If you’re a PC gamer, chances are you’ve spent some time playing games like World of Warcraft and other similar titles. The problem, however, is that not everyone has access to a computer with suitable graphics cards and operating systems for playing these types of games. This is where gaming keyboards come in. If you spend most of your time typing on a standard QWERTY keyboard to enter words, codes, and other text-based information into those games then it makes sense to get yourself a gaming keyboard. Unfortunately, however, many non-gaming keyboards have been marketed as being “gaming-friendly” due to their mechanical switches and aesthetics which have been influenced by video games and popular science fiction franchises like Steampunk. Instead of spending money on an off-brand version from Amazon or elsewhere, if you have access to a 3D printer then it’s much more economical and convenient to print out your own aftermarket gaming keyboard that looks just like the original but with upgraded switches, LEDs, keycaps, etc…
Printing Instructions: How To Make A Steampunk Keyboard
Print out the 4 keycaps and the bottom plate. Print the rest of the parts on their own layers.
Print in ABS or PLA at a .2mm layer height with a .4mm nozzle. Use a raft and make sure to have support material enabled.
Use an infill of 20 percent for all parts except for the keycaps, which should have an infill of 30 percent.
Leave PLA cooling for about ten minutes then start printing after it’s reached room temperature.
After printing, use acetone or isopropyl alcohol to dissolve any remaining support material on the model before you start assembly.
To assemble, glue all four keycaps onto one set of two keycap stems and insert those into the top plate (with keycaps facing down). The bottom plate will act as a spacer between them so they can’t snap together. Etc…
What You’ll Need
– 3D printer
– Custom keycaps in your desired colors
– A switch of your preferred color
– LED strip or LEDs (optional)
– A keyboard: any standard mechanical PC keyboard with a PS/2 connection will work, but if you want to get an upgrade then just check out this guide for finding the right one.
Setting Up Your Printer
With a 3D printer, you can make your own aftermarket gaming keyboard in just a few hours. You’ll need an STL file which is a file that allows your computer to create the shape of whatever you’re printing out. This file will be saved on the computer and you’ll be able to send it as an email attachment or upload it online.
First, download the correct STL files for your keyboard from this website: http://www.thingiverse.com/search?q=keyboard+printable
Then, print out your new keycap sets and switch plate from whichever design you want but pay attention to the size because they will vary from keyboard to keyboard.
Next, use a dremmel tool to cut out all of the keys that are printed on a sheet of foam core mounted on cardboard or paper mache. Again, pay attention to the size because this will vary from keyboard to keyboard as well so there’s no point in cutting out too many keys if they won’t fit into your switch plate. Then re-assemble them with hot glue or silicone adhesive depending on what type of material you’re using and assemble everything together!
The first thing you will want to do is print out your keycaps in ABS plastic. These keycaps are the pieces of plastic that make up the letters on your keyboard. Depending on how detailed you want your 3D print to be, this can take anywhere from a few hours to a few weeks depending on your printer and desired print quality.
Next, download the source files for the switch plate template and print that as well. If you have access to a laser cutter or CNC machine, then you can skip this step and use one of those machines instead.
Once you have both printed materials, it’s time to start assembling! The fun part is coming up next: making sure everything fits properly. You will need a soldering iron and desoldering braid plus some patience if you don’t have any experience soldering.
The last thing you should do before putting everything together is making sure all of the LEDs are working properly by checking with an oscilloscope or voltmeter.
It’s finally time for assembly! Start by placing the LED board into position between the switches so that they align with each other and attach them together using some hot glue or cable ties. Then place the keycap onto each switch so that they overlap just like normal QWERTY keys would with all of the corresponding bolts facing away from each other into empty spaces on their respective sides. This way, when it comes time to put in the ribbon cable later on,
Final Tips and Warnings
Make sure to print your keyboard in a material that will last, such as ABS plastic. The keycaps should also be printed in the same material so they don’t get destroyed easily.
Don’t go overboard with the LEDs, because they can potentially interfere with other components of your computer. If you have a laptop or desktop computer, check to see if there are any conflicting LEDs on the keyboard before printing them out.
While it might be tempting to spend more money on a fancy product with lights and mechanical switches, you may find yourself spending more time maintaining it than actually playing games. That is why 3D printing your own gaming keyboard is such an economical choice that can save you lots of time and money in the long run.