[HOW TO] DIY KEYBOARD – PART 5: DIFFERENT SORTS OF KEYCAPS

To further individualize the look of your DIY keyboard, the choice of keycaps is an important factor. There is an enormous choice of color combinations, materials, and manufacturing methods. In this fifth part of our DIY-series we will give you a short overview of the different keycap variants.

ABS KEYCAPS

Most keyboards have ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) keycaps. This is a comparatively soft material that is nevertheless very robust. ABS caps are mainly found on illuminated keyboards, because the light can shine very well through laser-engraved inscriptions. A further advantage is that it is the most cost-effective material to manufacture. However, ABS keycaps wear out more quickly than models made of PBT.

GMK KEYCAPS

A high-quality version of the ABS keycaps is produced by GMK. The company produces these different variants in a double-shot process. GMK has a huge selection of keycaps, in part because the manufacturer produces special editions, some of which are limited. GMK keycaps are all “Made in Germany" and are characterized by a first-class quality and a very high durability. A large selection of GMK keycap sets can be found here: candykeys.com

PBT KEYCAPS

Keycaps made of PBT (polybutylene terephthalate) are more abrasion-resistant than those made of ABS. PBT key caps are also generally more durable and robust than those made of ABS. However, the manufacturing quality and material thickness and composition are of enormous importance. ABS keycaps from GMK, for example, are a big exception and are of superior quality. In general, however, PBT keycaps are characterized by a rougher surface, which many users find pleasant to the touch.

PBT PUDDING KEYCAPS

Pudding keycaps are another PBT variant. These are produced in a double-shot process and consist of two parts, one of which has translucent properties to allow more light to shine through the keycap. Especially keyboards with RGB lighting benefit from this.

ARTISAN KEYCAPS

Artisan keycaps are true design elements for mechanical keyboards. Manufactured as small works of art, they can be made in virtually any shape and color. These keycaps, which are mostly handmade or produced in very limited numbers, allow users to display figures or elements from their favorite game on the keyboard. Due to the elaborate manufacturing process, artisan solutions are the most expensive variant among the keycaps.

KEYCAP HARVESTING

For lovers of older or particularly rare keycaps, there is the possibility to use keycaps from older keyboards, just like "switch harvesting", to give your keyboard a very special retro look.

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