Rubber grips on cameras have a long and sordid history of coming loose over time. Many rubber grips swell and expand with use, leading to detaching corners and eventually the entire grip. Hopefully in the future, manufacturers may change to a more robust material that holds its shape and doesn’t swell.
My E-M1 II began losing it’s rubber grip recently. Rather than trying to source one from Olympus, I decided to try a new approach. Recently I have been doing lots of 3D printing with a nylon + carbon fibre material. This plastic is interesting in that it’s very strong, but not brittle, and has a slightly rough texture to it that is very comfortable to hold. It is hard to describe, but it feels somewhat like denim fabric that has been wrapped tightly against a surface. It seemed an ideal option for replacement grips as it had the required surface texture, and would hold it’s shape under very stressful environmental conditions.
Developing the CAD model was the most difficult part of the process. The E-M1 II has 3 rubber grips. The rear and side grip are relatively simply, but the front grip has to conform to the camera body, which has a very complex shape. To replicate this, I removed the rubber grips and digitised the camera body using photogrammetric techniques. Then, using Rhino3D, I recreated the inner surface of the grips from the photogrammetric mesh. I then designed a new outer surface similar to the original rubber grip.
Of course, once you have a digital model, then there is also a degree of freedom in the design aspect. I experimented with adding various additional textures to the grips, ranging from a fine grain pattern texture, like the original rubber grip, to adding curved ridges for extra grip. The final design used circular raised ridges as they were comfortable, and aesthetically pleasing.
A few test prints later, to check the fit, and the camera is back in action. The new grips even make it feel more robust, as they have no squish like the rubber grips, so the camera now feels like it’s been hewn from a single block.
If you want a set, you can grab a set from my Etsy store.