Author Topic: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets  (Read 11990 times)

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Offline fkcaps

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[IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 02:02:49 »
Hi,

First post here, I hope this falls in the "Interest checks" category I was not 100% sure...

I have discovered the amazing mech keyboards community last year and have loved the whole experience, digging deeper and deeper in the rabbit hole that seems to never end!

Having started with an UHK, after programming the different layouts, I wanted to upgrade the keycaps to a nice set such as the ones I see on Reddit. I stumbled on a major pain point being non-standard keycaps size... I couldn't believe it was so difficult to find its weird keycaps sizes and how expensive it was to get these small pieces of plastics...

The developer/entrepreneur in me was telling me to start something to fill this gap, but I wanted to make sure I was really solving a problem, so I have watched silently the whole keycaps game for months and came up with a solution that I would like to propose to you all today, and check your interest in depth with a quick poll.

Problem(s)

"Classic" keycaps group buys (where a designer proposes a set and matches with vendors and buyers to make it happen) have a few flaws that could be improved :

Time sensitive: Buying in a GB can be missed for so many reasons. Also the time from an IC to the actual keycaps delivery is way too long for impatient folks like myself for are used/addicted to Amazon Prime (one may argue that good things come to those who wait and would probably be right).

Aftermarket is supposed to be the solution when missing a GB, but this system has been abused recently, and tbh watching constantly r/mechmarket to look out for sets is not a great experience imho.

Custom layouts and additional kits: the UHK for instance (and many custom layouts out there), never matches any base kit, so I would need additional kits if I wanted to get a full set. Prices add up, and I end up with a ton of keycaps I don't use and can't really resell as it would dissociate my keycaps set. This is frustrating and very costly (if I ever get my hands on a kit that exactly matches my layout...).

GB process: the GB process is quite complicated and even though GMK has made it much easier, it is still complicated to run China-based GBs so we are basically stuck with ABS Cherry (which are very nice, but some design diversity could be nice right?). It is also stressful for the person running the GB, and for the buyers that may worry when the GB runner is not responding for too long...

Solution?

On the design/customization part of things, I am an experienced web developer, and building a customization platform is an awesome challenge that I am happily taking as we speak.

On the production side, I have teamed up with a friend that has worked in the sublimation and customization industry (not keebs related), and we are setting up a shop (in his basement for now!). We have looked into the different plastic injection and keycaps production processes and have been experimenting with the machines necessary to industrialize dye sublimation. This experimentation is still in progress but by the time this IC is over we will hopefully have our first trials finished successfully.

We are aiming to provide a dye sub service to produce unique, custom keycaps sets with no MoQ. Anyone would design his/her own custom keycaps set on the website, to match a specific layout and colorway, cherry-pick novelties or even use a specific virtual layout. This is challenging in so many ways, but we have been dedicating time and money to this idea for a few months now, and won't stop until we have something out there. This IC intends to clarify for us what the community needs, especially regarding:
- favorite keycaps profiles (we will probably start with only one, to extend later on)
- the weird keycaps sizes you can't find and are desperately looking for
- the weird virtual layouts you are looking for too (I used to type on French ISO, and this is actually impossible to find)
- the designs and designers you would like to see featured

Well it's all in the poll, so please take a few minutes to let us know your needs!

Concept and core values

Quality is the first word that comes to mind. We want our product to be the best (who doesn't?) and have started in this mindset by carefully selecting blank keycaps suppliers. From what we have seen, ePBT sets are the best quality (for PBT, ABS can't be dye-subbed anyway so we don't even look into it), but we haven't been able to find their suppliers (yet) so we will either find the supplier(s) (PM if you have a contact!) or produce our own moulds (we are in contact with a great manufacturer). The latter would be costly but ultimately worth it since we would be in control of the keycaps quality, production and prices.

Usability is the biggest challenge we have ahead of us. The website development is really complicated, and I have high standards of UX. I want/need to make your keycaps customization experience modern and satisfying, by avoiding as much frustration as possible. The website has to make it easy for anyone to use an existing board layout, or make his own layout, and apply a keycaps design to it. It should also be easy for designers to prepare design kits/themes, I can expand on that in another post but if you are a designer and would like to jump in, just PM.

Beautiful designs are of course mandatory, the keycaps have to be beautiful, but also match your tastes, as weird as they may be (we don't judge!). We will work hand in hand with designers to provide what's best out there. We would also like to propose existing designs, if the author is OK with it.

Price and greed

While we want to run a viable business, we won't let greed set our prices. Keycaps are very expensive, way too much imo, and we would like to ultimately offer them at a lower price point than what is actually out there. It is possible in theory, and I say ultimately because we will have a few things to figure out first:
- Investment is quite costly. We are investing the bootstrap money to get the idea tested and produce our first sets, but will probably buy the rest of the equipment by running a first batch, crowdfunded by the community (just like a GB basically).
- In this customization business, automating processes is the key to low prices. Once everything runs well (the website is bug-free, the order process is flawless and the production tools run smoothly) we can have a good estimate of our actual costs and adapt our pricing to this. It should hopefully take 6 to 12 months.
- Production will start in France, moving to Asia would definetely help us lower the price, but we have to make sure the quality is perfect, and have sufficient volume to open a shop there.

This won't happen overnight but we have managed to allow ourselves some time and money to get things going and hopefully if we get support from the community we can get this thing running.

We also plan to set a designer fee on each keycaps set. There are so many talented people out there, and we intend to give them a fair reward for what they do. I have been in touch with one of the main designers out there (I don't know if he is okay with me quoting him so I won't), and am looking forward to hear from other designers to test out the platform that will be soft launched to designers only.

What's coming up?

Here is how we plan to make it happen:

Currently
- Keep looking for blank keycaps suppliers. If you have any contact/information, please let me know. We are focusing on Cherry profile for now, unless the poll proves us wrong. We could also set an MOQ to produce our own moulds, so take the poll to vote for your favorite!
- Prepare the website
- Set up production shop and processes

Phase 1: Soft launch

- Open up an alpha version of the platform to designers and adjust the design tooling to fit their needs
- Make sure we have enough designs for the public launch
- Add as many keyboard layouts as possible

Phase 2: "Batch zero"

The first batch will be called "Batch Zero" and will allow us to bootstrap the business by paying up for the investment costs we have had, place our first keycaps order, and make sure my friend can quit his job to work on production full time (he has a back up plan if this fails!).
We will take our first orders at this point, cash them in and place our own blank keycaps orders. Depending on the number of orders we should be able to produce them in 2-4 months as soon as we get the keycaps (which could take 1-3 months depending if we find a reliable source or need to make our moulds).

Phase 3: store is open!

Once all "Batch Zero" orders are fulfilled, we are in business! At this point the website will start taking regular orders and we will be in a permanent improvement, until we manage to have smooth production processes and orders.
If we ever reach this point, *our dream has come true*: we can work on our hobby full time. It is going to be a tough ride, but we have had some tougher ones, and the mech community is so full of loving and caring people, my bet is as soon as you get your hands on those beautiful custom keysets, it will be only rainbows and unicorns.

Answer the poll

Again, please take a few minutes to answer the poll!

Btw we won't use your answers and email addresses for anything else than making sure we deliver the best dye sub service we can.

Thanks for reading all of this, sorry it came out way too long, but there was a lot to say! We hope to hear from you and drop any questions right here :)
« Last Edit: Tue, 18 June 2019, 02:04:42 by fkcaps »

Offline lolafineday

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #1 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 06:14:03 »
This is super interesting. I'm definitely interested

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Offline EMC Labs

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #2 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 06:27:35 »
Nice!

Offline moh18one

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #3 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 06:42:45 »
I don't know  whether it's possible but DSS is probably th most interesting profile out there. It solves what I hate about cherry. Convex keycaps are the best!

Bonne chance pour votre projet. (membre du forum hardware clavier mécanique ?)

Offline dexie

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #4 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 07:21:47 »
This exact service is already available here http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/keycap-set/104-key-cherry-mx-keycap-set.html .

"Keyset on demand" sound awesome, however I don't think it is easily achievable. Group Buys exist for a reason, and if overturning the market would be possible easy, big players such as Drop/GMK/ePBT would have done it already.

To comment your researches - ePBT actually is a keycap producer. They make their own "blanks" and then dye sub and QA them, themselves. QA as far as I know takes the most resources, as you need to manually inspect thousands of different keycaps, making sure they follow whatever standards.

Good luck, I am really curios what this will bring to.
« Last Edit: Tue, 18 June 2019, 07:23:31 by dexie »
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Offline equalunique

  • Posts: 533
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #5 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 07:34:44 »
Exciting concept!

For example there are cherry-profile PBT ErgoDox sets sold by YMDK & I would really like one with custom dye sub.

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Offline Glory Lion

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #6 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 09:16:03 »
Super interesting. I’m following


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Offline fkcaps

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #7 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 09:22:13 »
Thanks for the feedback!

Quote
"Keyset on demand" sound awesome, however I don't think it is easily achievable. Group Buys exist for a reason, and if overturning the market would be possible easy, big players such as Drop/GMK/ePBT would have done it already.

It definitely is not easily achievable. I am facing quite a lot of technical challenges already but they are being solved, one after the other. My guess is that big players either haven't thought about it, or didn't see the investment to be worth it. I am investing a lot of dev time but this project would be a nightmare if we were to hire a contractor to do it.

WASD requires some Illustrator skills, while we aim to offer a very simple UI for a very high end result.

Quote
ePBT actually is a keycap producer

Thank you for the input, that is what I thought. This is why KBDFans wouldn't sell me their blank keycaps in bulk... If anyone has a contact this could help us get started without paying new moulds upfront.

Quote
For example there are cherry-profile PBT ErgoDox sets sold by YMDK & I would really like one with custom dye sub.

Ergodox are a very good example of keyboards that could use this service. Getting keycaps whose legend matches its keycode could be life changing for these keyboards...

Offline E.E.L. Ambiense

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #8 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 09:53:25 »
This exact service is already available here http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/keycap-set/104-key-cherry-mx-keycap-set.html

Acually, that's pad/UV printed, not dye-subbed.  Big difference, considering pad tends to wear down pretty quickly.  They look pretty good when done, but the caps leave a lot to be desired taking into consideration the profile and thickness (or lack thereof) with the blank caps they offer. 

I'm one of the freelance designers that works with WASD, but dye-sub is really where it's at considering it's permanent.  I've been researching into offering this very same service and due to the costs and time associated with it I have basically back-burnered it.  I just have way too many other things going on.  I'm glad to see someone with the cojones to try this is stepping up and giving it a go.  I for one will utilize the service, especially for custom one-offs for PC modding clients I handle.  It's a nice add-on peripheral sale too!    Good luck, guys.  If you need a beta-testing designer to whip up something, hit me up!
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Offline megaforce

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #9 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 11:34:55 »
and thus a new copy pasta is born

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Offline Warrenified

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #10 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 12:48:12 »
Doesn't seem sustainable in the long run, but it's an exciting concept and I hope it works out!

Offline IOVERCALLHISTIOCYTES

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #11 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 13:23:42 »
I macro the hell out of things and would love to have my own abbreviations on the caps. I have a pile of relegendables from the SkIIdata group buy which was my other plan.

Offline nuclear_wizard

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #12 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 13:34:38 »
DiSrUpTiNg ThE kEyCaP iNdUsTrY

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Offline dexie

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #13 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 15:04:43 »
WASD requires some Illustrator skills, while we aim to offer a very simple UI for a very high end result.

That's not true. You can pre-select your keyboard layout and color keycaps whatever color you like, choose whatever font you like, and even choose funky layout, without any special tools, just from the website, even from your phone.

For custom keycaps/layouts there's already pretty big infrastructure available. For customizing layouts there's KLE (http://www.keyboard-layout-editor.com/) already available, where you can make any layout, specify any legend styles, keycap colors and profiles. Then there is https://kle-render.herokuapp.com/ which relies on KLE, and also many other services which use KLE format. I think you should not focus on making simple UI first, and just allow inputting KLE. After all setting up a website is not the hardest part, delivering dye subs on demand is.

Acually, that's pad/UV printed, not dye-subbed.  Big difference, considering pad tends to wear down pretty quickly.  They look pretty good when done, but the caps leave a lot to be desired taking into consideration the profile and thickness (or lack thereof) with the blank caps they offer. 

There is a reason they do not offer dye sublimation. Dye sublimation can't deliver all color combinations (lighter ink can't go on darker). Dye sublimation is way harder to do "without human participation" and harder to do on the mass scale, that's why dye subs has the highest error rates during production. You can lookup reviews on cheap noname dye-subs on tao/ali to see how legends tend to "melt" and how hard is to get sharp and crisp sublimation. 


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Offline E.E.L. Ambiense

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #14 on: Tue, 18 June 2019, 15:09:04 »
There is a reason they do not offer dye sublimation. Dye sublimation can't deliver all color combinations (lighter ink can't go on darker). Dye sublimation is way harder to do "without human participation" and harder to do on the mass scale, that's why dye subs has the highest error rates during production. You can lookup reviews on cheap noname dye-subs on tao/ali to see how legends tend to "melt" and how hard is to get sharp and crisp sublimation.

Correct.  But I'd much rather have good dye-subbed caps than worrying about colors.  That's coming from someone who has a long background in textile industries, and also has a few sets of 'cheapie' dye-subbed caps (awful, lol).
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Offline harlekein

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #15 on: Wed, 19 June 2019, 02:31:57 »
I was going to say "In before the fanboys defending exorbitant GMK/SP prices", but I'm too late.

Offline fkcaps

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #16 on: Thu, 20 June 2019, 03:12:49 »
Quote
Good luck, guys.  If you need a beta-testing designer to whip up something, hit me up!

Thanks, will do! I am actually getting the website ready for the first designers test so this will happen soon.

Quote
Dye sublimation can't deliver all color combinations (lighter ink can't go on darker)

It is possible using "reverse dye sub" which is the process of basically printing all colors on a white blank keycap. I assume it is a fairly new process and we will soon find out how good we can make it ourselves.
Regarding the concerns about the dye sub quality tending to melt, I can totally understand that. They end up like this because of bad QC of course, but a good amount of research has to be put into the sublimation process too. Again, we will find out soon enough if we are doing it right but my partner is an obsessional perfectionist, which tends to be annoying sometimes but will be a great help in this case since he is in charge of the production.

Offline dexie

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #17 on: Thu, 20 June 2019, 06:46:20 »
It is possible using "reverse dye sub"

Even conventional dye-subbing is highly manual task. Yes, reverse dye sub is possible, but it's a lot of job to do and achieving consistency requires a lot of resources.
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Offline sevenseacat

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #18 on: Fri, 21 June 2019, 08:35:42 »
I don't see how this can be financially feasible, but I'm interested.

You seem way too focused on the website part of it, which is the least important part. Get your tooling right and affordable first.

Offline Hak Foo

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #19 on: Fri, 21 June 2019, 23:02:21 »
My thought:  The value is custom dyesub services, not caps themselves.  There are plenty of good PBT caps available now.

Many who want custom designs are going to go completely hard-core with their selections.  They don't just want specific lettering, they want weird profiles, an odd 65-key layout, and/or odd mounts (Alps, Topre, Buckling Spring).  It may not be possible to supply matching caps for all those tastes. 

I'm going to level with you:  I'm in this boat-- I ordered the blank ALPS PBT caps off Massdrop and would love to get them custom dyesubbed, but the odds are very low that those caps will be in your catalog.

For that kind of one-off order, it might be worth offering a service for "send in (or have a third-party supplier drop ship in) the caps, and we'll dyesub at 50 cents per cap" and perhaps backing that with "if you don't have caps, we have 1-3 standard packs we can supply at a modest markup."  That avoids too much investment in slow-moving odd-sized caps.
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Offline MAR82

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #20 on: Thu, 27 June 2019, 03:52:56 »
For that kind of one-off order, it might be worth offering a service for "send in (or have a third-party supplier drop ship in) the caps, and we'll dyesub at 50 cents per cap" and perhaps backing that with "if you don't have caps, we have 1-3 standard packs we can supply at a modest markup."  That avoids too much investment in slow-moving odd-sized caps.

The problem with that is that as far as I know you need tooling for each different cap and profile. Since you are heating up the cap to apply the dye you need to make sure it doesn't warp. So making it possible to send in your caps wouldn't really work unless they already have that tooling and at that point I think they would also have the caps

Offline fkcaps

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #21 on: Tue, 02 July 2019, 03:47:48 »
Quote
You seem way too focused on the website part of it, which is the least important part. Get your tooling right and affordable first.

Thanks for the constructive opinion! The website is what we communicate on, but we are actually more focused on the tooling right now. We will communicate on that once we are satisfied by the dye sub quality we are getting.

Quote
For that kind of one-off order, it might be worth offering a service for "send in (or have a third-party supplier drop ship in) the caps, and we'll dyesub at 50 cents per cap" and perhaps backing that with "if you don't have caps, we have 1-3 standard packs we can supply at a modest markup."  That avoids too much investment in slow-moving odd-sized caps.

Like MAR82 stated above the tooling is specific for each keycap size and profile so we won't be able to dye sub "perfectly" any keycaps. This is one of the blockers, the others being: what if your keycaps get lost in the mail? We wouldn't forgive ourselves, and certainly won't expect you to...

The "expansion" plan is to start reasonably small with a popular profile (Cherry in this case, as the poll has confirmed) and then expand depending on what we believe to be the widest demand. To give you an idea, so far the poll has highlighted interest for:
- SA profile
- MT3 profile (not gonna happen since Drop apparently owns the moulds...)
- DSA profile
But also a strong interest for:
- Topre stems
- Alps stems
- Choc stems

I guess we will have to figure it out along the way by running some sort of GB that would pay for new moulds and dye sub tooling... For now we will focus on providing the best service and product, and hope for the best!

Offline EMC Labs

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #22 on: Tue, 02 July 2019, 04:14:12 »
Very interesting concept and operation. Would like to see how this turns out.

Offline cosmo10292

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #23 on: Mon, 29 July 2019, 18:19:19 »
I think this has the potential to be great! I'd love to browse a certain designers themes, chose one and create my own kit based on the alphas/modifiers/numpad/Novelties that id like for my keeb.


Offline ideus

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #24 on: Tue, 17 September 2019, 10:45:41 »
This exact service is already available here http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/keycap-set/104-key-cherry-mx-keycap-set.html .

"Keyset on demand" sound awesome, however I don't think it is easily achievable. Group Buys exist for a reason, and if overturning the market would be possible easy, big players such as Drop/GMK/ePBT would have done it already.

To comment your researches - ePBT actually is a keycap producer. They make their own "blanks" and then dye sub and QA them, themselves. QA as far as I know takes the most resources, as you need to manually inspect thousands of different keycaps, making sure they follow whatever standards.

Good luck, I am really curios what this will bring to.
WASD key caps and printing are of the lowest quality available in the market. This service is exactly the opposite.

Offline eskimojo

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #25 on: Tue, 17 September 2019, 10:48:32 »
To comment your researches - ePBT actually is a keycap producer. They make their own "blanks"

I don't think this is the case. I'm fairly certain that ePBT use Gateron blanks, but someone can correct me on this.

Offline dexie

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #26 on: Tue, 17 September 2019, 10:56:56 »
To comment your researches - ePBT actually is a keycap producer. They make their own "blanks"

I don't think this is the case. I'm fairly certain that ePBT use Gateron blanks, but someone can correct me on this.

Yes, you are right. Gateron produces PBT blanks, and ePBT dye-subs it. Gaterons blanks have also been used by IMSTO.
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Offline badboy731

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #27 on: Tue, 17 September 2019, 13:22:23 »
I wish you luck! Will be following
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Offline ullr

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #28 on: Tue, 17 September 2019, 15:00:54 »
If I could get DSA or MT3 caps dye subbed for $2-2.50 each (total, if I have to mail my own blanks I'd hope for <$2 ea.) with good, consistent, centered, sharp legends... Then I'd buy a set. Bonus points for 2-4 colors per cap.

Offline Sifo

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #29 on: Tue, 17 September 2019, 15:03:12 »
To comment your researches - ePBT actually is a keycap producer. They make their own "blanks"

I don't think this is the case. I'm fairly certain that ePBT use Gateron blanks, but someone can correct me on this.

Yes, you are right. Gateron produces PBT blanks, and ePBT dye-subs it. Gaterons blanks have also been used by IMSTO.

ePBT makes their own caps now. they used to use gateron
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Offline 4sStylZ

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #30 on: Tue, 15 October 2019, 04:43:35 »
I am dreaming about some keycap sets design so count me in.
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Offline Deadboy

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #31 on: Thu, 24 October 2019, 01:16:40 »
Let's see where this goes!

Offline steezkeez

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Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #32 on: Thu, 24 October 2019, 04:16:54 »
There's an old saying...



Tempering my expectations but wishing you luck!

Offline MdotMaxson

  • Posts: 261
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #33 on: Sat, 26 October 2019, 03:36:06 »
I truely hope you disrupt GMKs selfish money grab on this industry. The fact so many keyboards don’t get support because “GMK doesn’t prefer small kits. We need to bend over and work with their really big and really expensive base kit and then really gouge the eyes out of anyone with one of those non standard boards by making them buy 50 keys they don’t need in the base kit and charging them triple for the 6 keys they need for ortho. “

That’s the beauty of non corporate capitalism. Someone can take advantage of the market demand only so long before someone comes along and does it right. GMK is arguably a big corporation, but this market is too small currently for doing ugly corporate things like buying entire company’s that produce electric car battery’s and then destroy them to keep people dependent on oil.

Offline Nonnegaard

  • Posts: 66
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #34 on: Thu, 30 January 2020, 03:19:57 »
Depending on the quality of keycaps and international shipping prices, this could be the end of GMK.

Offline Tonkatonk

  • Posts: 107
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #35 on: Thu, 30 January 2020, 08:37:01 »
Depending on the quality of keycaps and international shipping prices, this could be the end of GMK.

Nice.


Noxary PC268.2 | Nunu

Offline DukeEsquire

  • Posts: 438
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #36 on: Thu, 30 January 2020, 12:14:04 »
"It definitely is not easily achievable. I am facing quite a lot of technical challenges already but they are being solved, one after the other. My guess is that big players either haven't thought about it, or didn't see the investment to be worth it. I am investing a lot of dev time but this project would be a nightmare if we were to hire a contractor to do it."

This statement is ridiculous.

The fact of the matter is that it requires a ton of investment in order to do what you're proposing and the return is not high.

Offline nuclear_wizard

  • Posts: 116
  • Location: Eastern Idaho
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #37 on: Thu, 30 January 2020, 12:23:47 »
Seeing as OP's last reply/update was last July, people coming here and commenting like this is still something that will happen seems ridiculous to me. I'd love to be proved wrong, but it doesn't seem like there's been much movement on this...

Offline fkcaps

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 27
    • FKcaps
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #38 on: Thu, 30 January 2020, 13:07:19 »
For some weird reason, Tapatalk didn't notify me of the recent comments, so sorry if I have been silent!

Depending on the quality of keycaps and international shipping prices, this could be the end of GMK.

To be clear, I don't think this is the end of GMK. We don't even want that actually. They do have a bit of a monopoly lately but they do make high quality doubleshot keycaps, and are very tied to the community. I don't see them going anywhere, but we will certainly add a new option, definitely more flexible thanks to dye sublimation. The more variety of choice the better, right?!

The fact of the matter is that it requires a ton of investment in order to do what you're proposing and the return is not high.

It does require a significant investment, both in time and money, and we have been making it over the past months. To be honest we haven't kept up at full steam all the time because over such a long period we have had some moments when we needed to focus on other things. We have actually had a break through last week. I won't comment any further, but I am genuinely sorry I have announced it so early. While I am thrilled to see this thread is still being discussed, I apologize for creating expectations at such an early stage of the process.

Best thing to do to follow up and be notified as soon as we launch is to subscribe to the mailing list (hint: we may do an early launch for subscribers).

Offline nathanchere

  • Posts: 472
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #39 on: Thu, 30 January 2020, 13:36:44 »
This exact service is already available here http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/keycap-set/104-key-cherry-mx-keycap-set.html .
WASD quality is garbage though - both the caps and the printing.

Offline dexie

  • Posts: 75
  • Location: Riga, Latvia
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #40 on: Thu, 30 January 2020, 14:03:40 »
This exact service is already available here http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/keycap-set/104-key-cherry-mx-keycap-set.html .
WASD quality is garbage though - both the caps and the printing.
Yeah, so what? I don't see how that argument justifies this guy's idea. There exists literally the same service as he described, which already pretty much covers low-end market for cheap and customized keycaps (check how many posts there are daily on reddit). The guy promises to do the same thing, but in higher quality and lesser price. Well, I guess wasd keyboards are just moneygrabs, who intentionally stagnate the market by not improving the quality of custom on-demand keycaps. Why don't all the other keycap producers just produce keysets faster? Ah, good old cartel agreement between all of them?

It's been half of a year already, but his friend in a basement never provided any prototypes/samples. There have been almost zero news since this thread was created, except for a beta-test of a cool website. It's not like a web-developer can singlehandedly overturn a game, I honestly think that he is being delusional, and the sooner he realises that, the better it is.

Sent from my SM-G965F using Tapatalk

ISO Life

Offline nathanchere

  • Posts: 472
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #41 on: Thu, 30 January 2020, 14:58:10 »
This exact service is already available here http://www.wasdkeyboards.com/index.php/products/keycap-set/104-key-cherry-mx-keycap-set.html .
WASD quality is garbage though - both the caps and the printing.
Yeah, so what? I don't see how that argument justifies this guy's idea. There exists literally the same service as he described, which already pretty much covers low-end market for cheap and customized keycaps (check how many posts there are daily on reddit). The guy promises to do the same thing, but in higher quality and lesser price. Well, I guess wasd keyboards are just moneygrabs, who intentionally stagnate the market by not improving the quality of custom on-demand keycaps. Why don't all the other keycap producers just produce keysets faster? Ah, good old cartel agreement between all of them?

It's been half of a year already, but his friend in a basement never provided any prototypes/samples. There have been almost zero news since this thread was created, except for a beta-test of a cool website. It's not like a web-developer can singlehandedly overturn a game, I honestly think that he is being delusional, and the sooner he realises that, the better it is.

Sent from my SM-G965F using Tapatalk

Maybe you're right. Maybe they won't achieve anything here, and of course it's not going to DiSrUpT tHe KeYBoArD InDuStRy etc. But I have no problem with someone with an optimistic vision which doesn't end up going anywhere as long as no-one else is impacted along the way. At least they're not screwing people out of money along the road to non-delivery like e.g. Greenwald Designs or Bunnylake. If it works out and they start doing what they plan - great. If not - there'll always be a dozen new GMK Uninspiro sets with token matching desk mats to look forward to each month.

Offline DukeEsquire

  • Posts: 438
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #42 on: Thu, 30 January 2020, 15:32:29 »
TheVanKeyboards tried to raise $500,000 to create keycaps. I think that's realistic and the number might actually be higher.


Unless OP just has that money lying around, this isn't happening.

Offline Andrago

  • Posts: 10
  • Hobbyist from Singapore!
    • Github
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #43 on: Sun, 23 February 2020, 10:48:36 »
Really cool idea, not hating on GMK but I think ideas like this will help the community in terms of variety and demand/supply.
Cheers!


Offline fkcaps

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 27
    • FKcaps
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #44 on: Sun, 23 February 2020, 12:13:23 »
Thanks for the positive words and support, it does help <3

Offline Hoipolloi

  • Posts: 10
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #45 on: Tue, 25 February 2020, 08:18:42 »
Sounds amazing! Probably will encounter lots of problems but please don’t give up on this project!

Offline Bax

  • Posts: 21
  • Location: Croatia
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #46 on: Sat, 18 April 2020, 12:25:50 »
Answered the poll and following.

Offline peepeepants

  • Posts: 2
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #47 on: Thu, 30 April 2020, 20:28:35 »
are there any plans to invest in actual injection molding equipment to compete with GMK's doubleshot quality?

Offline ramnes

  • Posts: 835
  • Location: France
  • T fou, mec?
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #48 on: Fri, 11 September 2020, 15:30:28 »
What's up dudes?
23h18 - photekq: hhkb with silenced realforce sliders and lubricated well is
23h18 - photekq: the best switch i've used

Offline Owl

  • Posts: 102
  • Location: United States
Re: [IC] Unique custom keycap sets
« Reply #49 on: Fri, 11 September 2020, 21:56:45 »
All of your proposed solutions certainly are things we need in the community. As a keycap designer, nothing would make me happier than being able to get designs to market quicker while charging my customers less for excellent quality caps. I stand behind my designs but I still don't feel comfortable expecting people to pay $100+ for a base kit, 20% or more of which they won't even use.

It's no secret that GMK is more than capable of cutting costs and offering better and more personalized deals based on the traffic that this community has given them. The "point of sale" company excuse died years ago. However the concerns that others have brought up are valid. If it were such a good idea, why hasn't Drop.com done it? Or any of the other big vendors with the resources to give it a shot? The fact of the matter is, GMK has no competition. They have no reason to lower prices to stay competitive. And I am sure there is a good reason for that. I am sure the folks at Drop.com or anyone else for that matter would love to compete with them and take their customers. But why bother? Those entities benefit just as much from the outrageous prices as GMK does because royalties are percentages. So you are better off being a vendor than a competitor financially speaking. And YET, vendors still struggle to pay their bills. Yeah maybe not Drop.com. But the rest are operating on hairline margins. I can not begin to imagine what kind of investment would be required to go toe to toe in manufacturing with GMK. I can tell you that I hope it happens for the sake of designers and customers alike! But it's a long shot.

So my criticism with your proposal is that, you would have to do what GMK does but better. color accurate, crisp doubleshot ABS. Producing high quality dye subs is great but you're competition is really only the PBT manufacturers. And their sets don't contribute anything to the negative mechmarket experience or the aftermarket prices for caps that the community is concerned about. And this won't effect GMK in the slightest because people still want doubleshot ABS for all the benefits it has to offer. I mean as an IC, yes, of course we are all interested. Obviously everyone wishes for what you say you can offer. And I am all for more options in the market so that people on a budget can get quality caps for their first builds or even endgame builds. And maybe you can offer that. But I am very skeptical that you can actually solve GMK price gauging and aftermarket price gauging for the quality of caps that people want to put on their Keycults. I hope it happens and I will be looking out for your updates. I would love to be a designer that participates in something so beneficial for the community. But the only way I see it being really competitive is if you overthrow the plastic lords themselves and that is not going to be easy. Best of luck though.

EDIT:

oops didnt realize this was a necro post lol. First time seeing it. Well the silence speaks for itself.
« Last Edit: Fri, 11 September 2020, 22:00:19 by Owl »