Author Topic: Whatís the typical production method for keycaps?  (Read 1328 times)

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.

Offline Shpigford

  • Thread Starter
  • Posts: 3
  • Location: Birmingham, AL, USA
    • joshpigford.com
Whatís the typical production method for keycaps?
« on: Wed, 06 May 2020, 09:07:53 »
Is it always injection molding? Some other method?

Obviously thereís hobby-level hand-painting and resin but Iím talking about producing, at the very least, a full set of keycaps from scratch.

Thinking about building or buying a really basic injection molding machine, but want to get my head wrapped around the general process first.

Offline Hyde

  • Posts: 2640
  • Location: Toronto, Canada
  • White Tofu Extraordinaire
Re: Whatís the typical production method for keycaps?
« Reply #1 on: Wed, 06 May 2020, 19:54:44 »
Yeah injection molding is the most common way, if you flip the keycap over you can usually see the spruce mark at the back side.

Though these days I think double shot ABS or dye sub PBT are the most common methods, both are injection molded.

Also depending on how many units do you plan to produce, it's always cheaper / easier to just buy the keycap you want unless you want to mass produce it.

But even so it might also cheaper to hire someone else to do it for you.

Archiss ProgresTouch Retro - Gateron Yellow  |  Topre Realforce 104UW - 45g Silent  |  Topre Type Heaven  |  Beige Filco Ninja 104 - MX Red  |  Das Keyboard - MX Brown  |  Poker II - MX Red  |  Race II - MX Brown  |  Matias Quiet Pro - Matias Dampened ALPS  |  Logitech K840 - Romer G  |  Cherry MX Board 2.0 - MX Red  |  Cherry G84-4100 - ML  |  IBM Model M
Roccat Kone Pure  |  Logitech G203  |  Logitech G303  |  Logitech G302  |  Razer Naga  |  CM Storm Xornet  |  Razer Goliathus Mobile Stealth  |  Razer Goliathus Control  |  Artisan Hien  |  Artisan Hayate  |  Artisan Shiden

Offline pciuniek

  • Posts: 6
Re: Whatís the typical production method for keycaps?
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 08 May 2020, 14:56:27 »
Slightly off topic question but why is GMK the preferred producer of keycaps?

Offline abstractkb

  • Posts: 25
    • Abstract Keyboards Homepage
Re: Whatís the typical production method for keycaps?
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 08 May 2020, 20:04:38 »
Most commercial keyboards (like laptop boards) are made by lasering plastic that changes colors (usually black -> white)

A few other methods not mentioned yet:

Paint one color over a different color plastic, and then laser off the parts where you want the plastic underneath to show
UV printing - like from wasdkeyboards, but it can wear off
Pad printing - can also wear off, better for mass production if you have to print on top.

But all these methods are not as high quality as double shot molding or dye-sub

Offline Hyde

  • Posts: 2640
  • Location: Toronto, Canada
  • White Tofu Extraordinaire
Re: Whatís the typical production method for keycaps?
« Reply #4 on: Sat, 09 May 2020, 12:05:33 »
Slightly off topic question but why is GMK the preferred producer of keycaps?

GMK was the original manufacturer (still is) for Cherry keyboards from wayyyyyyyy back in the days.

It was considered to be one of the highest quality due to people's preference in Cherry profile (lower than OEM) also one of the first keycaps to be manufactured in such thickness.  Most ABS keycaps are generally very thin and flimy, it's only recently the trend has caught on now everyone manufactures thick keycaps.  These days you can most likely find something "close enough" for 1/3 the price, but most still swear by original GMK quality.

https://blog.wooting.nl/what-are-the-best-mechanical-keyboard-keycaps/

This article explains about ABS keycaps.

Though some people prefer PBT plastic which is harder also less prone to wear, however PBT is known to shrink as it cools so it's much harder to manufacture double shot PBT.  PBT is more commonly dye sublimated where the ink melted into the surface of keycap itself.

It's been a forever debate on ABS vs PBT.

Archiss ProgresTouch Retro - Gateron Yellow  |  Topre Realforce 104UW - 45g Silent  |  Topre Type Heaven  |  Beige Filco Ninja 104 - MX Red  |  Das Keyboard - MX Brown  |  Poker II - MX Red  |  Race II - MX Brown  |  Matias Quiet Pro - Matias Dampened ALPS  |  Logitech K840 - Romer G  |  Cherry MX Board 2.0 - MX Red  |  Cherry G84-4100 - ML  |  IBM Model M
Roccat Kone Pure  |  Logitech G203  |  Logitech G303  |  Logitech G302  |  Razer Naga  |  CM Storm Xornet  |  Razer Goliathus Mobile Stealth  |  Razer Goliathus Control  |  Artisan Hien  |  Artisan Hayate  |  Artisan Shiden