3d printed hexagons

I’ve just done my first test of 3d printed hexagons, and it works great: https://vimeo.com/360386065

I’m working with two different stiffnesses of bendy plastic (exact specs when I remember to look them up…) with a very flexible bottom layer and stiffer hexagons. It’s done on an Ultimaker, with a stop after the first few layers to allow a material change. It’s a small section of the pad as there were only a few samples of the material in the workshop, and it’s a bit rough as the machine was configured wrong - but it plays quite nicely, even works with pitchbend.

The map is kind of what you’d expect - a harmonic hexagon setup.

HexMap.senselmap (6.9 KB)


  • make the map in Sensel
  • export SVG
  • Fire up Fusion360
  • create a Sketch, import the SVG into it, with a very strange scale factor for some reason
  • extrude out the part and save as STL (below).
  • slice, setup materials.

HexagonOverlay.stl.zip (98.6 KB)

Next up is to figure out some way to do magnets.

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This is really cool, Dave. We’ve played with Hex Keyboard mappings under the Innovator’s Overlay but hadn’t had the chance to make a 3D Overlay. This takes it to the next level. Thanks a ton for sharing your awesome work.

Looks great! Would love to know what material you are using for the flexible yellow.

This is incredible! I have a question though: why the space between each hexpad?

Thanks all!
New video with a whole pad here: https://vimeo.com/360893230

(Still learning the hex layout, but my fingers like it!)

The material is from Recreus - ‘FilaFlex’. We had a sample pack in the workshop, still figuring out what works well. Their site is here, the sample pack should just about get you a controller or two: https://recreus.com
That said, it’s a bit fiddly to work with - the Ultimaker 2+ was completely fine, the S5 can’t do it at all, it tries to be too clever.

The first test was with their “Original 82a” for the yellow base and the “Med-Flex 95a” for the black hexagons. The one below is the other way round - the stiffer 95a for the base and the softer for the orange hexagons. So far, I prefer the original way round - really flexible base, slightly solider hexagons.

The space between hexagons is just to avoid accidental triggers. It’s probably not needed on the 3d printed layer, really, although I think having at least a tiny gap between the pads will make sure that notes are triggered cleanly. The picture I have in my head for this one is that the bottom sheet is super flexible but the pads are quite stiff, so they spread the force nicely onto the morph.


Nicely done, thanks for sharing!
If you want to make an overlay of softer material I’d recommend to 3d-print a mold with normal filament, and then cast silicone rubber in it, like Wacker Elastosil Vario (shore A hardness between 15 and 40) or Smooth-on Dragonskin (various hardnesses). I use shore A 15 myself for nice squishy buttons.

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Thanks, yes, definitely on my list of things to try, glad to know it works. Do you do any prep on the 3d print before using it as a mould? I had in mind that direct printing is good for prototypes, and then making a mould would be nice for running off a few copies.

I use the 3d print directly as mold, the silicone easily releases. Then I put the first color silicone in the mold, leave it to harden for a few hours, then fill the rest of the mold with another color, and use a 2mm acrylic sheet as mold cover. I bend the acrylic a bit, push it on the middle of the mold and flatten it out to the sides, pressing the excess silicone out.

I also cut molds out of foam, then I use polyvinyl alcohol as mold release.

Thanks! That’s exactly what I had in mind. Will report back :slight_smile:

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