Keycaps are one of the most visible and customizable aspects of a mechanical keyboard. They come in a wide variety of materials, colors, and shapes, allowing users to create a keyboard that's uniquely their own. In this article, we'll explore the different types of keycaps available on the market today.
ABS (acrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene) is a common type of plastic used for keycaps. It's relatively inexpensive, lightweight, and easy to mold, making it a popular choice for manufacturers. However, ABS keycaps can develop a shiny, greasy appearance over time, and are more prone to wear and fading than other materials.
PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) is a higher-quality plastic used for keycaps. It's more durable and resistant to wear and fading than ABS, and has a slightly rougher texture that some users prefer. PBT keycaps tend to be more expensive than ABS, but they also tend to last longer.
Double-shot keycaps are made by molding two layers of plastic together to create a two-tone effect. The legends (letters and symbols) are formed by molding one layer of plastic inside another, resulting in a keycap with a durable, long-lasting legend that won't wear off over time.
Dye-sublimation is a printing process used to create keycaps with colorful, long-lasting legends. The process involves printing the legends onto the keycaps using a special dye, which is then heat-pressed into the plastic. Dye-sublimation keycaps tend to have a slightly rougher texture than other types, and are more resistant to fading and wear.
Laser-etched keycaps are made by using a laser to etch the legends onto the surface of the keycap. This creates a sharp, precise legend that won't wear off over time, but can be less visible in low light conditions. Laser-etched keycaps are typically made from PBT plastic, and tend to have a rougher texture than other types.
Artisan keycaps are unique, hand-crafted keycaps made by individual artists and small businesses. They come in a wide variety of shapes, colors, and styles, and can feature intricate designs and details. Artisan keycaps are often made from high-quality materials like resin, and can be quite expensive.
Metal keycaps are made from materials like aluminum, brass, or stainless steel. They're heavier and more durable than plastic keycaps, and can add a distinctive look and feel to a keyboard. However, metal keycaps can be expensive and can add significant weight to a keyboard.
As you can see, there are many different types of keycaps available for mechanical keyboards. From inexpensive ABS plastic to high-quality PBT and artisan-made keycaps, there's something for every budget and style. Whether you're looking for a durable, long-lasting keycap or a unique, hand-crafted work of art, the world of keycaps has something to offer.