How Clackeys Are Made

ZBrush Screenshot

 

Design

Ideas typically start out by being sketched in my notebook. When I am happy with the overall concept I moved to ZBrush to sculpt the design. The 3D process usually starts by blocking in rough shapes and determining how well the concept will work as a keycap. Some questions I ask myself are: How well does it read from different angles? Is it too sharp? Will the details hold up? How easy can features be painted? I try to solve/answer as many of those questions before going to 3D print.

Design Prototypes

Prototype

Not all ideas are executed perfectly before test printing. Shown above is some of the other earlier iterations of the same key. I was not happy with the head size and the way the cap looked as a whole. So this went back to the ZBrush drawing board to produce the final version on the right.

 

Batch

Taking a Bath

"Mass" Produce

Keycap production begins with multiple caps being 3D Printed on a Formlabs Form 2 at 25 Micron at the same time. Sometimes it is all the same cap, or sometimes a mix of a bunch of different designs depending on the needs of the shop. After being 3D Printed, they are rinsed clean of excess resin and dried overnight so they can be primed in the morning. Some keys go through a ligth sanding after they have been cleaned to get rid of any structural support they had while printing.

Primed

Prime

Keycaps are all 3D printed clear, then they go through a cleaning and primer paint process. This gives me the option to make clear caps available, do fun transparent effects on some keys and also make them work for fully painted variations.

 

Finished Products

Final Product

Once the keycaps are primed. They either get sold as clear or primer variations which are my usual standard. Some keys get extra colors like gold or a hanp painted variant. Keys are ready to be photographed by themselves and on various Mechanical Keyboards to produce my final listing.

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