Author Topic: Punch engraving keycaps  (Read 4859 times)

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Offline upsampled

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Punch engraving keycaps
« on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 09:42:56 »
Im am trying to find economic ways to print symbols onto blank keycaps myself. It seems like the best way to do it is engrave the symbols then fill it with paint. The mini CNC machines do a pretty good job engraving, but are slow.

I was wondering if anyone has tried to use a metal punch for lettering to engrave the symbol. I imagine you would need to also heat the steel stamp, but given plastics properties this should be doable right?




Offline rowdy

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Re: Punch engraving keycaps
« Reply #1 on: Sun, 23 June 2019, 22:15:34 »
Welcome to Geekhack!

Most keycaps are delicate little plastic things, whatever approach you use you'd have to be careful not to shatter them.

I have some that are (probably) laser engraved - a CNC machine would probably do a similar job, but you'd have to run it at relatively low speed to avoid melting the keycap.
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Offline Findecanor

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Re: Punch engraving keycaps
« Reply #2 on: Mon, 24 June 2019, 04:12:27 »
I would print water-transfer decals, and apply to the front of the keycap. Because I would never touch that surface, I would not have to care about wear.
It could be fiddly to apply each decal, but it would be inexpensive. I would use additional space on the paper for printing symbols multiple times so that I would have spares of a symbol in case I would mess it up.
Unfortunately, that would not work well with all types of keycaps (such as EnjoyPBT) that don't have perfectly smooth sides.

That printing you saw in the video, I would call "laser-etching".
Most makerspaces don't permit ABS plastic in their laser-cutter/engraver. ABS melts easier than it etches and the fumes contain cyanide, which is extremely toxic. You would need industrial-grade ventilation. Both PBT and ABS keycaps are laser-etched and laser-engraved industrially. However, from observing people use the laser-cutter at my local makerspace, I know there could be a lot of trial and error before you would find useful settings.
« Last Edit: Mon, 24 June 2019, 04:39:53 by Findecanor »
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Offline swedishpiehole

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Re: Punch engraving keycaps
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 28 June 2019, 13:14:52 »
I would print water-transfer decals, and apply to the front of the keycap. Because I would never touch that surface, I would not have to care about wear.
It could be fiddly to apply each decal, but it would be inexpensive. I would use additional space on the paper for printing symbols multiple times so that I would have spares of a symbol in case I would mess it up.
Unfortunately, that would not work well with all types of keycaps (such as EnjoyPBT) that don't have perfectly smooth sides.

You're right about the problem with anything but smooth plasticóI've experimented with waterslide decals on keycaps and found that if the keycap has any texture to it, the decal won't stick. However, it's a simple to fix. Just paint a thin layer of clear top coat nail polish first and let it dry completely. Then the waterslide will stick very well. Add a thin layer of matte varnish over the top for good measure.