--[ x14km2d

| Soft Button

--[ 0 - Intro --[ 1 - Materials --[ 2 - Build --[ 3 - Conclusion --[ 4 - Comment --[ A - Changelog

09/11/2021

--[ 0 - Intro

There are things I liked to do before my 3D printer and that was to make prototypes. If you're into electrical engineering and model making, you'll eventually start solving problems yourself. Sure, you can buy soft buttons and use them in your project, but why not build them yourself. I also have the urgent need to throw less garbage in the garbage cans. All things that I can keep out of the cycle of buying and throwing away for a longer time are more sensible than the garbage that is produced by me every day[1].

--[ 1 - Materials

After showering I usually use a deodorant[2] to smell better. In a student flat that is important to smell as little as possible. Remember that please. Anyway, the deodorant was then empty and just as I wanted to throw the can in the trash I noticed how beautiful actually the soft material on the lid looks. It also feels very good and while looking at it, I had the idea to use it as a protective material over a push button. I am a very haptic person.

--[ 2 - Build

So I went to my room and started cutting the lid apart. First I removed the spray system from the lid and it was very easy. I just had to pull on the component and it came off all by itself. I put the spray system in my kitbash box because I already saw a radar system for a station or spaceship in it. The rest of the lid I threw in the trash.

So that the button does not slip at the first I put this in a breadboard. I then placed the soft material on it and pressed the button. I wanted to find out how the material feels and how the button reacts. Especially with such small components, you have to test a lot, because it very often comes to unforeseen problems that you could not know about before.

To make the next test more realistic, I built a small frame in Freecad, which I then machined with Superslicer and printed out in my 3D printer. I wanted to see how the soft material would behave when it was under tension, i.e. pressed into a mold. Since the soft material was pretty thick this didn't work as well as I thought it would. The button was pressed in by the material and then could not bounce back. The idea of pressing the button through the opening with the soft material turns out to be a bad idea. This is quite normal and should not keep you from your plan.

My plan was to glue the button from the bottom side of the plastic part and to put the soft material on top, so that it is not under tension. But to do this, the button had to be connected to the plastic somehow. First I tried this with superglue, which didn't work. The superglue also flowed into the button and glued the mechanism, so I couldn't use the button anymore. Learned something again.

Instead, I then used yellow electrician's tape, which does not look so nice but serves its purpose. The button is connected to the plastic and I can put the soft material on top and test it.

This test worked so well that I could now expand my idea. Wouldn't it be great if there was a piece of plastic on top of the button that simulates a housing. Then I could also test how the button behaves when it is built into a complex construction. To do this, I printed out the same plastic component again with the 3D printer.

The rest of the process worked almost as if by itself. First, I cut the soft material into a rectangle so that it wouldn't get in the way of the other plastic parts. Then I modeled and printed four very small walls for my construction. Then I glued them with super glue. This didn't look super clean and nice in the end, but I achieved what I wanted. The button works great and the soft material is super soft and comfortable. I also like the color, which fits very well with the white housing.

--[ 3 - Conclusion

This project worked so well, it was really fun. I had an idea and the first rough draft worked. Overall, there's still a lot of tweaking that can be done and I've already wrote down some notes that I want to implement in a next version. Maybe I'll try a round hole with diagonal edges, so that the soft material and the button don't look out of place. Super exciting project and that our student flat consumes a lot of deodorant, I soon have a good supply of soft material to implement a larger project. Now the only question is what I can do with the aluminum can.

--[ 4 - Comment

[1] Of course, I could also buy products that produce less waste, but then I would rely on other people's solutions. In addition, I would then be less creative in my projects, because I would have everything ready. But I want to learn for myself how I can reduce waste by incorporating the materials into my own projects.
[2] Dove Deo Spray Antitransparent Summer Ritual 150ml

--[ A - Changelog