as the moon case? And is a 60% and not super expensive? Where should I look for something like it? Sorry for bombarding this thread with questions, I know barely anything about keyboards. Thanks
You're welcome, sorry to be a downer.
On the other hand, at least you can be happy you weren't pricing a full size.  :eek:

Others here would be better equipped to give advice on a similar case design, I'm not really big on 60% keyboards.
You may want to consider modifying one already on the market as most are well under your budget. Start with an off-the-shelf, a Dremel, and some files and sandpaper. Send that out for anodizing and poof, you have 99% of what you want, at a fraction of the cost.
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Offline pr0ximity

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Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 07 June 2017, 04:20:29 »
Since I am probably not going to get my own case made, do you happen to know of any cases that look similar or have a similar feel as the moon case? And is a 60% and not super expensive? Where should I look for something like it? Sorry for bombarding this thread with questions, I know barely anything about keyboards. Thanks

iQunix Lambo cases are pretty popular and decently priced, might be a style you like. Your best best is probably the Classifieds here or reddit.com/r/mechmarket more likely. Amazon looks to have the full keyboard: https://www.amazon.com/iQunix-Aluminum-Mechanical-Gaming-Keyboard/dp/B06VVQDDHN/ref=pd_sbs_267_4?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B06VVQDDHN&pd_rd_r=4QW7WMQD2YXEQNXGRR54&pd_rd_w=ILZUQ&pd_rd_wg=cNOhc&psc=1&refRID=4QW7WMQD2YXEQNXGRR54

Beyond that, if you're looking to get spendy there are a decent number of 60% and 65% custom keyboard kits that are floating around or getting ready to ship. Again, Classified or mechmarket.
« Last Edit: Wed, 07 June 2017, 04:23:02 by pr0ximity »
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Offline Vox

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  • Posts: 39
Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #9 on: Wed, 07 June 2017, 22:19:25 »
If you're capable of designing the case yourself (or modeling the general idea) I'd say create what you want then have someone here double check the dimensions to make sure your pcb will work with the case. When designing a case I find that it helps to plan most of it out on paper before moving to a 3D space.

Would it be best to draw up a couple different angles, add some dimensions

Kind of an oversimplification but, yeah, that's the general idea.

Before you dive into this you should know that a one off case won't be cheap, the machining will cost a lot and then you need to figure out how you want it finished and anodized.

Thanks for your advise. I'm working on it right now in sketchup. Question: How much depth (in mm) should I have from the top of the case to the bottom of the indent for the PCB so that I don't have a 'floating key' look. I want the switches to be covered on the sides. If that doesn't make any sense, I can try to clarify it.

I'm not sure what type of mount you'll be doing for your plate, either case mounted or tray style

I'm sorry but I have no idea what plate or case mounted mean. Could you possibly give a quick explanation? Thanks

Since I am probably not going to get my own case made, do you happen to know of any cases that look similar or have a similar feel as the moon case? And is a 60% and not super expensive? Where should I look for something like it? Sorry for bombarding this thread with questions, I know barely anything about keyboards. Thanks

iQunix Lambo cases are pretty popular and decently priced, might be a style you like. Your best best is probably the Classifieds here or reddit.com/r/mechmarket more likely. Amazon looks to have the full keyboard: https://www.amazon.com/iQunix-Aluminum-Mechanical-Gaming-Keyboard/dp/B06VVQDDHN/ref=pd_sbs_267_4?_encoding=UTF8&pd_rd_i=B06VVQDDHN&pd_rd_r=4QW7WMQD2YXEQNXGRR54&pd_rd_w=ILZUQ&pd_rd_wg=cNOhc&psc=1&refRID=4QW7WMQD2YXEQNXGRR54

Beyond that, if you're looking to get spendy there are a decent number of 60% and 65% custom keyboard kits that are floating around or getting ready to ship. Again, Classified or mechmarket.
thanks for the input. It really does help to know the scope of my project. My budget for the case was $350 so it would cover a version 1 of the case but thats it. I'll put that project on the backburner for now and for when I am more committed to it.

Since I am probably not going to get my own case made, do you happen to know of any cases that look similar or have a similar feel as the moon case? And is a 60% and not super expensive? Where should I look for something like it? Sorry for bombarding this thread with questions, I know barely anything about keyboards. Thanks
You're welcome, sorry to be a downer.
On the other hand, at least you can be happy you weren't pricing a full size.  :eek:

Others here would be better equipped to give advice on a similar case design, I'm not really big on 60% keyboards.
You may want to consider modifying one already on the market as most are well under your budget. Start with an off-the-shelf, a Dremel, and some files and sandpaper. Send that out for anodizing and poof, you have 99% of what you want, at a fraction of the cost.

I just had an idea. What if I made it out of acrylic. Not as in the boring way that I've seen most people where it's a couple acrylic sheets layered.

I would have to change the shape of the case a lot but I could probably keep some of the shape of it. My concern however is how to properly glue or assemble it so that the pieces it won't fall apart due to movement. I'll try to make a quick draft of it and post it here.

Offline stiligFox

  • Posts: 34
Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #10 on: Thu, 08 June 2017, 02:51:39 »
Acrylic would work - you could do what Iím doing and use M2 screw to keep the bulk of it together and glue for the ridge layers.

You might also look into getting a piece of wood CNC milled - many colleges have the tools to do that and it should be considerably cheaper.

(I havenít researched it in great depth yet though.)

Offline Leslieann

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  • Posts: 3869
Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #11 on: Thu, 08 June 2017, 21:23:02 »
Acrylic is much easier to work with, but doesn't usually result in the same shape and certainly not the same feel. Not a bad way to start though.
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More
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More
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| PF65 3d printed 65% w/LCD and hot swap
More
Box Jades, Interchangeable trim, mini lcd, QMK, underglow, HK Gaming Thick PBT caps, O-rings, Netdot Gen10 magnetic cable, in progress link
| Magicforce 68
More
MF68 pcb, Outemu Blues, in progress
| YMDK75 Jail Housed Gateron Blues
More
J-spacers, YMDK Thick PBT, O-rings, SIP sockets
| KBT Race S L.E.
More
Ergo Clears, custom WASD caps
| Das Pro
More
Costar model with browns
| GH60
More
Cherry Blacks, custom 3d printed case
| Logitech Illumininated | IBM Model M (x2)

Offline Vox

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 39
Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #12 on: Thu, 08 June 2017, 22:48:38 »
and cheaper. I can use the extra money to get sick keycasps

Offline ReadmeDotTxt

  • Posts: 59
  • Location: USA
Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 09 June 2017, 00:49:16 »
Use fusion 360 for CAD modeling. It is free for students and "startups." You only have to pay once you make over $100k/year using their software.




Offline stiligFox

  • Posts: 34
Re: How would I get a custom 60% cnc aluminium case
« Reply #14 on: Sat, 10 June 2017, 02:22:01 »
You can also try FreeCAD - I made this over a weekend while teaching myself how to use FreeCAD for the first time ever: http://forums.turbobricks.com/showthread.php?t=324732