3d Printing Braille Keyboard Caps

Prints (0)


Hello, my name is Rick. This is my entry for the Envision the Future 3D Printing Design Challenge. For this challenge MatterHackers, Enabling the Future Dot Org, Lulzbot, and Pinshape tasked makers to create either an educational model to communicate a concept or lesson in the classroom for the blind and visually impaired or to design an assistive devise for simple every day tasks. For my submission, I will be focusing on the latter and show you my design to design an assistive devise for simple everyday tasks. I have a close friend of mine who I have confided in to review my design because she is a visually impaired person who uses computers every day. She has Neuromylitis Optica, otherwise known as NMO, which has caused significant vision loss. This was an amazing learning experience for me and I am excited to share with you my design.

I am proud to present to you my 3D printed Braille Laptop Keyboard Caps. Computers are critical tools in everyday life. This also applies to those who are visually impaired. Laptops are great for those who are visually impaired. The touch pad is a great way to make a computer more tactile and the screens can be zoomed in to a size they can see, but typing is a different story. I personally have a difficult time typing without glancing at the keyboard and looking where my fingers are placed to make sure I hit the next letter correctly. For those who are visually impaired they do not have the luxury of giving a quick glance when typing. Most people who are visually impaired and use computers must learn how to type without looking at the keyboard at all. To learn and master this skill they use programs that read key strokes back to them, like the program JAWS.

The 3D Printed Braille Laptop Keyboard Caps are designed to solve that issue. These caps will allow someone who is visually impaired feel the letter they are about to type in a language that they can feel. Here is how they work. Take the key cap and adhere it to the correct key on the laptop with super glue or another adhesive. Once the glue dries it is ready to go.

There are a few main points that my friend informed me about this design that I didn’t initially consider. My friend initially said she wouldn’t have a need for her keyboard to have these caps because she has already learned how to type without the JAWS program. However, she mentioned that it would be a great learning assistant for those who are learning to type and that it would be a great help for her to make key caps for specialty keys, like the delete, home, and nums lock keys, because they are not standardized on all keyboards like letters are.

As simple as this design is, it took a while to get to this point. First, I wanted to design braille caps for keyboards on desktops because it is easy to switch key caps in a standard cherry switch. I came to the realization that few people use mechanical keyboards and the design should hit a broader audience. So, I decided that I needed to come up with something that would fit most laptops. I decided to base the design on a MacBook Pro. The MacBook Pro is a common laptop that is thin which is a great design challenge to make the caps fit. I took a quick measurement of the size of the key and went from there. I guessed at some sizes and printed it and it turned out that the laptop wouldn’t close. So, I went back and printed it thinner. It still wouldn’t close. Even thinner? Nope, the laptop wouldn’t close. I then went and printed it with a three-layer base and a two-layer braille height and the computer would finally close.

With the finalized design, it was time to print, and boy was printing fast. Individually each key cap took about 2 minutes because they are so thin. A whole set will take roughly two hours. This is incredibly easy to print as well. I printed all the caps on my He3D Delta 180. This is a $200 printer that I assembled and heavily modified myself. My layer height was at 0.2mm. Since the caps are so small most settings will work for printing them, as long as the settings are modified for the proper layer height.

Due to the versatility of this design it is not limited to just laptop keyboards. This can be used for desk top keyboards and tablet keyboards with no modification.

That is 3D Printed Braille Laptop Key Caps and my submission for the Envision the Future 3D Printing Design Challenge. It is amazing what 3D printing can do and the problem it can solved. Thank you for your time.

Design Files

File Size

Braille Key Rev 3.stl
41.7 KB


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