Poll

Matias keycaps you would buy...

Dye sub legends on Thick PBT
240 (24.5%)
Laser legends on Thick PBT
71 (7.3%)
Laser legends on Thick ABS
15 (1.5%)
Backlit ABS
25 (2.6%)
Doubleshot ABS
100 (10.2%)
Black legends on White caps
72 (7.4%)
Red legends on White caps
41 (4.2%)
Blue legends on White caps
58 (5.9%)
White legends on Black caps
63 (6.4%)
White legends on Red caps
31 (3.2%)
White legends on Blue caps
38 (3.9%)
Other colours (specified in the comment field)
33 (3.4%)
Blanks (no legends)
112 (11.4%)
Black legends on Grey caps
52 (5.3%)
White legends on Grey caps
28 (2.9%)

Total Members Voted: 308

Author Topic: Keycaps  (Read 150234 times)

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Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #50 on: Sun, 27 October 2013, 07:22:03 »
"Gold-on-black" actually looks really nice on Topre boards — it looks entirely deliberate and very refined, especially with their charcoal keyboard colour.¹ Aren't Topre caps all PBT except for spacebar? Topre reportedly also coat the keycap to protect the laser etching.

(¹ According to Wikipedia, "charcoal" is dark cyan (!) and "jet black" is in fact dark grey. I think they'll find that most people use "jet black" to refer to, like, actual black … though dictionary.com refers to it as "deep black", as though there were more than one shade of black …)

I'll ask SP about their pad printing anyway, just out of curiosity.
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #51 on: Sun, 27 October 2013, 07:40:11 »
"Gold-on-black" actually looks really nice on Topre boards — it looks entirely deliberate and very refined, especially with their charcoal keyboard colour.¹ Aren't Topre caps all PBT except for spacebar? Topre reportedly also coat the keycap to protect the laser etching.

Yes, used in the right context, gold-on-black certainly can look good, but we needed white-on-black.  :-)


Offline dorkvader

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #52 on: Mon, 28 October 2013, 13:21:10 »
As such, it's very hard to gauge the wear resistance of the thick ink printing. Is the ink laid on thick in the intention that it will abrade from top to bottom slowly (instead of flake off), with the extra thickness extending its longevity? I honestly don't know. It's surprisingly hard to find out anything for certain about how 99.9% of keyboards are labelled! It's very rare to see wear on vintage NTC keyboards, but it's just as likely that those that did wear, simply got binned! (Pad printing—which we assume 99% of keyboards use—seems to either last forever, or all come off in short order.)
I work at the second (or maybe third, counting fujitsu themselves) largest fujustu repair place in the US.
 Their keyboards are nice, and I have seen them with varying stages of wear. After seeing several hundred fujitsu keyboards, I would say that after four years of heavy use, only a few percent show faded legends.

If you like, I can dig up an old one to take pictures of.

Keep in mind: fujitsu changed their keyboard entirely for the T901/T731 update, with a different printing process. We'll see how well it holds up.

If you can do white on black, like cherry's no infilled POM, it will be one of the best keycap sets available for any platform, and I'll be getting a  DIY matias for sure in that case.

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #53 on: Mon, 28 October 2013, 15:37:47 »
I'm thinking of a Lifebook A512. I never got chance to take a photo of the keyboard, but essentially it's just thick ink printing.

What would be nice (for the DT wiki) is some nice close-ups.

It would certainly be interesting if this thick ink printing did represent a harder-wearing, longer life process. SP aren't able to offer any insight, only that they use an epoxy+ink mixture that they feel is just how it's done everywhere.
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #54 on: Tue, 29 October 2013, 05:02:32 »
It would certainly be interesting if this thick ink printing did represent a harder-wearing, longer life process. SP aren't able to offer any insight, only that they use an epoxy+ink mixture that they feel is just how it's done everywhere.

Do they run it through a UV machine?


Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #55 on: Tue, 29 October 2013, 05:08:57 »
I'm thinking of a Lifebook A512. I never got chance to take a photo of the keyboard, but essentially it's just thick ink printing.

The keyboard on the Lifebook A512 is a nice size for something with a number pad, but I'm not a fan of the single-width modifier keys.  They make my thumbs get all lost and confused.

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #56 on: Tue, 29 October 2013, 05:14:05 »
If you can do white on black, like cherry's no infilled POM, it will be one of the best keycap sets available for any platform, and I'll be getting a  DIY matias for sure in that case.

White laser on black caps is definitely do-able.

Laser requires no tooling, so it's a viable option for small runs, as long as the injection material is high quality.  Needless to say, it would be.  :)

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #57 on: Tue, 29 October 2013, 18:45:36 »
Do they run it through a UV machine?

Either all-over spray coating, or UV-cured selective image ("decal") coating. Both are optional.

The keyboard on the Lifebook A512 is a nice size for something with a number pad, but I'm not a fan of the single-width modifier keys.  They make my thumbs get all lost and confused.

I just remember that the switches were reasonable, but not a patch on those in the Latitude E4310, my current gold standard for scissor switches. The customer was thrilled with the keyboard — she made a special point of mentioning how good it was (with no prompting on my part).
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #58 on: Wed, 30 October 2013, 03:04:39 »
The keyboard on the Lifebook A512 is a nice size for something with a number pad, but I'm not a fan of the single-width modifier keys.  They make my thumbs get all lost and confused.

I just remember that the switches were reasonable, but not a patch on those in the Latitude E4310, my current gold standard for scissor switches. The customer was thrilled with the keyboard — she made a special point of mentioning how good it was (with no prompting on my part).

The keyboard on the Latitude was most likely made by Sunrex.  They are the main supplier of scissor modules to Dell, Apple, and others.

« Last Edit: Wed, 30 October 2013, 08:20:01 by Matias »

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #59 on: Wed, 30 October 2013, 14:59:27 »
The keyboard on the Latitude was most likely made by Sunrex.  They are the main supplier of scissor modules to Dell, Apple, and others.

I always felt that Apple chiclet keyboards were uniquely limp, with Sony chiclet keyboards being subtly but distinctly crisper. Dell is crisper again. There might be different switch travel ranges for different laptop thicknesses or something.

The Latitude E4310 was distinctly better than all other Dell E-series machines — even my colleagues remarked on how nice the keyboard was on that laptop. The Kensington Pro-Fit keyboard is also really good — being a wireless keyboard, it's more "desktop" scissor (more travel).

I've got a brand new Dell laptop to hand; I really can't tell what they've used for the legends, other than that it's matte white, very smooth, and flat (vintage non-coated pad printing is gloss and sometimes heavily raised). It's raised above the surface about as much as Filco pad printing: you can feel it, but not see it.

By comparison, Matias white-on-black lasering has a rougher texture and is quite visibly raised. Otherwise, they are very similar textures, and it may well be that Dell are using a heavily perfected laser process. The test would be in how fast it stains; my Quiet Pro sees very light use and the legends are visibly blackened already (though the guy using it is a smoker ;-) The same guy here has a similar Dell laptop — I'll have to compare it next time he's in (off sick at the moment).

Possibly they're using epoxy/UV+paint silkscreen for the additional colours?
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Offline dorkvader

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #60 on: Sat, 02 November 2013, 16:11:58 »
I just went outside and took a picture of some of the demo unit's keyboards.

Some notes:
Lenovo's enture line, and fujitsu's tablets both use those letter-shape pad printing things. Dell and HP seem to be using a matte keycap with the legend lasered through it, though the surface roughness is different between the two. I can't tell what the microsoft surface pro uses, but I got some pictures anyway. I will take pictures of a few generations of fujitsu tablet keyboards when I get home (If I remember) They are interesting, as my T4220 should have some wear on it.

Thanks for all the cool insider information, matias. I'm always interested in OEM's and especially manufacturing processes. I will have to look into sunrex I think.

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #61 on: Sat, 02 November 2013, 16:19:36 »
These are my two current examples of "non-decal" keys:

http://deskthority.net/wiki/File:Acer_Aspire_1362LC_keyboard_detail.jpg
http://deskthority.net/wiki/File:Dell_Latitude_E6430_legends.jpg

I just figured that both were pad-printed. The Latitude E6430 was brand new when that photo was taken, so it could easily be lasered. The Acer Aspire 1362LC is a fair few years old (big old laptop) — did anyone have white-on-black laser etching back then?

This is vintage thick, gloss printing:

http://deskthority.net/wiki/File:NTC_KB-6251EA_--_pad_printing_detail.jpg

I've seen the ink even more raised than that.
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #62 on: Sat, 02 November 2013, 16:23:14 »
Thanks for all the cool insider information, matias. I'm always interested in OEM's and especially manufacturing processes. I will have to look into sunrex I think.

No problem.

BTW, feel free to post any of the keycap pix you took. May as well head all the way down the rabbit hole. :-)

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #63 on: Sat, 02 November 2013, 16:24:48 »
I'm having trouble keeping up with all the active vortices …
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #64 on: Sat, 02 November 2013, 16:28:37 »

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #65 on: Sat, 02 November 2013, 16:33:08 »
What's "UV printing"? No-one has actually defined it yet. The only thing defined is that certain unspecified substances alter upon exposure to UV light to some unspecified degree of hardness, and that one or more of these substances are transparent and can be used as a protective layer above pad printing. SP's pad printing is epoxy+ink, with optional UV "selective image" ("decal") clear coating or all-over spray coating. (I don't know if "selective image" is an industry term or not.)
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #66 on: Sat, 02 November 2013, 16:55:21 »
What's "UV printing"? No-one has actually defined it yet. The only thing defined is that certain unspecified substances alter upon exposure to UV light to some unspecified degree of hardness, and that one or more of these substances are transparent and can be used as a protective layer above pad printing. SP's pad printing is epoxy+ink, with optional UV "selective image" ("decal") clear coating or all-over spray coating. (I don't know if "selective image" is an industry term or not.)

If you're looking for an official industry standard definition, I don't think you're going to find one.

Also, remember that for most of the vendors using these manufacturing processes, English is their second language.  In my experience in China and Taiwan, they lump together the decal and all-over spray coating method under the general term "UV coating".

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #67 on: Sat, 02 November 2013, 16:59:30 »
You said: "These are both most likely UV printing."

Do you have insider knowledge that Dell use something called "UV printing"?

Does "UV printing" have some sort of specific visual characteristic that you recognised in the photograph?

You must know something that allowed you to draw that conclusion.
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #68 on: Sun, 03 November 2013, 01:34:13 »
You said: "These are both most likely UV printing."

Do you have insider knowledge that Dell use something called "UV printing"?

I don't have any specific insider knowledge of what Dell's keyboard module supplier is doing -- we don't use them.  However, it's reasonable to assume that since they are in China, it's more likely that they are buying the same keycap printing material as others in the area, than say what SP in the US or Cherry in Germany have available locally.


Does "UV printing" have some sort of specific visual characteristic that you recognised in the photograph?

You must know something that allowed you to draw that conclusion.

The lack of a decal look, and the fact that they were both made in China, led me to that conclusion.  Same supply chain = same production methods.

The all-over coating approach uses a lot more coating material than decal, so it's unlikely they would choose that.  It's fine for SP -- their profit margins are huge -- but mass produced keyboard modules would not have such a costly extravagance.
« Last Edit: Sun, 03 November 2013, 01:35:44 by Matias »

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #69 on: Sun, 03 November 2013, 06:35:53 »
The problem is that I cannot really document that Dell use "UV printing" and simply pretend that anyone knows what it is, or that there's any way to recognise it and differentiate it from other methods (for example, dorkvader is implying that he thinks that the Dell legends are lasered — how do you tell?)

That's like me repeating the apparent wisdom that any Alps clone switch with four tabs is an "XM", whatever that means. (In most cases, the evidence suggests that they were made by Himake, but there are plenty of other companies including Taiwan Tai-Hao and "ATW", whoever they are.) I had to put a stop to that blind repetition — fortunately in that case, you knew what "XM" meant, and we've unravelled that mistake and found real knowledge.
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Offline dorkvader

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #70 on: Sun, 03 November 2013, 16:36:15 »
The rough texture  dell looks similar to the dells we have on the sales floor, I have a decent picture of those. It's hard to take macro photographs with a phone, but here's what I have (uploading now will edit when done.)

Dell:
In the above, notice the "S". This example was not fromt eh XT3, but one of the larger current notebooks. I can get the exact model number if you like.
Fujitsu (please ignore green tint caused by display being on):
^The above keyboard was used in all fujitsu's larger convertible tablets from about 2006 until they replaced it for the T901/731 and again for the T902/732. Models that include it are: (T4210, Tt4220, T5010, T900 and many of their notebooks)
Fujitsu T902:
HP 8760: (this keycap technology is used basically across HP's board, from the ultraportable revolve to the huge 8760)
MS Surface Pro:
Lenovo X230:
The above keyboard is similar to the X220's in terms of keycap printing. The same keyboard is used on the T430 and W530; certainly the same technology on the previous models, X220, T420s& T420, W520

If you look closely at the fujitsu, you can see a little wear on this example, though I have seen examples that are completely shiny and have the printing still visible. Also notice that edges of letters are sometimes darker or lighter.

We also have a bunch of IBM POS registers (that still use SDL to PS2 cables!) The keyboards (I've had to repair a few) are rubberdome over steel backplate (like the silent M's). I'm almost positive the keycaps are lasered and can get a picture at work if you like.

Seeing the full resolution of these makes me think I can get more detail. I want to take some "glare" photos that show the surface roughness and any raised portion on the keycap really well.

I've seen a LOT of keyboards, and am excited to finally start learning more about them. I think the fujitsu's are especially nice. Larger keys are stabilized with both a dummy scissor and wire stabilizers. My least favourite in terms of feel was from a consumer Toshiba.

edit: the Dell's we have are E6530's and E6330's. based on the name, I would imagine they are from the same year (current) as the E6430.
« Last Edit: Mon, 04 November 2013, 07:25:40 by dorkvader »

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #71 on: Sun, 03 November 2013, 19:08:18 »
Looking forward to the pics :)
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Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #72 on: Mon, 04 November 2013, 02:29:48 »
I see what you mean now about the lettering being recessed on a Dell, like they've burnt away the outer surface with a laser. I felt sure that on a previous Dell that we had in, the white (main) lettering was visibly raised (you can only tell from the photo I took that the red writing is raised, and that is very unlikely to be laser). Certainly with the Dell we had in the other day (E6530), you could feel the raised lettering, but it looked flat.

One pertinent question is this: if it's not pad printing and it's not silkscreen printing, how is the lettering of "UV printing" actually applied to the keycaps?
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Offline Burz

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #73 on: Tue, 05 November 2013, 11:19:17 »
Lenovo X230:
Show Image

The above keyboard is similar to the X220's in terms of keycap printing. The same keyboard is used on the T430 and W530; certainly the same technology on the previous models, X220, T420s& T420, W520

I believe those key caps are fairly unusual on recent Thinkpads... Non-backlit, right? The caps on my T430s backlit keyboard are the same shape, but there is none of the UV coating look. The printing looks like the HP you posted.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #74 on: Sat, 18 January 2014, 22:13:51 »
[note: moving my comment from http://geekhack.org/index.php?topic=47946 since this seems like a better place for it; for anyone who hasn’t read that thread, there’s a bunch of keycap related stuff that got mixed in.]

Since the legends will be printed/lasered, not double-shot, it should be theoretically to do custom designs with custom fonts/icons without any expensive tooling, right? Any chance we could order small-to-medium batches of caps with custom legend designs? (Or in other words, any idea what the MOQ would be for lasered/printed caps?) Also, what kinds of plastic colors can you handle? Thick PBT sounds lovely. Can you silkscreen/laser on the sides of caps, or just on the top?

Also, let me second the request for some kind of uniform-profile caps (i.e. all same-sized keys the same shape), if it’s possible to make them. The alps based projects I'm working on have quite unusual layouts that don't work too well with the standard set of cap profiles. It’s probably unlikely, but my favorite would be to see some spherical (like SP's SA row 3) caps.

Finally, it would be awesome to have some options for blanks!

Thanks! Keep up all the awesome work!
« Last Edit: Sat, 18 January 2014, 22:20:53 by jacobolus »

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #75 on: Sat, 18 January 2014, 22:37:56 »
Since the legends will be printed/lasered, not double-shot, it should be theoretically to do custom designs with custom fonts/icons without any expensive tooling, right?

Lasering requires no tooling.  It's just a matter of setting up the machine.  For printing, we'd need to have film made.



Any chance we could order small-to-medium batches of caps with custom legend designs? (Or in other words, any idea what the MOQ would be for lasered/printed caps?) Also, what kinds of plastic colors can you handle? Thick PBT sounds lovely. Can you silkscreen/laser on the sides of caps, or just on the top?

Current plan is to do Black, White, and Red caps. Red may be limited to a few specific caps.  In the past, we've only printed on top.



Also, let me second the request for some kind of uniform-profile caps (i.e. all same-sized keys the same shape), if it’s possible to make them. The alps based projects I'm working on have quite unusual layouts that don't work too well with the standard set of cap profiles. It’s probably unlikely, but my favorite would be to see some spherical (like SP's SA row 3) caps.

You can get uniform caps simply by using all R1 keys (bottom row).  All keycap sizes are available in R1.



Finally, it would be awesome to have some options for blanks!

Blanks are easy.  We can certainly make those available.



Thanks! Keep up all the awesome work!

Thanks!

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #76 on: Wed, 22 January 2014, 01:50:29 »
One more question, though maybe it can’t be answered yet.. What are the switches like on the reduced-size arrow/etc. keys on the upcoming ergo board? Do they still use an alps mount? Seems like a typical Alps-alike switch is going to be at least a bit too big to fit under that amount of space. If it’s a unique switch / unique keycap, would some of those be for sale, and would the keycaps be compatible with any earlier switches, e.g. the old half-depth linear Alps switches used on some laptops?

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #77 on: Wed, 22 January 2014, 02:58:08 »
One more question, though maybe it can’t be answered yet.. What are the switches like on the reduced-size arrow/etc. keys on the upcoming ergo board? Do they still use an alps mount? Seems like a typical Alps-alike switch is going to be at least a bit too big to fit under that amount of space. If it’s a unique switch / unique keycap, would some of those be for sale, and would the keycaps be compatible with any earlier switches, e.g. the old half-depth linear Alps switches used on some laptops?

The switches are exactly the same as the others.

Vertically, they are mounted right up against each other, to accommodate the tighter 0.75u vertical spacing.  Horizontal spacing is standard.

The keycaps will be available for sale as soon as we have the tooling done.  They will fit any ALPS-compatible switches.


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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #78 on: Wed, 22 January 2014, 04:31:51 »
Awesome. Thanks for the answers.

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #79 on: Wed, 22 January 2014, 08:04:49 »
The keycaps will be available for sale as soon as we have the tooling done.  They will fit any ALPS-compatible switches.

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #80 on: Wed, 22 January 2014, 08:13:32 »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #81 on: Wed, 22 January 2014, 23:08:16 »
Yeah, I’ve been curious for a long time about whether a keyboard would work if most of the keys were about 75-80% as deep (front-back distance) as the normal square format. I think it might be possible to fit keys into a smaller space, or fit more of them in the same space and still have everything reachable. [Of course, this would take some getting used to for a user, but I expect not too long.]

In other words, it would be interesting to try to make a full keyboard out of just the reduced-depth keys.

Offline dorkvader

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #82 on: Thu, 23 January 2014, 23:06:22 »
Yeah, I’ve been curious for a long time about whether a keyboard would work if most of the keys were about 75-80% as deep (front-back distance) as the normal square format. I think it might be possible to fit keys into a smaller space, or fit more of them in the same space and still have everything reachable. [Of course, this would take some getting used to for a user, but I expect not too long.]

In other words, it would be interesting to try to make a full keyboard out of just the reduced-depth keys.
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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #83 on: Thu, 23 January 2014, 23:23:06 »
Yeah, I’ve been curious for a long time about whether a keyboard would work if most of the keys were about 75-80% as deep (front-back distance) as the normal square format. I think it might be possible to fit keys into a smaller space, or fit more of them in the same space and still have everything reachable. [Of course, this would take some getting used to for a user, but I expect not too long.]

In other words, it would be interesting to try to make a full keyboard out of just the reduced-depth keys.
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There's been research done on this.  The safe limit seems to be 17mm horizontal x 16mm vertical spacing.






Offline jacobolus

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #84 on: Thu, 23 January 2014, 23:43:57 »
I’m not too convinced by the few papers I’ve seen though. They stuck with the same basic keyboard layout, and just changed the key shape. My in-progress prototype has a finger section that looks like this (ignore the specific keycaps; they just happened to be from the right rows from an old Apple donor keyboard):

With this layout, every key is very easily reachable with no overall hand movement or wrist twisting required.

I think such a layout would work pretty well with keycaps the size of the new ones from the Matias ergo board, and then could fit an extra row of keys in the same space (and therefore still reachable). But it would take some testing, for sure
« Last Edit: Fri, 24 January 2014, 00:03:13 by jacobolus »

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #85 on: Fri, 24 January 2014, 00:19:33 »
I’m not too convinced by the few papers I’ve seen though. They stuck with the same basic keyboard layout, and just changed the key shape. My in-progress prototype has a finger section that looks like this (ignore the specific keycaps; they just happened to be from the right rows from an old Apple donor keyboard):
Show Image

With this layout, every key is very easily reachable with no overall hand movement or wrist twisting required.

Yeah, their research would probably not apply in this situation.



I think such a layout would work pretty well with keycaps the size of the new ones from the Matias ergo board, and then could fit an extra row of keys in the same space (and therefore still reachable). But it would take some testing, for sure

You could do a quick & dirty test by mounting just the switches (no caps) onto a piece of cardboard (double-sided tape is your friend :thumb: ) at your desired spacing, and then try typing on the stems.

The top of the stems would be a placeholder for the caps.

« Last Edit: Fri, 24 January 2014, 00:23:55 by Matias »

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #86 on: Mon, 17 February 2014, 20:31:47 »
Since the legends will be printed/lasered, not double-shot, it should be theoretically to do custom designs with custom fonts/icons without any expensive tooling, right?
Lasering requires no tooling.  It's just a matter of setting up the machine.  For printing, we'd need to have film made.
It’s probably too early to say here, but do you have any idea what the MOQ / prices would be for custom-legend caps, either for lasering or for printing? If figuring that out is a few months away, no worries.

Also, what would be the best way to make the designs for those? Could some kind of template PDF file (or whatever) be set up for folks to use in setting up a design? Also, are there any licensing issues around the fonts that could be used? For example, could you folks print legends using fonts that ship with OS X, or does that require some special dispensation from a font foundry? (Specifically, the Avenir Next font that now ships with OS X has great support for small caps, old-style numbers, and a bunch of fun symbols, and I think it could be used as the basis for some really sweet legends)

I’d be happy to help set up some templates/etc. if that would be helpful, if you have a format that would be most useful to submit, and if there are known parameters for what the size/shape of the key tops should look like in a design file to properly transfer to actual use. [I’m not exactly clear how it works to transfer a 2-dimensional design to curved key tops, etc.]

Your planned thick PBT Alps caps look like they should feel better than can be obtained from other vendors these days, so I’d love to help make them look better too, and help any community design projects along. For instance, I’d be happy to design some nice custom legends for the group-buy 60% board you’ve been talking about (even though I don’t particularly want one of those myself :).

Offline jacobolus

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #87 on: Sun, 16 March 2014, 02:34:55 »
The keycaps will be available for sale as soon as we have the tooling done.  They will fit any ALPS-compatible switches.
Just out of curiosity, is there any publicly mentionable ETA on the tooling? I guess we know it should at least be “before august”. :-)

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #88 on: Sun, 16 March 2014, 04:14:23 »
The keycaps will be available for sale as soon as we have the tooling done.  They will fit any ALPS-compatible switches.
Just out of curiosity, is there any publicly mentionable ETA on the tooling? I guess we know it should at least be “before august”. :-)


Short answer...  before August for keys needed for the Ergo Pro.

Longer answer...  We're doing the tooling in stages.  We've never done PBT injection before, and it's a little tricky for longer keys like the spacebar, so we're tooling those first.


Offline jacobolus

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #89 on: Mon, 17 March 2014, 03:43:23 »
Awesome, thanks! Good luck with the tooling.

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #90 on: Mon, 17 March 2014, 14:17:25 »
So the aftermarket caps Matias will be selling are going to be PBT?
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #91 on: Mon, 17 March 2014, 14:58:45 »
That’s what he’s said above. It sounds like nice thick PBT, in black, white, and maybe some in red, with various different sizes of spacebars available (sounds like those will also be PBT?), laser or some fancy durable kind of printing, and some interesting new keycap shapes needed for their ergo board. Very promising.

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #92 on: Mon, 17 March 2014, 15:00:23 »
There goes my hope that I could cut out all PBT caps except for IBM boards. Oh well, despite the fact I don't really like PBT, aftermarket Alps caps are sorely needed. I was asking for confirmation.
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #93 on: Tue, 18 March 2014, 01:36:37 »
Yes, the new caps are thick PBT.

The old caps will still be available in thin ABS for those who are into that.


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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #94 on: Tue, 18 March 2014, 19:57:43 »
Longer answer...  We're doing the tooling in stages.  We've never done PBT injection before, and it's a little tricky for longer keys like the spacebar, so we're tooling those first.

Sweet at least you guys are doing PBT spacebar.  Most company just cheap out on spacebar because PBT spacebar is too hard to make (warping).

And my birthday is in August.  Perfect time to get myself some PBT keycaps.  :D

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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #95 on: Tue, 18 March 2014, 21:49:46 »
Yes, this is new territory for us, on multiple levels -- so we are proceeding with a little caution.  Pretty exciting stuff, though.  :-)


Offline QuadGMoto

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #96 on: Fri, 21 March 2014, 11:34:51 »
What's "UV printing"? No-one has actually defined it yet. The only thing defined is that certain unspecified substances alter upon exposure to UV light to some unspecified degree of hardness, and that one or more of these substances are transparent and can be used as a protective layer above pad printing. SP's pad printing is epoxy+ink, with optional UV "selective image" ("decal") clear coating or all-over spray coating. (I don't know if "selective image" is an industry term or not.)

In another thread I saw a video someone posted about "UV printing" being used to print graphics on Zippo style lighters. There was an actual print head moving back and forth over the tray of lighters, acting almost exactly like inkjet printing using inks that could be UV hardened. A UV light source was also part of the print head assembly.

So that's what I think of when thinking of "UV printing", though the method of applying the ink can obviously vary. It seems to me that a setup like that could be ideal for a custom key caps company. Though I could imagine the curve of the key caps and varying profiles could play merry hob with proper focus of the ink jets.

Offline intelli78

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #97 on: Tue, 01 April 2014, 04:25:12 »
Yes, the new caps are thick PBT.

Can't wait for replacement sets for the Mini models.
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Offline jacobolus

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #98 on: Wed, 09 April 2014, 18:07:02 »
As soon as I can grab some Alps 2.75x spacebars, I’ll try to start making stuff like:

and


Small spacebars are the best. :-)
« Last Edit: Wed, 09 April 2014, 18:08:46 by jacobolus »

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #99 on: Thu, 08 May 2014, 17:12:24 »
Yes, the new caps are thick PBT.

The old caps will still be available in thin ABS for those who are into that.

I think you have already answered this, but I just wanted to double check.

Will you guys be selling these new PBT key caps separately also?
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