Thursday, June 16, 2016

Ball Chair Project Pt. 22.... Buttons, Buttons, And More Buttons!

About ten days ago I thought I had finally completed the upholstery work for the ball chair project.  Boy was I wrong.  I had assembled all of the buttons that I needed for the upholstery.  A real pain to be sure only to find out that after a couple of days several of the installed buttons had failed to stay assembled.  I spoke with my sister Rose who has done professional sewing for 40 plus years and she agreed with me that making covered buttons was and still is a  royal pain and iffy at best if they will work properly especially with vinyl upholstery.

Here is the picture I posted the first time around of the wedge pieces completed.  With the failures of some of the buttons I decided to rethink my design or should I say go back to my original idea of having buttons that were Navy blue with a white star on them.  I thought it would tie in nicely with the entire USA theme of the Captain America ball chair.  So with that in mind I started searching online to find what I wanted for the interior.  Way to many hours later, bleary eyed, and tired of looking I gave up my search.  I had found buttons with stars on them but way to small and nothing on a Navy blue field.  I got off of the computer for several more hours but did learn how some of these buttons were constructed.  How hard could it be to make my own buttons using my 3D printer?  I started back to work on the problem.

I started the first attempt at making the 27 buttons that I needed.  I 3D printed the button that you see above.  It was the right diameter but to thick and close to the color that I wanted but the star stuck out to far from the face of the blue button.  And of course the rough surface of the button would need to be sanded smooth. All easily fixed.

I printed the next button thinner than the first and then sanded the top surface smooth.  The opening in the recessed star area of the button is so the eyelet that is printed on the back of the star can slide through and make mounting the buttons an easy task.

Here is what the back of a button looks like.  Each button is 1 1/2" in diameter and the back surface did not have to be sanded smooth as it would not be seen in the final assembly.  With the star eyelet coming through the button it is an easy task to pull the button down into the upholstery without a fear of it coming apart.  I printed the parts using a 40% fill so they are nearly solid ABS plastic.  Very strong buttons.

I sanded all of the faces of the buttons smooth and decided to paint them to match the amplifier housing that will be in the chair.  This was an easy task of putting on several coats of Navy blue paint onto each button.  The test button stands out in the photo above as it is not painted and is a nice color blue but nowhere near the color that I wanted for the ball chair.

Once all of the buttons had dried for a couple of days it was a simple matter of assembling the stars into each button as pictured above. 

After a couple of hours I had scrapped the original gray vinyl covered buttons and replaced them with the new star buttons.  Quite a satisfying thing to do and with that it adds just that little bit more detail into the interior of the ball chair.  Plus the fact that I know that the new buttons will stay in place without worrying about them failing.   I also can always make more buttons if I should want to install them in a foot stool I have been thinking about for the chair.  So now I am sure that I can cross off the upholstery work for this project.  A good time to put my feet up and take a break for a while.

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