Yes, of course, you can. But it will pretty much depend on many aspects such as materials or the design. But can you 3D print keycaps that actually work?
If you are wondering the same question, the following writing might be what you need.
A standard keyboard will use plastic switches such as a mac keyboard or any normal PC keyboards for example.
If any part wears out or is broken, it would be more likely to be the end of that whole keyboard.
However, if you are having a mechanic keyboard for yourself, luckiness would be on your side.
You can simply find a new part and replace them such as a keycap or a stand supporter.
As you know, looking for a single desired custom keycap is hard, it can be even harder if you look at its price tag.
A set of custom keycaps on the market can cost anywhere around 30 bucks.
In the meanwhile, the cost of 3D printing keycaps is just at 50 percent of the artisans one.
Not mentioned you can print them in any form you want, the only limitation is your imagination.
So, how do 3D print keycaps? Below is a simple instruction that you will need.
On This Page
- Can You 3D Print Keycaps? – The Materials
- Can You 3D Print Keycaps? – The Possibilities
- Can You 3D Print Keycaps? – The Disadvantages
- How To Print Keycaps? – The Instruction
- The Related Questions about “Can You 3D Print Keycaps?”
- Final Thoughts
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Can You 3D Print Keycaps? – The Materials
Many manufacturers are making keyboard parts in many shapes and materials such as aluminum or ceramics, but definitely not iron!
Iron or bronze can shock you with a small amount of electricity if they meet the right condition.
Being shocked when using a mechanical keyboard is not unusual, many considered this as a special thing of mechanical keyboards.
So, what material is suitable for 3D printing keycaps?
I got myself into some homework and discussed with people who printed their custom keycaps.
And as a result, the following text will talk about the most suitable materials for you.
1. ABS Plastics:
This material is one of the most common in many printing projects for good reasons.
If you use this material for your printed caps, they would be built with sturdiness, impact-resistance.
Besides, ABS can work with the printer’s extruder quite well, which will make the printing process much easier.
The downside of using ABS plastics to print caps is they can be a bit flexible.
This is quite annoying if you use them for gaming. Also, you will need a heated bed if you want to work with the ABS.
This one has the same property as the ABS but kind of safe.
Because ABS will produce some unwanted smoke while heating.
PLA will not, sometimes you can even find a sweet smell when working.
Using PLA for your 3D printed keycaps will offer toughness and impact resistance for the caps as well.
The one thing that will hold you down in choosing PLA to work with is its needed heat.
This material will cool down very fast, so you will need a heated bed, which will cost a lot.
3. Ceramic Resins:
Buying a set of ceramic custom caps can be extremely expensive, but you can print a ceramic one now.
Using a ceramic custom cap will offer an exclusive and interesting looking and feeling.
Things you want from a mechanic keycap like sturdiness or toughness are also included.
But the making process is a complex task, you will have to study a lot for a better final result.
This material will offer strong and lightweight 3D printed keycaps with the same quality as CNC.
Plus, aluminum caps will not shock you while using them because this material is not featuring electricity exchange.
The only downside of this material is it will cost more than the others.
But at the end of the day, an aluminum printed cap is always cheaper than an artisan one.
These are some materials you should use for your printed caps.
Of course, there are many more materials that can work well.
But they can cost a bit more than buying from the store and are quite hard to find.
Some will need the very best 3D printer to make keycaps and they can be expensive.
Can You 3D Print Keycaps? – The Possibilities
I will just assume that people who want to 3D print a set of custom keycaps are mostly gamers.
Who always want to replace their boring caps with more interesting and functional caps.
1. Custom Light Show:
Remember that time you paid hundreds of dollars for a gaming keyboard with RGB lights and the caps aren’t translucent?
Now with a 3D printer, you can make a keycap that shows lights in the shape you want.
2. Unlimited Shapes:
When buying a set of caps with your wanted shapes, it can cost a lot.
But printing your custom caps will cost only half of the check and you will have every shape you want.
You can even print a Millennium Falcon as long as you can find its blueprint or you can design one.
In terms of FPS gaming, moving keys like “AWSD” are mostly used and will wear out for a while.
With 3D printed keycaps, you can use them in any way you want.
And even if they are broken, just simply print a new one.
3. The Colors:
3D printing allows you to choose every color you want.
This will help a lot in replacing a keycap with a specific color such as a Razer gaming keyboard.
Buying a replacement keycap from Razer will cost you $30 bucks, printing one will only cost you half of that.
4. Unlimited Material Choices:
Are you bored of using plastic keys that do not give a satisfying clicking sound?
Printing a keycap with aluminum or ceramic will do it.
Again with the cost, most of the metal caps on the market will cost somewhere around $50 bucks.
Printing one will only cost you $20 for good reasons.
You won’t have to pay extra for taxes, designing, or marketing costs yet still have the 8/10 overall quality.
However, the quality will depend on your printer, blueprint, and your skills.
This means you will want to do some homework for a better result.
Can You 3D Print Keycaps? – The Disadvantages
Just like everything on the planet, printing your custom keycaps will also have some downsides.
So before making one, you should take a quick look at some things that will hold you down. Shall we?
1. The Quality:
Just like printing your personal Legos brick, a printed keycap will not have the same quality as the manufactured ones.
Even how good the printed version is, it’ll kind of be less solid when being compared to the artisan version.
That was about using plastic materials such as ABS or PLA, how about metallic materials like aluminum?
It will not have a better overall quality than an artisan one at all.
Some keycap businesses forged the caps with proper techniques, all we do is just print and sand. So, you already know how it ends.
2. Less Collectible Value:
There are many people collecting limited edition keycaps as a hobby, like collecting arts or sneakers.
For them, having just a limited edition keycap with an affordable price is the most enjoyable part of the game.
Since 3D printing artisan keycaps are not as rare as they used to be, their value will also decrease.
This will take away the “limited edition feel”.
Remember when you finally have that rare car and then turns out they are everywhere on the streets in GTA?
It is just like that.
Unless you find super rare materials and somehow turn them into a printable material, then the feeling will be back.
3. Less Artistic:
If you’re going to buy an artisan cap, it would be filled with arts from the top to the bottom.
You will find the exact design and color the artist put into it, and it is pretty much hand-made.
Plus, they can have multiple colors on a single surface, which is difficult (not impossible) to make with 3D printers.
How To Print Keycaps? – The Instruction
Since we have learned a bit of information about 3D printing keycaps, let’s leave the stage for the printing process.
You just simply search “3d printed keycaps download” if you’re using a common mechanical keyboard such as Razer Blackwidows keyboards.
Otherwise, you will have to design a cap for yourself or edit the dimension of the downloaded blueprints you got.
So, straight into the instruction, I will just assume that you are using reins for goods.
Like being said, all keyboards and their caps are different, you will need to measure the caps correctly.
Make sure that the dimension is correct by millimeters.
You don’t want to finish the printing process and find out the fit is wrong.
2. Designing Job:
People on the subreddit called “3d printed keycaps download” advised that you should edit the blueprints you found online.
For easier purposes of course, or you can design one for your custom keys.
3. Choosing Materials:
This part is one of the most interesting parts of the game.
The final result will most likely depend on the material you choose.
Just make sure that the material is not electricity exchange and will not shock you while using it.
Materials such as iron or bronze are an absolute no-go.
You can choose them if you like the feeling of being shocked, it’s like keeping you interested in the game!
4. The Printing Process:
At this time, you will want to make sure that the printing bed is clean.
You don’t want the cap to slip away when printing and the nozzle to start splitting around.
One more thing, make sure that the material will not run out in the middle of the printing process.
You can pass this if your printer is featuring sensors that stop extruding when the materials run out.
You will want to sand the surface of the printed keycap for the best feeling when using it.
Or you can leave them rough if you want it to be that way, it is all up to you.
You will need to dip them into alcoholic liquids such as acetones if you are using ABS or PLA.
There you go, making your personal set of custom keycaps is just that simple.
If you are looking for advanced techniques, you might want to do more research and experiments.
This will depend on your love of custom caps, and as they all say – possibilities are endless.
The Related Questions about “Can You 3D Print Keycaps?”
1. Can You Sell Your 3D Printed Keycaps?
Yes, you can. Many people out there are selling their 3D printed custom caps for years with no legal problems looking for them.
Yet, make sure that your products are not copyrighted because there are companies that will sue you for that.
Especially big companies, they will sue you not for money, but for fame and they will love to do it.
2. Where Can I Find Blueprints For My Project?
There are many sites that will allow you to download blueprints for free.
Or you can look it up on Reddit.com, they have a big community and the users are super friendly.
All you have to do is just ask them and they will answer whether they know the answers or not!
3. How To Dye Colors On A Keycap After Printing?
Here is a super simple guide.
First, you will want to cover the letter or number/symbol if you don’t want to paint them.
Secondly, dip the caps into the paint, let them dry for a couple of minutes.
After they are completely dried, polish them with a clear finish.
Repeat this step two or three times for a better result and they will be ready to be used.
4. Do I Need A 3D printed Keycap Puller?
Yes, you will need them.
Mechanical switches are super hard to pull out and you don’t want to misplace or damage the caps when pulling them out.
If the caps get damaged when being pulled out, you will have to print a new one.
This will cost lots of time for nothing obviously.
5. Do I Need The Best 3D Printer For Keycaps Printing?
Not exactly, if your purpose is just printing caps, a mid-tier printer would do just fine.
But you can always get a high-end printer if you can afford it without breaking the bank.
The better the printer is, the better the final result will be.
In a simple way of speaking, 3D printed keycaps have their place on the market.
As long as they are not copyrighted, their path will not cross the artisan’s path.
For people who do not want to pay over the head for artisan caps, printing one will do just fine.
So, can you 3D print keycaps now?