[COMPLETED] Laser Cut Prototyping mini-GB

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

06 Jul 2013, 12:55

All Orders Paid! Plates are in production

Final Orders

Fixed cost € 111.11

mtl
Layout: 1
Confirmed: YES
Paid: YES

Matt3o
Layout: 2
Confirmed: YES
Paid: YES

Muirium
Layout: 3
Confirmed: YES
Paid: YES

Pasph
Layout: 4
Confirmed: YES
Paid: YES

Zifle
Layout: 5
Confirmed: YES
Paid: YES

Broadmonkey
Layout: 6
Confirmed: YES
Paid: YES

----------------------------

Following my step by step guides I'm here to offer you the chance to laser cut your plate or complete case in Aluminum and/or Stainless Steel.

Please read carefully
  • This is NOT a Group Buy for a few plate designs that have to reach a MOQ. We do not have fixed layouts, you can laser cut your very own design. For this reason your plate won't be cheap, but it might be your only chance to have your custom design that nobody else would ever use.
  • The trick to spare some euros is to fill a whole sheet of Alu and Steel. One sheet is 3000x1500, the better we fit it, the lower the cost for everybody. The thicknesses we are going to have are the followings:
    • Aluminum 1.5mm (mainly for plates)
    • Aluminum 3mm (for the sides)
    • Steel 1.5mm (for the case bottom and plates)
    • Steel 3mm (ONLY if there's enough request for it)
  • How to choose the material. Aluminum is very light. Steel is too hard to be used as a plate (in my very humble opinion but YMMV), my suggestion would be to build the plate and the sides in aluminum and the bottom of the case in steel to add weight.
  • If you want you can have the sides laser cut in acrylic, but you have to take care of it by yourself. This GB is not for acrylic.
  • Metal is untreated. It's not anodized nor treated in any way. Bare, raw, metal. See how it looks here and here.
  • Believe it or not, aluminum costs almost twice as steel.
  • You can laser cut anything, not just case/plates (fan grills? door bell frames? chastity belts?)
Alert! This GB is not for boobies!
Designing a new plate/case is no easy task. Each design would need to be tested and prototyped. Making few small mistakes is very easy and you might end up with an expensive piece of useless metal. You are responsible for your own design. I take no responsibility on your design even if I help you with the CAD file.

How to place an order
The Brownfox is a keyboard that I already prototyped and it turned out pretty well. So small changes to that layout should put you in a safe spot. Here enclosed you'll find the DWG for that keyboard. You can use it as a starting point.

Note that the keyboard has 6u spacebar with not standard mounting points and distance between keys is 19mm (instead of the suggested 19.05mm because in my experience it doesn't make any difference).

I'm also going to post the layout for an ALPS based plate.

Post your ideas/requests or a mock up of the keyboard you want in this thread and I'll try to help you out refining your design. I also hope that other keyboard gurus might chime in and help me with tutoring. Once your design is finalized it will be made public and others may use it.

All DWG must be in MM, I don't want to see nonsensical inches :P

If we have few participants and we do not fill the sheets I might cancel the GB.

How much is it going to cost?
The cost of your keyboard varies depending on material and number of switch holes. Note that pure square holes are cheaper than the ones with dents for easy access to the springs. For this reason I'm going to make a formula to calculate costs based on various parameters.

Once all layouts are finalized I'll send a quote request. The cost for a full case might go from €50 to €150 for a sub TKL + shipping. Tracked shipping is: €12 for 500gr. €17 for 1kg. €22 for 2kg. To give you an idea, a 100% steel case weights about 1kg. Do not place your order if you are not prepared to pay that much.

Again, this GB is for prototyping and/or to have your very personal design in a reasonably short time. If you want it cheap you should look for the GH60 or wait for 7bit HyperMicro.

Deadline
August is not a good moment to place orders. If we can have this sorted out quickly I'll try to send the quote request in 10 days from now and we should have the plates ready in another 10 days. If we go too deep into August we will probably have to wait September.

Have fun prototyping!
Attachments
final.dwg.zip
(123.8 KiB) Downloaded 469 times
Last edited by matt3o on 24 Nov 2013, 18:04, edited 21 times in total.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

06 Jul 2013, 15:01

At last, the time has come!

My layout is all done. You even laid out my plate for me already:
Image
I'd like an aluminium plate, as I trust your advice on its superior feel to steel. But the rest of the body is a different story.

You mentioned mirror finish steel before this thread. Is that still an option? If yes, I want as much of my keyboard to be made from it as possible! Including a trim layer above the plate for the flashiest keyboard I can imagine; with appropriate tweaks to the rest of the design so it can fit. If no, then I'm still fine with matte, brushed steel. I'd prefer it for its higher weight, but if you need me to stretch to fill the aluminium sheet I can take aluminium sides instead.

(Would now be a good time to experiment with a gentle wedge shape case, I wonder? The Model F's slant suits me very nicely. No worries if you need to say "NO!!!", I'm thinking out loud again…)

This is going to be a great project for everyone with creative layout ideas and a love for metal keyboards. Thanks for making it happen, Matt!

User avatar
dirge

06 Jul 2013, 15:08

Yes I'm in for two!

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

06 Jul 2013, 15:34

Muirium wrote:I'd like an aluminium plate, as I trust your advice on its superior feel to steel. But the rest of the body is a different story.

You mentioned mirror finish steel before this thread. Is that still an option? If yes, I want as much of my keyboard to be made from it as possible!
You'll see just the laser cut section on the sides, so you wouldn't have the mirror effect. Only the top of the sheet has mirror surface. The sides should be made of plain steel anyway. The only reason to make the sides out of steel is to make the keyboard heavier, but the 1.5mm steel bottom is pretty heavy by itself (approx 380gr).

There's also another thing. Aluminum is more "workable", it's very easy to file out 1mm to fit the USB port for example. If you need to file even 1mm of steel... good luck with that :)
Muirium wrote:I'd prefer it for its higher weight, but if you need me to stretch to fill the aluminium sheet I can take aluminium sides instead.
Fortunately steel is cheaper, if you are ready to pay for your piece of mirror steel, sure, you can have it :) Please consider that I have to redesign the case (basically make it 2 mm bigger in both directions) if you want the top frame. This might introduce errors. I'll soon post the final design for your case, a good way to test it would be to print the DWG and home cut it in cardboard.
Muirium wrote:(Would now be a good time to experiment with a gentle wedge shape case
How would you do that with laser cut layers?

User avatar
Vierax

06 Jul 2013, 15:54

All of your work is very interesting, I'm making my own and I just start cutting the plate right after the case so this GB is a little bit too late for me, maybe another round. :)

I read that DWG seems not to be a reliable file format because it depends on the software used to create it and the result may be wrong (as a VHS read on another tape recorder… good ol' times)
I'm concern about compatibilities so what are the good softwares and the bad ones ? I saw LibreCad in my Debian repository, is it the best open-sourced one ?

SVG is powerful but according to my experiments Inkscape isn't reliable too because when you tell it 5m long, for example, it set 5.001 or 4.999 meters. This can be seen and corrected with opening the SVG file in a text editor.
There's also another thing. Aluminum is more "workable", it's very easy to file out 1mm to fit the USB port for example. If you need to file even 1mm of steel... good luck with that
But cutting steel is more pretty (sparlets :D) and less loud (alu seems to cry when cutting, drilling, milling)

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

06 Jul 2013, 15:58

Vierax wrote:I read that DWG seems not to be a reliable file format because it depends on the software used to create it and the result may be wrong (as a VHS read on another tape recorder… good ol' times)
I'm concern about compatibilities so what are the good softwares and the bad ones ? I saw LibreCad in my Debian repository, is it the best open-sourced one ?
I work in DraftSight. The service I use seems to like it. DWG seems reliable enough.

Share your custom keyboard experience in the workshop :)

User avatar
Muirium
µ

06 Jul 2013, 16:25

matt3o wrote:You'll see just the laser cut section on the sides, so you wouldn't have the mirror effect. Only the top of the sheet has mirror surface. The sides should be made of plain steel anyway. The only reason to make the sides out of steel is to make the keyboard heavier, but the 1.5mm steel bottom is pretty heavy by itself (approx 380gr).

There's also another thing. Aluminum is more "workable", it's very easy to file out 1mm to fit the USB port for example. If you need to file even 1mm of steel... good luck with that :)
Okay. Could we see Steely and Brownfox sitting side by side, and, if it doesn't upset them, figures for the weight of each?
matt3o wrote:Fortunately steel is cheaper, if you are ready to pay for your piece of mirror steel, sure, you can have it :) Please consider that I have to redesign the case (basically make it 2 mm bigger in both directions) if you want the top frame. This might introduce errors. I'll soon post the final design for your case, a good way to test it would be to print the DWG and home cut it in cardboard.
Cool! I'll get my scissors out. How much is the mirror steel likely to be (very roughly) if no one else joins me on using it? And, if I go that way, could I get a second plate cut from mirror steel itself and a mirror steel base for a little extra? (The sheet is the main expense, didn't you say, and the subsequent lasering is less pricey?)
matt3o wrote:
Muirium wrote:(Would now be a good time to experiment with a gentle wedge shape case
How would you do that with laser cut layers?
D'oh!

User avatar
Acanthophis

06 Jul 2013, 16:44

Oh my...

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

06 Jul 2013, 16:45

Muirium wrote:Okay. Could we see Steely and Brownfox sitting side by side, and, if it doesn't upset them, figures for the weight of each?
Sorry, the Steely has been predated of most of its parts in favor of the Brownfox.

The Brownfox weights approx 500gr. The browfox with steel bottom would weight 800gr I guess.

The Steely weights approx 1250gr.

Steel sides are fine if you want a heavier keyboard, just be sure to have the tools to work steel.
Muirium wrote:How much is the mirror steel likely to be (very roughly) if no one else joins me on using it? And, if I go that way, could I get a second plate cut from mirror steel itself and a mirror steel base for a little extra? (The sheet is the main expense, didn't you say, and the subsequent lasering is less pricey?)
Never had mirror steel before. I'd say €20-30 for just one frame. The frame would be 3mm thick probably. The case bottom and plate are 1.5mm, so you'd need another sheet for them.

They work more on steel than alu, so it's more likely that they have steel leftovers, but I don't know about mirror steel. It's surely more expensive than standard steel, I don't know to which extent though.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

06 Jul 2013, 17:13

matt3o wrote:The Steely weights approx 1250gr.
Oh man do I like the sound of that!
matt3o wrote:Steel sides are fine if you want a heavier keyboard, just be sure to have the tools to work steel.
And there lies the problem.
matt3o wrote:
Muirium wrote:How much is the mirror steel likely to be (very roughly) if no one else joins me on using it? And, if I go that way, could I get a second plate cut from mirror steel itself and a mirror steel base for a little extra? (The sheet is the main expense, didn't you say, and the subsequent lasering is less pricey?)
Never had mirror steel before. I'd say €20-30 for just one frame. The frame would be 3mm thick probably. The case bottom and plate are 1.5mm, so you'd need another sheet for them.

They work more on steel than alu, so it's more likely that they have steel leftovers, but I don't know about mirror steel. It's surely more expensive than standard steel, I don't know to which extent though.
Here's a thought: 3mm thick mirror steel case bottom? Maybe the extra weight would let me get away with aluminium sides. I'd hate to make a mess of the USB port.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

06 Jul 2013, 18:11

Muirium wrote:Here's a thought: 3mm thick mirror steel case bottom? Maybe the extra weight would let me get away with aluminium sides. I'd hate to make a mess of the USB port.
I wouldn't advice that... but technically speaking nothing stops you.

Just out of curiosity, why a mirror bottom? You can't really see it.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

06 Jul 2013, 18:35

Two things:
  • You can see it, when you pick it up! I move keyboards around quite a bit, even heavy ones for some reason.
  • If I'm getting shiny lasered already, I ought to find good uses for it.
How do you reckon a shiny / aluminium / shiny sandwich would feel to type on? (Steel plate and base, all aluminium for the rest.) Perceptibly different to Steely? (RIP.)

I wouldn't expect so, as flex is what aluminium provides over steel, rather than compression. But I might just be up for it anyway.

User avatar
Broadmonkey
Fancy Rank

06 Jul 2013, 18:42

I'm in for an alu plate and bottom in steel. I will see about the layout when I get home.
Regarding the whole mirror finish, why not polish the plate mirror blank yourself? I have watched a helluva lot of case mods, and I don't think I have ever seen anyone get a finished mirror blank piece straight from the shop.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

06 Jul 2013, 18:47

Muirium wrote:Two things:
  • You can see it, when you pick it up! I move keyboards around quite a bit, even heavy ones for some reason.
  • If I'm getting shiny lasered already, I ought to find good uses for it.
How do you reckon a shiny / aluminium / shiny sandwich would feel to type on? (Steel plate and base, all aluminium for the rest.) Perceptibly different to Steely? (RIP.)

I wouldn't expect so, as flex is what aluminium provides over steel, rather than compression. But I might just be up for it anyway.
To make Steely easier on the fingers I tried to add a rubber layer to the sandwich. Well, nothing changed. Steel is bloody stiff. Nothing you can do about it. If feels solid, it looks solid and it's definitely fancier but aluminum is so much better to type on.

will this be your daily driver? if so, use alu. Is this just a very nice toy/experiment you might use once in a while to awe family and friends? Use steel.
Broadmonkey wrote:I'm in for an alu plate and bottom in steel. I will see about the layout when I get home.
Regarding the whole mirror finish, why not polish the plate mirror blank yourself? I have watched a helluva lot of case mods, and I don't think I have ever seen anyone get a finished mirror blank piece straight from the shop.
No idea how to do that, but if feasible that would be great.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

06 Jul 2013, 18:52

That's the thing: I want every keyboard to be up to the task of being my primary, one-true board. Let's see if the extra deck of trim idea is feasible. Because a solid 60%'s worth of keys is going on the top anyway, and will obscure all but the edge of steel.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

06 Jul 2013, 19:00

Muirium wrote:That's the thing: I want every keyboard to be up to the task of being my primary, one-true board. Let's see if the extra deck of trim idea is feasible. Because a solid 60%'s worth of keys is going on the top anyway, and will obscure all but the edge of steel.
I like your attitude.

do you have a set of MX caps and switches? if you want I can send you the Steely plate to test it. Or —as I said elsewhere— if you want to visit sunny Italy, I'll give you an insight into my lab :)

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Muirium
µ

06 Jul 2013, 19:15

Ah, if only I could, Matt! Pretty damn tied down at the moment though, grumble.

I have some delightfully heavy yellowed Wyse caps, but the switches are all still in the keyboard. (Unsure whether I should harvest them or pass the free Wyse on to the museum.) Until 7bit's greens ship (a month?) the only loose Cherries I have are the six Mr. Interface sent me in his sample kit, all different colours too! But I'm up to trying it out in hand if you like. I'll get some idea at least.

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Broadmonkey
Fancy Rank

06 Jul 2013, 22:29

matt3o wrote:
Broadmonkey wrote:I'm in for an alu plate and bottom in steel. I will see about the layout when I get home.
Regarding the whole mirror finish, why not polish the plate mirror blank yourself? I have watched a helluva lot of case mods, and I don't think I have ever seen anyone get a finished mirror blank piece straight from the shop.
No idea how to do that, but if feasible that would be great.
Actually I have polished some items before with good results, all you really need is some sandpaper, a power drill, some buffing wheels and some buffing/polishing compound. It's really not a hard task, especially when you just have to polish a flat surface that has only been laser cut, so the surface doesn't have any uneven areas or scratch marks.

Tbh, I don't think the laser cutter carry any pre-polished (to a mirror) sheets of steel. I could imagine, it would just be a waste to get it polished before cutting, since there is a high possibility the unit will have to be repolished afterwards anyway.

User avatar
Muirium
µ

06 Jul 2013, 22:34

Indeed. If their involvement ends at the laser, this sounds quite likely. Fancy whipping your camera out next time you're down there, Matt, and posting pictures of their samples?

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photekq
Cherry Picker

06 Jul 2013, 23:02

Hi Matt3o. I'd like to get this plate cut from 1.5mm aluminium.
Image
It's just a regular phantom plate with 1.5x mods and 7x spacebar, except it's designed for my TEK-80.
If you could get me a quote that would be great. The timing of this was perfect. I was just about to look for people who could laser cut this plate.
DXF can be found here : https://www.dropbox.com/s/hsqjp4pmiqrvv ... 150.SLDPRT

Thank you very much and let me know if you see any problems :)

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

06 Jul 2013, 23:40

Broadmonkey wrote:Tbh, I don't think the laser cutter carry any pre-polished (to a mirror) sheets of steel. I could imagine, it would just be a waste to get it polished before cutting, since there is a high possibility the unit will have to be repolished afterwards anyway.
the sheet comes already polished. It has a protective film on the mirror surface. The cut is clear and doesn't damage the surface, but you can see small burns on the section/side in some situations (eg: screw holes).
photekq wrote: Thank you very much and let me know if you see any problems :)
there shouldn't be any problem with your design. tomorrow I'll have a look at the DWG.

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Muirium
µ

06 Jul 2013, 23:42

matt3o wrote:the sheet comes already polished. It has a protective film on the mirror surface. The cut is clear and doesn't damage the surface, but you can see small burns on the section/side is some situations (eg: screw holes).
Jackpot.

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

07 Jul 2013, 13:08

@photekq, the file is a SLDPRT, I don't know how to convert it. Please provide a DWG or DXF

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photekq
Cherry Picker

07 Jul 2013, 15:56

matt3o wrote:@photekq, the file is a SLDPRT, I don't know how to convert it. Please provide a DWG or DXF
Woops. Linked to the wrong file. Sorry about that.
https://www.dropbox.com/s/g8jeqefilzzlsxm/P-ANSI150.DXF

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

07 Jul 2013, 16:05

perfect. I see no issues. I'll add it to the mix. When will have more designs I'll request the quote. I'd say that the cost of that plate if it were to be cut alone (not in a GB) is around €50 (in aluminum).

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Vierax

07 Jul 2013, 23:06

matt3o wrote:
I work in DraftSight. The service I use seems to like it. DWG seems reliable enough.
Well, there is no prob with Draftsight but maybe there is with another software :S
matt3o wrote:@photekq, the file is a SLDPRT, I don't know how to convert it. Please provide a DWG or DXF
DXF file format seems more reliable and supported. For example, Inkscape can export in DXF :)
Share your custom keyboard experience in the workshop :)
It's not finished yet, and I don't want to take pictures of the process because mine is so amateur :roll: : tracing paper, metal files, woodcut gouges, hand saws,… a lot of sweat spended ! I even used an eggbeater drill :lol: but I replaced it by a pistol drill mounted on a column (a cheap drill press)
It seems epic but it's a pain, especially the plate's square holes for MX switches.

This GB came too late to me :cry:

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photekq
Cherry Picker

08 Jul 2013, 00:04

matt3o wrote:perfect. I see no issues. I'll add it to the mix. When will have more designs I'll request the quote. I'd say that the cost of that plate if it were to be cut alone (not in a GB) is around €50 (in aluminum).
€50 is a good price for me. If it gets any lower that'd be even better. Thanks again for running this matt3o, it came at the perfect time for me. Any idea how much shipping will cost to the UK?

User avatar
matt3o
-[°_°]-

08 Jul 2013, 08:09

photekq wrote:Any idea how much shipping will cost to the UK?
read the OP carefully :P 1 plate is less that 500gr

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matt3o
-[°_°]-

08 Jul 2013, 09:52

These are the layers needed by Muirium's board.
muirium-v1.png
muirium-v1.png (4.03 KiB) Viewed 8920 times
And this is the DWG.
muirium.dwg.zip
(14.41 KiB) Downloaded 164 times
Of course you need 2x the top layer and 2x the third layer.

Please triple check it. Print it 1:1 and verify that everything's fine.

Especially the top frame is extremely fit, you need to check if the perimeter keys can actually be pressed. Maybe I should add at least 0.5mm clearance. Also check if the screw heads have enough room in the top frame.

If you need it I should be able to export a PDF.

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Muirium
µ

08 Jul 2013, 15:26

Thanks Matt! Yes, a .pdf would be pretty useful.

As I understand it:
  • 1x mirror steel trim layer of 1.5 mm
  • 1x aluminium plate layer of 1.5 mm*
  • 3x aluminium case layers of 3mm
  • 1x mirror steel base layer of 1.5mm
Corrections welcome!

*You said this about 1.5 mm aluminium in your Brownfox build thread:
matt3o wrote:The aluminum plate is 1.5mm thick, but I have the feeling that I could have done it 2mm for better stability. Next time I might try that. I had a similar keyboard done in steel and keys stick better on 1.5mm steel than they do on 1.5mm alu. Steel is too stiff though and typing is a bit tiring.
Have you changed your mind about 1.5 mm aluminium's feel?

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