What makes his joystick special is the fact that it is 3D-printed and made entirely of plastic, with no screws or metal parts whatsoever. Akaki used thin sheets of printed plastic for the hinges, making them very flexible. These “flexures” as they are also called, act as springs, structures, and hinges at the same.
While the device doesn’t have the most premium look and seems, oh well, a bit “plasticky” at first glance, the flexibility of these hinges offers a great, realistic feel when you’re controlling the joystick, just like with the ones you find on the market.
How does Akaki’s joystick work? You attach it to your Xbox controller, with the motions in the flight stick being transmitted to your controller. Buttons on the flight stick have plastic linkages that push the buttons on the controller, which gives you all the inputs you would normally have on a real one.
There are no plans to commercialize these 3D-printed joysticks according to their creator, but Akaki says that if interest is expressed, he’s willing to make some more videos explaining how to design such mechanisms. He also considers making a few more designs for different controllers in the future.