3D-printed magnetic switches promise truly custom keyboards

While most people are happy to type on whatever keyboard comes with their machine, for keyboard enthusiasts, there’s nothing to overlook in the quest for the perfect keyswitch mechanism. Enter [Riskable], featuring an innovative design for a 3D printed mechanism that offers near infinite adjustability without the use of springs or metal contacts.

The actual switching is performed by a Hall effect sensor, the specifics of which are detailed in a second reference document. The main project is simply the printed components and magnets that make up the switch mechanism. Each switch uses three 4 x 2mm magnets, one static mounted on the switch housing and two on the moving switch slider. One is mounted below the angled static magnet to attract it, while the other is above and repel it.

With this arrangement, the lower magnet provides the required tactility, while the repulsive force of the upper magnet replaces the spring used in a traditional mechanism. [Riskable] call it the Magnetically Separated Contactless Keyswitch, but we think “revolutionary” sounds better.

The part that makes this very special is that it is a fully parametric OpenSCAD model in which the separation of the magnets is customizable, so the builder has full control over the tactility and feedback force of the keys . There’s a video review we’ve posted below that demonstrates this with a test keyboard showing a range of touch settings.

We have a resident keyboard expert here at Hackaday in the form of our colleague [Kristina Panos], whose Stay with Kristina series introduced us to all that is interesting in the world of text input. She plans to take a keyboard made up of these smart switches on a test drive, once she’s extruded the required number of small, delicate pieces.

Thank you [Daren Schwenke] for the tip.