Touch sensitive hexagon keyboard

Please Login to Comment sure you have all seen the hexagon wall lamps that are floating around here on the forums. This is an idea i`ve had in my head for quite a while now: I would love to make a "keyboard" out of that design.

I am an Audio Engineer so i got that part done but im quite new to the whole printing part of it. (Ive done 3D design for the past 15 years and Audio for the past 20, just not printing) The initial idea is that i want to print a hexagon keyboard (black and white keys) that is touch sensitive and will trigger an electric signal towards the audio engine i have prepared for it. in other words..It is a hexagon keyboard that you can organize as you wish yourself on the wall or the floor that will allow you to play as if it was a piano through a speaker system of choice. The ULTIMATE goal one day would be to have it connect through wireless AND have LEDs that light up on each key as you hit them. But that would be a V.2 project. I would like to start at the right end and make a base first then maybe develop it later. Short story is---> If anyone would offer advice and ideas/help on the printing side then that would be immensely helpful to me even down to some basics like which filaments would be touch-sensitive (electric impulses or close to what a touch screen does today on your phone) And i would handle the development and testing with the advice provided (since im not a 3d printing wiz yet)+ be responsible for the audio engine/circuitboard to provide the sound. This is not a commercial product and everyone involved will of course be commended and credited for any help.

If you think you can answer, help develop...or already have a similar idea. Please send me a PM and let`s see how we get on from there.

There is some conductive PLA material made by Protopasta, and here is a project where they made a little capacitive controller:
When you said keyboard, at first I thought you meant a computer keyboard, but something like that with hexagonal keys would also be cool. If you have a multi-material printer capability e.g. dual nozzle, toolchanger or filament changer, you could embed circuit traces into the body of the keyboard. That would probably add a lot of troubleshooting and complexity though and not everyone has multi-material printing capability.

Conductive traces could be printed onto a flat surface of a printed part though, with a simple material change. You could effectively print 2D traces onto the backside of the keyboard. The capacitive effect of the buttons may be hampered by long thin traces with high resistance though (or crosstalk between traces from capacitive coupling) so wires may be needed for each button. This would require some experimentation to see if it would work, but fully printed electrical traces would be cool just because. Then print the buttons separately in conductive material, and perhaps use a 3D printing pen with conductive filament to join the buttons to the electrical traces.

I don't know of any conductive filament that is transparent (since they contain conductive fillers like graphite), so any LED backlight would have to be in the body of the keyboard.

Not really sure on the electrical side of things, but there is a whole custom 3D printed mechanical (computer) keyboard which has a lot of overlap and could probably figure something out. Kinda like this:

Makey-Makey Game controller made with Proto-Pasta Conductive PLA

Thank you so much for your reply. Several have asked for a preview or a minidesign version of my idea so i will post that up soon so it makes more sense as to what i am trying to do. I`ll look through the links you posted for me. :) Each "trigger/note" will be individually wired, as that is the system my circuitboard will be intreracting with the panel and speaker as per today. I was palnning to use simple black and white as a normal synth/keyboard/piano is but this will of course be up to the user and what filaments/colours they use. I dont see painting or spraying the panels as an option as that would most likely inhibit the touch sensitivity/conduction.

I meant to say "custom 3D printed mechanical (computer) keyboard hobby group".

I didn't edit the first post because sometimes it flags the post for moderation.

Not sure why the text went all willywonka on me in the middle there, i apologize hahaha