Poll

Matias keycaps you would buy...

Dye sub legends on Thick PBT
232 (25%)
Laser legends on Thick PBT
69 (7.4%)
Laser legends on Thick ABS
14 (1.5%)
Backlit ABS
24 (2.6%)
Doubleshot ABS
94 (10.1%)
Black legends on White caps
66 (7.1%)
Red legends on White caps
40 (4.3%)
Blue legends on White caps
54 (5.8%)
White legends on Black caps
60 (6.5%)
White legends on Red caps
30 (3.2%)
White legends on Blue caps
36 (3.9%)
Other colours (specified in the comment field)
31 (3.3%)
Blanks (no legends)
107 (11.5%)
Black legends on Grey caps
47 (5.1%)
White legends on Grey caps
25 (2.7%)

Total Members Voted: 297

Author Topic: Keycaps  (Read 120944 times)

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Offline therecorder

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Keycaps
« on: Fri, 05 July 2013, 11:08:20 »
Are replacement keycap sets available for the QuietPro?

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #1 on: Fri, 05 July 2013, 11:23:03 »
Not that I know of. I know Matias is trying to set up new sets. Maybe an AT101W will fit it?
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Offline therecorder

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #2 on: Fri, 05 July 2013, 11:27:42 »
Not that I know of. I know Matias is trying to set up new sets. Maybe an AT101W will fit it?

I'm referring to a set from Matias, with correct legends, perhaps also in black on white.

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #3 on: Fri, 05 July 2013, 11:36:48 »
At the moment, there's no sets for sale from Matias. You could buy another board and swap caps?

Edit: Was on my phone and didn't see what sub-forum this was under. My bad.
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Offline therecorder

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #4 on: Fri, 05 July 2013, 13:27:41 »
At the moment, there's no sets for sale from Matias. You could buy another board and swap caps?

Edit: Was on my phone and didn't see what sub-forum this was under. My bad.

I have the PC version - white on black keycaps.  Would be nice if, like Realforce, you could get other color keycaps.  He has the molds...  Not much of an investment, but there's definitely profit to be made.

Offline Techno Trousers

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #5 on: Fri, 05 July 2013, 17:30:53 »
It would definitely have a nice symmetry for Matias to start producing custom (or at least different colored) Alps key caps for sale. Since they are the sole maker of Alps switches, might as well be the sole maker of Alps key caps.

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #6 on: Tue, 16 July 2013, 22:24:51 »
We've been focusing on getting the Mini Tactile Pro and Mini Quiet Pro completed, but you can expect to see coloured keycaps in the near future.

Offline Techno Trousers

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #7 on: Wed, 17 July 2013, 17:41:43 »
Great news! I hope CPTBadAss saw this. I know he's always looking for Alps caps.

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #8 on: Wed, 17 July 2013, 23:21:01 »
Great news! I hope CPTBadAss saw this. I know he's always looking for Alps caps.

He posted to this thread, so he probably did.

I'll post again when we're close to having the keycaps available.


Offline danielh

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #9 on: Thu, 18 July 2013, 05:48:54 »
We've been focusing on getting the Mini Tactile Pro and Mini Quiet Pro completed, but you can expect to see coloured keycaps in the near future.

Mac-Dvorak keycaps, with accented characters and symbols, like the TactilePro? :)

Offline Burz

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #10 on: Fri, 30 August 2013, 05:47:00 »
I would be interested in some different-colored modifier caps, in medium or charcoal grey or maybe even something like dark blue.

The Mini Quiet Pro, I'm finding out, just seems like its sucking up all the light in its vicinity, making it a bit slower to position my hands on the thing (that, and the F-J bumps are more subtle than normal). I need something to break up the monotony.

If not new caps, then maybe painting the case is in order. I'm tired of having all my computer equipment ending up with only black to choose from. Even beige/khaki would be an improvement at this point.
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #11 on: Fri, 30 August 2013, 15:11:15 »
Thanks for all the comments.

We're doing 3D drawings for thick PBT keycaps now, so feel free to post any comments or requests.

Thanks!


Offline polpo

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #12 on: Fri, 30 August 2013, 18:09:25 »
Matias Mini Quiet Pro / DSI SMK-88 (Cherry Black) / IBM Model M (10 Jul 86) / ThinkPad Travel Keyboard with Ultranav

Offline Burz

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #13 on: Fri, 30 August 2013, 23:36:47 »
I'm not sure if this is any good as a suggestion, but Cherry have started making MX switch keyboards bearing lower-profile keycaps. That might be nice to have on a Matias board.

Sort of related-- Even the ThinkPad brand has switched to lower-profile caps with broader surface area (some people are calling them 'chicklet', but they are still sculpted). Even if lower-profile isn't feasible for ALPS switches, making the cap surface a bit larger might be nice as I really enjoy the size/shape of the new ThinkPad caps.
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Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #14 on: Fri, 30 August 2013, 23:40:04 »
Great news! I hope CPTBadAss saw this. I know he's always looking for Alps caps.

He posted to this thread, so he probably did.

I'll post again when we're close to having the keycaps available.

I just saw this!! I'm excited but I've gotta say, I'm a little disappointed it's going to thick PBT. Regardless, new Alps caps are going to be incredible :D
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #15 on: Sat, 31 August 2013, 13:31:02 »
I'm not sure if this is any good as a suggestion, but Cherry have started making MX switch keyboards bearing lower-profile keycaps. That might be nice to have on a Matias board.

Sort of related-- Even the ThinkPad brand has switched to lower-profile caps with broader surface area (some people are calling them 'chicklet', but they are still sculpted). Even if lower-profile isn't feasible for ALPS switches, making the cap surface a bit larger might be nice as I really enjoy the size/shape of the new ThinkPad caps.

To do this, we'd have to eliminate the staggered heights.  The keycaps would be all the same height, and essentially flat like a laptop keyboard.


I'm excited but I've gotta say, I'm a little disappointed it's going to thick PBT. Regardless, new Alps caps are going to be incredible :D

Why disappointed?


Online Belfong

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #16 on: Mon, 16 September 2013, 02:39:05 »
I'm curious as to the material of the key cap for the Quiet Pro. Are they PBT or ABS?
 

Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #17 on: Mon, 16 September 2013, 06:08:22 »
I'm excited but I've gotta say, I'm a little disappointed it's going to thick PBT. Regardless, new Alps caps are going to be incredible :D

Why disappointed?

Personal preference. I generally like ABS more than PBT.
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Offline therecorder

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #18 on: Mon, 16 September 2013, 06:10:06 »
I'm curious as to the material of the key cap for the Quiet Pro. Are they PBT or ABS?

Comes with ABS.

Offline dorkvader

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #19 on: Thu, 19 September 2013, 15:59:20 »
POM would be great, too. but thick PBT is hard to beat.

I can't wait, this will be an exciting announcement when it comes out.
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Online Belfong

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #20 on: Thu, 19 September 2013, 18:28:27 »
Yeah.. I'd like to see PBT caps too and will invest in a set myself.
 

Offline bazemk1979

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #21 on: Thu, 26 September 2013, 21:04:19 »
 Thick PBT is good mainly for dyesub legends, laser etched on top will wear off due to Matias using black keycaps and they cant dyesub black color. Maeby Matias should offer side laser etched ones for people that are not touch typers.
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Offline Hazel

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #22 on: Tue, 01 October 2013, 12:55:22 »
Mac-Dvorak keycaps, with accented characters and symbols, like the TactilePro? :)

To do this, we'd have to eliminate the staggered heights.  The keycaps would be all the same height, and essentially flat like a laptop keyboard.
appointed?

The nice thing about uniform-profile keycaps is that you can easily support alternate layouts.  Just include a flat F and J, and a homing U, H, T, and N - instant Dvorak and Colemak support!  (Bonus points for a capslock-sized backspace for Colemak users.)

I realize I'm talking about a niche of an already-niche market, but it might be a good way to further distinguish your product.

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #23 on: Tue, 01 October 2013, 14:08:00 »
Thick PBT is good mainly for dyesub legends, laser etched on top will wear off due to Matias using black keycaps and they cant dyesub black color. Maeby Matias should offer side laser etched ones for people that are not touch typers.

We'll need to see how well lasered PBT holds up in testing.  More likely we'll use UV printing on black caps, which is a mixture of paint and UV material.  This gives you vibrant colour and wear resistance.


Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #24 on: Tue, 01 October 2013, 14:15:51 »
The nice thing about uniform-profile keycaps is that you can easily support alternate layouts.  Just include a flat F and J, and a homing U, H, T, and N - instant Dvorak and Colemak support!  (Bonus points for a capslock-sized backspace for Colemak users.)

I realize I'm talking about a niche of an already-niche market, but it might be a good way to further distinguish your product.

Yes, this is true.  It is also MUCH less expensive to do uniform profile caps.

However, we have a product in development that requires staggered caps, so we'd have to do them anyway.


Offline Binge

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #25 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 13:03:44 »
I eat through pad printing even with a great deal of hand-washing / sanitizer.  I would pay a premium for better quality keys.  What comes standard on the matias keyboards (laser etching) works out fantastically.  Best of luck to you for coming up with a cost effective method.  Cheers!
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #26 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 15:02:41 »
BTW, see attached.

This is a sneak preview of what you can expect.  The left one is a CNC of one of the new caps.  The right one is our current keycap.

38552-0

Online Belfong

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #27 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 19:58:02 »
I already love how thick it looked. Can't wait!!
 

Offline Matias

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Re: new Matias PBT Keycaps
« Reply #28 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 20:18:32 »
I already love how thick it looked. Can't wait!!

Thanks Belfong!

BTW, sorry about the picture quality.  It was a quick photo -- I didn't have proper lights setup.


Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #29 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 20:40:44 »
They live!! What material did you guys end up with Matias?
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #30 on: Thu, 10 October 2013, 21:43:43 »
They live!! What material did you guys end up with Matias?

We're making the tooling to support both ABS and PBT, so we'll be able to offer either option.


Offline CPTBadAss

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #31 on: Fri, 11 October 2013, 13:28:42 »
Would I be over stepping my bounds if I told you I love you Matias???
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #32 on: Sat, 12 October 2013, 00:20:15 »
Would I be over stepping my bounds if I told you I love you Matias???

Haaa, no one else needs to know...


Offline mashby

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #33 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 12:46:56 »
Mine if I jump in on this love fest?



Fantastic news Matias. I can't wait for when we can purchase a set. Thank you!

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #34 on: Tue, 15 October 2013, 16:05:29 »
Mine if I jump in on this love fest?

Fantastic news Matias. I can't wait for when we can purchase a set. Thank you!

:-)

Thanks, we're pretty excited too.  I had no idea how difficult and time-consuming it was to design keycaps.  It explains why there are so many awful caps out there.

We also have a few surprises coming, which you'll have to wait to see.


« Last Edit: Tue, 15 October 2013, 16:45:03 by Matias »

Offline BucklingSpring

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #35 on: Sat, 19 October 2013, 16:24:54 »
Boner alert!
Can't wait to upgrade my keyboards with those.

Will you dare showing the font soon?

BTW, see attached.

This is a sneak preview of what you can expect.  The left one is a CNC of one of the new caps.  The right one is our current keycap.

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Ducky x2 (9008G2 Pro PBT/MX Green and Mini MX Red), Matias x2 (QP and Mini QP Dampened ALPS), Topre RealForce x4 (87U 55g/Digilog case, 103U-UW & 104UG High-Profile x2), Filco Majestouch x2 (TKL MX Blue & V2 AI 104 MX Blue), IBM-M x2 (BS & RD), Unicomp-M x5 (BS black on black x2, BS Ivory x2, QT Ultra-Classic), Deck x4 (Legend MX Black & MX Clear, Hassium & Francium w/ MX Brown), DAS III (MX Blue), KBT Pure Pro 60% (MX Red), NMB-RT8256CW+ x2 (black space invader), XArmor U9BL-S (MX Brown) given for free to someone I hate, CM X2 (Trigger/MX Green + Storm TKL/NovaTouch), TVS GOLD (MX Blue) and a many many more (NMB, DELL, MS, ATT, KeyTronic, Etc...)

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #36 on: Sat, 19 October 2013, 17:12:39 »
Boner alert!
Can't wait to upgrade my keyboards with those.

Will you dare showing the font soon?

You'll have to wait and see...  :-)


Offline dante

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #37 on: Tue, 22 October 2013, 12:41:57 »
Matias,

If Diatec (Filco) or Ducky came forward and said "We'd love to build Alps boards with your switches but our supplier no longer has the keycap tooling for these switches" would you be able to sell them?

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #38 on: Wed, 23 October 2013, 06:00:15 »
Matias,

If Diatec (Filco) or Ducky came forward and said "We'd love to build Alps boards with your switches but our supplier no longer has the keycap tooling for these switches" would you be able to sell them?

Yes, of course.  No problem at all with that.  In fact, they are buying keycaps from the same vendor we buy ours from currently.

Once our tooling is complete, they will have two independent sources for ALPS keycaps, both of which are good.  For Cherry caps, they only have one source.  They are more "locked-in" on the Cherry side than they would be using our switches.

Offline frvrngn

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #39 on: Fri, 25 October 2013, 12:05:12 »
Just found this thread, I cant wait!  I am really loving my new QP and would really love some new caps for it!  Any ETA on releasing these in case I missed it?
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Offline AKmalamute

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #40 on: Fri, 25 October 2013, 12:49:23 »
well, I'm committed ... if not to this upcoming keycap set specifically, then pretty close to it. I've ordered switches from 7bit, and right now I have no keycaps I can scavange.

 I for one am thankful for the recent surge in interest in the matias switches that's necessitated you guys making caps for us weirdos.

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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #41 on: Fri, 25 October 2013, 14:58:15 »
The new caps should be available around February/March.  We'll be setting up group-buys to gauge interest in specific sets.

There are a few projects already underway, including one that I'm running...

http://geekhack.org/?topic=50037

http://geekhack.org/?topic=44851.msg932446#msg932446

http://geekhack.org/?topic=49930.0

I'm hoping to help support these projects with various caps options.  Pretty excited to see all the positive momentum.

Offline Halverson

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #42 on: Fri, 25 October 2013, 15:09:50 »

The new caps should be available around February/March.  We'll be setting up group-buys to gauge interest in specific sets.

There are a few projects already underway, including one that I'm running...

http://geekhack.org/?topic=50037

http://geekhack.org/?topic=44851.msg932446#msg932446

http://geekhack.org/?topic=49930.0

I'm hoping to help support these projects with various caps options.  Pretty excited to see all the positive momentum.

Can't wait!

If you need any prototype testing, lemme know ;)
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Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #43 on: Fri, 25 October 2013, 15:15:10 »
We'll need to see how well lasered PBT holds up in testing.  More likely we'll use UV printing on black caps, which is a mixture of paint and UV material.  This gives you vibrant colour and wear resistance.

How is the UV-impregnated paint applied to the keycap?

I'm still trying to get my head around the two different types of pad printing, and I think you suggested previously that the "non-decal" pad printing might be "UV printing". Another company suggested that possibly a mixture of epoxy and pigment was used in the past (late 80s/early 90s keyboards).
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #44 on: Fri, 25 October 2013, 16:19:04 »
We'll need to see how well lasered PBT holds up in testing.  More likely we'll use UV printing on black caps, which is a mixture of paint and UV material.  This gives you vibrant colour and wear resistance.

How is the UV-impregnated paint applied to the keycap?

It's silkscreened on, usually the whole keyboard at once, but in small quantities, you can also silkscreen individual keys by hand and then run them through a UV machine.

In really small quantities, you don't even need a UV machine.  A UV lamp is enough -- a desk lamp with a UV lightbulb.

The advantage of the machine is the conveyor belt, that ensures consistent exposure times and simplifies handling, but if you're just doing a few caps, there's nothing to stop you from just putting them under a fixed UV lamp for a set amount of time.


I'm still trying to get my head around the two different types of pad printing, and I think you suggested previously that the "non-decal" pad printing might be "UV printing".

I can't imagine why anybody uses the decal method anymore.  It looks terrible and is twice as much work (in terms of labour).

Though, I've only seen it still used on really cheap keyboards, so perhaps it's still cheaper in terms of material cost and labour if it's a robot doing it.


Another company suggested that possibly a mixture of epoxy and pigment was used in the past (late 80s/early 90s keyboards).

Probably true.

Industrial processes and chemicals have advanced quite a bit, since that time, but there's more than one way to skin a cat.

« Last Edit: Fri, 25 October 2013, 16:21:54 by Matias »

Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #45 on: Fri, 25 October 2013, 16:20:08 »
If you need any prototype testing, lemme know ;)

Thanks!  Will do.


Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #46 on: Fri, 25 October 2013, 16:31:02 »
It's silkscreened on, usually the whole keyboard at once, but in small quantities, you can also silkscreen individual keys by hand and then run them through a UV machine.

Hm … the plot thickens. EliteKeyboard's website claims that Tampo (pad) printing is superior to silkscreen printing, and I've been asking around about this — no company I've spoken to has been convinced that anyone would ever use silkscreen printing for keycaps. Key Source China also allege that most keyboards are silkscreen, with pad printing being the superior option, but no-one is able to affirm this statement.

EliteKeyboards have told me (in essence) that they're referring to the use of silkscreen printing in novelty keycaps, which seems more in line with the general sense of disbelief.

But now you're suggesting that batch silkscreen printing is viable …

It's actually extremely rare to see a NON decal consumer keyboard — the only exceptions I've seen in any recent products are a Fujitsu laptop and Dell Latitude E-series laptops (both non-decal thick ink printing, like vintage NTC keyboards), and of course Apple use laser etching. There's also an Acer keyboard in the office (quite a few years old now) with the thick ink printing.

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.)
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #47 on: Fri, 25 October 2013, 17:02:30 »
I don't know where EliteKeyboard's website got their info, but in Asia at least, laser is by far the most popular printing method for keycaps, followed by silkscreen if you need colour legends.

I don't know what SP uses.  You could always ask them.  They are based in the US, so there are no language barriers.

Industrial equipment is expensive and pretty much lasts forever, so perhaps there are still companies using pad printing, but I've never seen one.  Most of the factories in Asia are not that old, so they are less likely to have older equipment.

Offline Daniel Beardsmore

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #48 on: Fri, 25 October 2013, 17:14:25 »
SP offer pad printing, but not silkscreen (and are not aware of the existence of the latter). EK believe that silkscreen is manual labour only, with no UV protection option. Devlin would be surprised if anyone used silkscreen. Cherry ridiculed the claims of silkscreen printing.

I'm going by products sold in the UK — it's virtually all "decal" style. That's virtually all I see, from any consumer or business brand, year upon year. It's some sort of hardened coating (which isn't, as it comes off easily, and the writing along with it) over flat painted legends.

Filco keyboards are claimed to be pad-printed too, but I've never seen any official word on their printing technique. The all-over spray coating though is evident from examination of a keycap (you can see all the spray splatter on the underside). Most high-end brands now prefer laser, and recently laser has reached the point that vivid white on black is possible. The only company who ever pulled off the scorched gold-on-black look is Topre, where it looks more like gold thick ink printing.

Depending who you ask, you get a completely different story, and nothing anyone says accounts for reality. Part of the problem is that all the companies accessible to English speakers, are high-end and specialist companies!
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Offline Matias

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Re: Keycaps
« Reply #49 on: Sun, 27 October 2013, 07:12:18 »
SP offer pad printing, but not silkscreen (and are not aware of the existence of the latter). EK believe that silkscreen is manual labour only, with no UV protection option. Devlin would be surprised if anyone used silkscreen. Cherry ridiculed the claims of silkscreen printing.

It seems like they all operate in a bubble, continuing to use whatever approach they initially settled on or invested in equipment for.  Not surprising, considering how expensive industrial equipment can be.


I'm going by products sold in the UK — it's virtually all "decal" style. That's virtually all I see, from any consumer or business brand, year upon year. It's some sort of hardened coating (which isn't, as it comes off easily, and the writing along with it) over flat painted legends.

The decal approach works better if it covers the entire top of the key.  That gives it a more matte appearance, and doesn't look like a weird sticker over top of the legend.  Of course, covering the whole surface also uses more material ( = more expensive) so it's rarely done that way.


Filco keyboards are claimed to be pad-printed too, but I've never seen any official word on their printing technique. The all-over spray coating though is evident from examination of a keycap (you can see all the spray splatter on the underside).

Another variation on the full coverage decal approach I mentioned above.


Most high-end brands now prefer laser, and recently laser has reached the point that vivid white on black is possible. The only company who ever pulled off the scorched gold-on-black look is Topre, where it looks more like gold thick ink printing.

Yes, laser has come a long way.  I was very much against it in the gold-on-black days.  I'm curious to see how well it does on PBT.