Made some CAD progress on how it might look.
Not convinced on my hook implementation yet. I'm still thinking some sort of snap fit to secure the connector.
Maybe also make it a PCB that is soldered, but then removing the connector would be very hard since solder isn't flexible.
With a 3D printed part you could snap it on or off when needed. Not very tinker friendly but hardline watercooling also isn't tinker friendly right?
Right now I'm sitting on 2 0.6mm PCBs that would be 1.2mm in total. in theory a 0.6mm PCIe connector could exist.
QinX' XVULP™ PCIe connector
If it is a pure 2d piece, we can use layers of acrylic, which can be much cheaper to 2d laser cut than to individually 3d print. We need to do a test to see how much height the solder takes up on average and then build around it. We can also employ a nylon screw to hold the acrylic backplate to cover the PCB.
I think it's reasonable to have it require up to 5mm of clearance, much better than the current 15mm clearance for the PCIe power connectors.