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Lasercut Acrylic
Case Tutorial
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Lasercut Acrylic Case Tutorial - Buttons
Button Design
Getting the buttons right is pretty tricky. I'm still working on the best system for this. There are a few options. Usually I want my buttons to protrude a little from the surface of the case, and to be matte finished like the main plastic.

The first option is to cut the buttons from a thicker stock than the front plate acrylic. This way they can stick up a bit. My current favorite however is to have the buttons superglued to the top of a microswitch from digikey, which itself is mounted to a PCB designed for the purpose. The PCB is mounted to a stack of cut plastic sheets, and a laser cut foam gasket is applied to the front of the button PCB. Taken together this spaces the button board away from the top sheet by a certain amount, and also braces it against the back sheet. The foam gasket is cut such that some fingers of foam extend into the hole cut in the front sheet for the buttons. These fingers serve to stabilize the edges of the buttons and give them more return force for when they are depressed.

For this picture sequence though, the buttons are just glued onto microswitches, which themselves are glued to the back of the li-poly battery inside the case. Tiny pieces of foam are adhered to the back of the larger buttons to stabilize them during depression. The buttons are wired to the controller board using tiny strips of copper tape.

Button Painting
Paint the buttons in the same way that the main plates were painted. The same stencil method may be used to put graphics on the buttons, which I have gotten more into recently.


Paint the Buttons

Button Finishing
Sand and buff the buttons. I find that this is ok to do by hand since you are just trying to round the top edges of the buttons and the surface area in question is small. It helps to mount the buttons to something; in this picture I've hot glued the button to the end of a paint pen. The back of an xacto knife works well too (remove the blade first). After finishing, the button can be peeled off the mandrel and the hot glue can be picked off of it. Apparently the bond of the screenprinting ink to acrylic is stronger than the hot glue to paint bond.

Sand and Buff the Buttons

Button Mounting
For mounting, cut and adhere the tiny bits of foam. I buy my foam with adhesive on one side from McMaster-Carr.

Then apply a tiny drop of superglue to the top of a microswitch, then drop the button in its hole. Sticking the front of a button to a piece of tape is helpful, since then you can grap the ends of the tape to maneuver the button into its hole.


Button Mounting

Let the glue dry.

On to pics of the Finished Product

Design partially original and partially ripped off from other websites
by Holly Gates