What Is The Best Keycap Material In Your Opinion?
What Kinds of Keycap Materials Are There?
On a keyboard, keycaps are square plastic buttons that we press to activate a command. Keycaps are made in a variety of ways by different businesses, and there are two common keycap materials. So, which ones are we talking about? Take a closer look at these keycaps.
- Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) is a type of plastic.
- Polybutylene terephthalate (PBT) is a type of plastic.
From molding techniques to hardness, texture, printability, and a variety of other characteristics, these materials are drastically different, yet both are routinely used in keyboards.
Techniques for Printing Keycaps
Before we get into the specifics of the two types of keycap materials, it’s important to understand the distinct processes that both keycap materials go through when it comes to printing legends. Let’s take a look at these procedures one by one.
- Dye-Sublimation is a procedure in which the legends are laser-etched into the keycaps after manufacturing and then filled with color using dye or other materials. This method enables for the creation of various colored graphics and legends that are not possible with other methods.
- Laser-Etching — In the Laser-Etching method, the keycaps are cast in a steel mold and then the legends are engraved onto the keycaps using a high-precision laser, commonly for backlit keyboards.
- Double-Shot — In this molding and printing method, a different plastic substance is extracted and injected into the keycap mold to produce a legend imprinted keycap directly out of the mold, which is a wonderful way to preserve the legend.
- Pad Printing — This is the most cost-effective method of printing legends since the legend ink is transferred to the surface of the keycap using a rubber pad. It isn’t very long-lasting and can easily chip off.
Keycaps made of ABS
ABS keycaps are manufactured of ABS plastic, which is also known as Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene and is one of the three polymers.
Each of the materials used to make ABS keycaps serves a specific purpose. Styrene is the most important component, followed by Butadiene, which makes it flexible, and Acrylonitrile, which hardens the substance.
So, in the end, you have an excellent, widely used, less expensive, and easier to manufacture keycap, which is the heart and soul of many popular keyboards currently on the market.
Keycaps made of PBT
PBT Keycaps are made from the PBT plastic substance, which stands for Polybutylene Terephthalate and is known for its amazing durability and toughness.
When it comes to melting point and chemical effects, PBT is considered more robust than other types of plastic, like ABS; yet, it is made through a lengthy procedure.
As a result, PBT keycaps are pricey, which is why you’ll only find them in a few keyboards and most professional level gaming keyboards, which are difficult to come by and expensive to purchase for the average low-budget gamer.
Read more: PBT Keycaps: What are the biggest weaknesses of this material?
ABS vs. PBT Keycaps Comparison
First and foremost, we’ll discuss texture. Because of the molding process and melting point changes, ABS keycaps are incredibly smooth.
PBT keycaps, on the other hand, are a little grainy; they’re not as smooth as ABS keycaps, but the overall sensation of the keypress is perfect, and it feels great. In the end, it comes down to whether you prefer smooth keys or keys with better grip.
Winner: It is up to you to decide which one you like.
However, there is a significant variation in noise between the two keycap materials. When you push the ABS plastic keycaps, they generate a thicker, louder sound.
PBT keycaps, on the other hand, are silent and create less noise than ABS keycaps. If you’re using your keyboard in a room where someone is asleep or in an office situation where you don’t want to disrupt other people’s serenity, this is a preferable option.
PBT Keycaps came out on top.
PBT keycaps are famed for their extraordinary endurance, as I previously stated. PBT keycaps are more likely to last than any other type of plastic keycap on the market, making them an excellent choice for you.
ABS keycaps wear out more faster than PBT keycaps, thus they’re not the greatest choice if you want a keycap that will last a long time before you need another pack.
Winner: PBT Keycaps
Imprinting of the Legend
The legends embossed on ABS keycaps are more likely to seem rough and fade away with time, which is something I despise about them. I’m sure there are others that feel the same way.
The legend imprints on PBT keycaps, on the other hand, feel smoother, look nicer, and do not fade away even after extended use, which is a good thing because legends fading away would detract from the keycap’s aesthetics, something we certainly don’t want to happen.
PBT Keycaps came out on top.
This is one area where I believe ABS keycaps outperform PBT keycaps by a wide amount. ABS keycaps are widely available at affordable prices both on their own and in mechanical keyboards.
PBT keycaps, on the other hand, are extremely expensive due to their rigorous molding and production process, as well as their durability and demand. As a result, they’re usually seen in keyboards designed for luxury or professional e-sports.
ABS Keycaps came out on top.
We know that both keycap materials go through the identical fabrication and molding process, but which one is heavier? At the end of the day, weight does matter when employing 87 or 104 of the same type of keys.
PBT keycaps are substantially heavier than ABS keycaps, which are light and simple to move around, due to their harder and more durable consistency.
ABS Keycaps came out on top.
>> Read more about: PBT vs ABS keycaps: what are the differences?
Which one is superior in terms of overall performance?
Both ABS and PBT keycaps have advantages and disadvantages. But if you ask us, the PBT plastic material is the clear victor in terms of characteristics and determining criteria. It may be costly at first, but it will be worthwhile in the long run.
That isn’t to say that ABS isn’t useful. ABS is nice, and if you’re just getting started with gaming keyboards. ABS might be a good low-cost alternative, but in the end, you should move to PBT keycaps; you’ll thank me!
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