I ordered a few cases to be CNCd with powder coat for the top part, I will tell you if I’m satisfied with the finish.
Powder coating is not very commonly used on a keeb, maybe because the coating thickness is quite big compared to other techniques like anodizing or cerakote.
Coating thickness can vary greatly depending on the powder used and the talent of the applicator.
Too thick and you have the ‘orange peel’ problem.
Normally for a standard powder type with uniform color you’d expect between 2 to 4 mils of thickness, and your case dimensions must take that thickness into account to be able to assemble it.
But the finish is very durable and when you see what @norbauer is able to achieve with specialty powders it is definitely worth it and adds originality.
Another finish that I am interested with is the anodizing type III (called hard coat anodizing).
This finish is VERY durable and the coating thickness is also quite big (0.05mm on average).
But it is still less than powder coat as the oxyde layer grows equally under and on top of the piece so that it only adds 0.025mm thickess in reality.
As for coloring you have not much choice though, it is black brown or grey dye, or no dye at all (depending on aluminium, type III already gives a medium and/or brownish color to the metal).
I love this topic. It’s one I’ve delved into a little bit, but am interested to really explore further. What I’ve tried so far:
On the positive side, it’s very durable and generally can be cleaned with just about anything. There are lots of finishes available, though there are some limitations compared to things like paint when it comes to certain kinds of finishes like very glossy or smooth, special color effects, etc. It can be quite expensive or surprisingly cheap, and it depends totally on who does it in your area. In my old home town, a local bike shop guy had his own home-built setup and charged peanuts, whereas here in the state Capitol city, I’d be very lucky to find a place that would do a case for less than a hundred bucks.
Here’s a closeup photo of a GMMK I had powder coated satin white:
You might be able to see some small bubble imperfections in the surface; I’d call this a “so-so” job, and I’ve definitely seen better - but the finish will definitely last.
Not so much as an aftermarket thing, but as an option on a stock keeb. I have one of Filco’s Kobo cases and am a big fan of the finish; it’s glossy, smooth, and can have all kinds of neat effects like sparkles, an almost woodgrain sheen, splatter designs, etc. From what I understand, the case underneath is a standard plastic Filco case, though I don’t know exactly what plastic that is. Here’s a closeup of the Kobo “classic brown” finish:
The graininess is actually the old phone camera this was taken with; the finish itself is done with dripping pigment, so you won’t see any pixels there like you might on a faux-wood desk.
Laminated Vinyl Wrap:
Really only suitable for cases with flat plates, or at least ones that only bend in one axis - unless you’re an industry wrap expert, then go HAAM. While the range of finishes is small (gloss, semi gloss, not gloss), the possibilities for design are totally endless.
You can use a camo pattern. You can use wood grain. Paisley. Whatever pattern you want - but it doesn’t have to be a pattern, either. You can use photos, custom graphics, anything that can be printed can be put on vinyl. Here’s a shot of a Hexgears Impulse with a wrapped top plate I did for a friend:
The lamination layer makes it a little thicker and harder to work with, but it will make the print last much, much longer and stand up to scuffing and basic cleaning.
As for the type of vinyl to use: you’ll want “air-channel release” auto wrap vinyl, or a similar product - the adhesive layer has air-channels to let out air and prevent bubbles; the difference this makes compared with standard adhesive is huge, and makes application much easier.
Things I haven’t tried yet but want to:
Auto paint, specifically the color changing “chameleon” stuff
Engraved steel (probably a pipe-dream in terms of cost but it’s so coooool)
This was actually an option in the Southpaw Fullsize GB, you could get 7075 alu with hard anodization (black) instead of 6063 with standard. I’m pretty sure the one @Manofinterests got is actually hard ano.
Personally, I’ve seen a few people breathe new life into some cheap old boards with spray paint. Taekeyboards has several videos about painting boards as well.
That electroless nickel finish looks pretty interesting. I’d love to have a metal colored colored keeb that doesn’t need any maintenance to stay sharp looking. Then that midnight black electroless nickel coating looks great also, but that seems to be super cost prohibitive for a black finish.