Another Cool Invention Gets a Hand Up from 3D Printing

Tim Potter – Inventor of the Key Waffle Device

The very cool device in this video was created by Tim Potter. According to his biography, he’s an ambassador for The Seasteading Institute and spends his free time “developing and gathering the knowledge, the skills, the people, and the technology necessary to open up the next frontier, the oceans, to homesteading and to the peaceful evolution of society.”

He also designs fun little hacks like the Key Waffle for the iPhone. I took some time to ask Tim about his invention:

Sam Green: “What made you develop the Key Waffle?”

Tim Potter: “Before the iPhone redefined the smartphone, I was using the Motorola Q.  A wonderful device that could do everything I thought I needed.  Over time I became intimately aware of the keys on the Motorola Q device.  If I needed to send a message but I was in a formal setting, such as a meeting or a lecture hall, I knew exactly where each key was with my hands under the table.  A little muscle memory was all it took to send off my message. The Key Waffle is a key guard for the iPhone to enable sightless text messaging as well as to enable those with fat fingers to type easily and accurately.”

Sam Green: What’s your experience with 3D printing for this project?

Tim Potter: I used a home made 3d printer at a hackerspace for producing very fast prototypes and crude feedback, such as testing dimension assumptions.  I would also order the occasional finished product from Shapeway’s Objet 3D printers throughout the design process.  The use of Objet 3D printers for both  the design process and the production process allows me to deliver a consistent product to consumers every time, the kind of consistency that would allow for an intimate awareness of the keys.

SG: I notice you used the Objet Clear Transparent material for the Key Waffle. How did it perform and are you pleased with the overall result of the device?

TP: “Much to my surprise, neither the materials nor the raised-wall design prohibited special characters or the slide-to-unlock function!  At the same time, the raised negative space is just enough to prevent unwanted key strikes.  The thumb sinks into the desired key but will not mistakenly contact any other nearby key.”

SG: “What’s next on the horizon for you?”

TP: “Right now I am making a roller coaster to be printed on an Objet 3D printer.”

SG: “Sounds great, Tim. Make sure to share it with the Objet blog when you’re ready! Bye for now and good luck!”

TP: “Thank you very much”

Like what you read? Share the love!