- Keycap material
The keycap affects the tactility of typing, but also affects the look and feel of the keyboard, and also determines whether a keyboard is durable. Therefore, manufacturers who pursue the ultimate will spend a lot of effort on keycaps. The keycap materials are mainly divided into three types: ABS, PBT, and POM. The main differences are as follows:
ABS: ABS is a common engineering plastic; the advantages are low cost; smooth hand feel, good plasticity, and easy to color. It is widely used in membrane keyboards and entry-level mechanical keyboards. The keycaps made of this material feel silky and smooth, and after a period of use, the keycaps will be shiny, and there will be a very greasy feeling, which is often referred to as “oiling”. The thickness of the ABS keycap is thin, so it will feel more brittle when tapped, and the color is also more cool, with good light transmission, suitable for backlit keyboards.
ABS keycaps have good impact feedback, bright colors, delicate hand feel, and high light transmittance.
PBT: PBT material is called “white rock”, the word rock well describes the characteristics of PBT material: hard and wear-resistant, so the keycap of PBT material is more durable, has a matte texture, and is not easy to appear greasy. phenomenon, greatly prolonging the time for the oiling situation to appear. The advantages of PBT keycaps are high temperature resistance and no oiling. The disadvantage is that the hand feel is not delicate enough, and the price is much higher than that of ABS.
POM: POM has high hardness, excellent wear resistance and self-lubricating properties. POM is somewhat similar to PBT as a whole, but the hand feel is more slippery than PBT, and it is not dry enough. Due to the high cost, few manufacturers currently use it.
- Keycap character processing technology
There are generally characters on the keycaps, which are easy to identify. At present, there are mainly four types of characters: two-color injection molding, thermal sublimation, laser engraving, and silk screen printing.
①Double-color injection molding: It is made by injection molding of two different colors of plastic. The advantages of keycaps made in this way are that they are very durable, and the fonts are difficult to be erased after using for a long time. The combination of transparent materials and opaque materials also Can make translucent keycaps, compatible with backlit keyboards.
②Dye sublimation: Dye sublimation is the use of high temperature to allow the pigment to penetrate into the keycap. . Although the keycaps made by the sublimation process take into account both good looks and durability, the disadvantages are also obvious, that is, the light transmittance is poor, and the sublimation is not suitable for backlit keyboards.
③ Laser engraving technology: Laser engraving technology is divided into two types: inkjet laser engraving and laser laser engraving. Inkjet laser engraving is to use laser engraving after spraying paint on transparent keycaps, which is mainly used for keyboards with backlight. Laser laser engraving is to engrave directly on opaque plastic. The characters of this keycap are protruding to the touch, and the font will be blackened if used for a long time. There are many applications of mechanical keyboards without backlight.
The production cost of inkjet laser engraving and laser laser engraving is relatively low, and it is also the more common keycap technology on the market. For example, most backlit keyboards such as Corsair and Razer use the inkjet laser engraving process, while IKBC, Gauss, etc. Most of the keyboards without backlight are laser engraved. The biggest disadvantage of the keycap characters of the laser engraving technology is that they are not wear-resistant. The letters on the keycaps are raised to the touch. After the keyboard is used for a long time, it is easy to wear off the letters, which affects the look and feel. However, due to its low cost and relatively simple process, it is widely used for mass-produced mechanical keyboards on the market.
④Silk printing: Silk screen printing means that the manufacturer makes a font template and prints it directly on the keycap with ink. The disadvantage is that it is easier to grind, so it is generally used for side engraving.
- Keycap character engraving position
Positively engraved keycaps: All the words and characters are engraved on the keycaps, the injection molding cost is low, and most keyboards in the market are equipped with positive engraved keycaps.
Side-engraved keycap: that is, all words and characters are engraved on the side of the keycap (“side engraving” is also called “front engraving”), the advantage is that the letters on the keycap will not wear out after a long time of use.
No engraved keycaps: that is, all keycaps are not engraved with any words and characters, which are simple and beautiful, and there will be no problem of characters being worn after using for a long time. It is ok for those who are familiar with keyboard layout, but for large For some people, there is no word and character identification, and sometimes it is very painful.