3D Printing

FDM vs SLA

These are rather small objects with some really fine detail, so it might not look the best on an FDM 3D printer - So we think this is a good job for a resin based SLA machine.

With that said, the keycaps can print just fine on FDM printers. Translucent PLA colors aren't completely see through. As layers get stacked on top of each other, objects will start to look more opaque . We definitely recommend using SLA for higher quality prints, especially if you want the see through look.

adaKey.stl

FnSkull.stl

comKey.stl

blankKey.stl

SLA:
25 microns:
2.5 exposure time

50 microns:
3.5 exposure time

 

FDM:
@235 PLA
15% Infill
0.15 Layer Height
2 Shells
60mm/s Print Speed
120mm/s Travel Speed

SLA:

25 mirons: 130 mins
50 microns: 40 mins

 

FDM:

20 mins

Layout orientation: SLA

SLA printers mostly print upside down, so we'll need to have supports structures under the keycap stem. We can then lay it on the bed with the flat side of the keycap. 

To orient the part and add support structures we’re using MeshMixer.

Laying it flat on the side that has a decent amount of surface area, this will be the layer that sticks to the bed.

Meshmixer Support Settings

The default settings for support structures tend to generate non manifold geometry on very small parts. So we lowered the “Tip Height” option down to around 1.4mm - 0.70mm. This will avoid generating any weird geometry when creating the supports.

We’ll also drop the Tip Diameter to .3mm - .8mm so that it’s not so thick.

Now when we create supports they come out clean. A few more on the side of the connector should be enough for it to print properly.

Once thats looking good we’ll export the STL and upload to the printer.

Layout orientation: FDM

For FDM printers, you'll want to layout the keycaps with the top of the key facing upward. Fans on most printers should have enough cooling power to bridge the top wall without any problems.

Supports 

You'll want to add custom supports for the kepcap stem when using FDM printers. Use the custom support structures found in the 123D design file or import the stemSupport.stl file. You can also build your own by projecting the sketch profile of the connector geometry.

This guide was first published on Apr 06, 2015. It was last updated on Apr 06, 2015. This page (3D Printing) was last updated on May 17, 2019.