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Want some free outsourced manufacturing?


Staff member
Our friends at Xometry (www.xometry.com) have a huge array of on-demand production capabilities. They are also looking for cool case studies. So are we!

If you have an interesting use case and need to get something prototyped or perhaps even short-run manufactured, and are willing to share your story with them in a case-study-like fashion, then we might be able to get you approved to have some free manufacturing done.

The more interesting your work, and the more interesting your models, the higher the likelihood that we can work something out.

If you're interested, post some pictures of your projects here and let's talk about it.

They do:



Senior Member
I've submitted an earlier version of this project to the annual contest -- I have been working on a portable radiation detector that uploads reading to the cloud, and the product is reaching the point of coming out of the early prototype phase.


It is designed to sit inside a Pelican all-weather case. If we remove that from the assembly, you can see what I've designed -- the electronics PCBA that has a solar panel module, a LCD display, GPS receiver, and a wireless communication module that uploads data to the cloud:

On the bottom side, you can see the removable radiation detector module and the two battery power option -- either a paid of 18650 LiPo cells, or a custom battery pack that is designed to keep the unit powered for a long time when there is no solar energy to recharge the LiPo cells.


There are three plastic parts that go into this product -- the plastic frame that mounts the electronics to the Pelican enclosure (shown in tan color), the housing for the radiation detector (shown in blue), and the clip hat holds the long-duration battery (shown in white).


I've designed the parts to be injection moldable (or at least close -- maybe slight tweaks needed). The early prototypes have been printed with SLA -- but the thin features on the radiation detector cover has been challenging, and the shape of the battery clip has had challenges holding dimension when 3D printed. It would be nice to be able to get those injection molded. The PCB frame probably still makes economic sense to 3D print right now, but it would be neat if it too could be injection molded.


I've been working for a while on a new sensing technology where one of the main applications is computer keyboards. In this application there are many benefits compared to existing keyboards, especially for gamers where we can offer "negative latency" for the fastest possible response time as well as other features to improve gaming. It's also well-suited to other applications, especially for musicians and creatives, and to aid accessibility for people who have difficulties using normal keyboards.

I've attached some renderings of current, and older, designs all done in Alibre and Keyshot.

All software and electronics is in place, now we need to get all the mechanical parts production ready which is proving more difficult. There are many mechanical parts, but the place to start is the switches themselves. We need to achieve very smooth sliding motion with minimal wobble, nice feel, sound, reliability, etc. This not only requires having the right materials for each part of the switch but also high enough precision to evaluate how parts fit together and perform. Probably several iteration steps to this.

We have done several 3D printed versions using different technologies and materials, and this is getting close, but still not close enough. We will need to move to injection moulding, but there are various ways to get to that point. Is this after, or part of, the prototyping stage?

The switches are only one part of it, the rest of the product casing needs to be done too.

I believe this would make a nice case study, not just because of the interesting application, but because of the finessing required to make prototypes and progress it to a production-ready state. Several different materials and manufacturing techniques are required. Prototype quantities are quite large (a single keyboard needs more than 100 switches). It could be a long journey, but a very interesting and satisfying one!


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Staff member
These are both interesting. Sending to Xometry to get their thoughts.