Welcome to the wonderful world of keycaps! You might be just starting out on your mechanical keyboard journey or looking to enhance your existing setup. Either way, keycaps play a significant role in personalizing your keyboard experience. In this beginner’s guide to keycap basics, we’ll break down everything you need to know about keycaps so you can make informed decisions and discover the perfect keycaps for your needs. Get ready to dive into keycap materials, profiles, printing methods, designs, compatibility, and maintenance!
What are Keycaps?
Keycaps are the removable plastic covers placed on top of each key switch on a mechanical keyboard. They come in various shapes, sizes, and materials, allowing you to customize the look and feel of your keyboard.
Keycaps can be made from various materials and the keycap materials play a significant role in the overall feel and durability of your keycaps. The two most common materials used for keycaps are ABS and PBT.
- ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene):
- Lightweight and affordable
- Tends to become shiny with prolonged use
- Often found on stock keycaps that come with mechanical keyboards
- PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate):
- Denser and more durable than ABS
- Resistant to shine and wear
- Slightly more expensive than ABS keycaps
- Can have a textured or rougher surface, providing a unique typing experience
ABS keycaps are generally cheaper and more widely available, while PBT keycaps are known for their durability and resistance to shine. Both materials have their pros and cons, so it’s essential to consider your preferences when selecting keycaps for your mechanical keyboard.
Keycap profiles refer to the shape and height of keycaps. There are several popular keycap profiles to choose from, each offering a different typing experience and aesthetic.It’s important to experiment and find the one that suits you best.
- Cherry Profile:
- Lower profile, slightly sculpted
- Comfortable for typing
- Originated from Cherry keyboards, hence the name
- OEM Profile:
- Taller than Cherry profile
- Sculpted, with different row heights
- Commonly found on stock keycaps
- XDA Profile:
- Uniform, flat profile
- No row differentiation
- Offers a unique typing experience
Legends and Printing Methods
Legends are the characters, symbols, or icons on keycaps. There are various printing methods used to apply legends to keycaps, such as pad printing, dye-sublimation, and double-shot molding. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages in terms of durability and visual appeal. Here are some common printing methods:
- Pad Printing:
- Inexpensive and fast
- Legends can wear off over time
- Not recommended for long-term use
- Durable and high-quality
- Legends are printed by heating ink that penetrates the keycap material
- Typically used with PBT keycaps
- Double-shot Injection:
- Premium quality and highly durable
- Legends are made from a separate piece of plastic, ensuring they never wear off
- Commonly used with ABS keycaps, but can also be found on PBT keycaps
There is a wide range of PBT dye sublimated keycap designs available at Keysium, including popular anime keycaps and kawaii keycaps. You can also find keycaps in different languages, such as Japanese and Korean.
Not all keycaps are compatible with every mechanical keyboard. It’s crucial to ensure that the keycaps you choose are compatible with your keyboard’s layout, switch type, stem type, and keycap profile to find the perfect match. For instance, ISO layout keycaps are designed for keyboards with the ISO layout, which is commonly used in European countries.
If you own a backlit mechanical keyboard, you might want to consider backlit keycaps. These keycaps are designed with transparent or translucent legends, allowing the keyboard’s backlight to shine through for a visually stunning effect.
Proper maintenance of your keycaps is essential for preserving their appearance and function. It can prolong the life of your keycaps and keep them looking their best. Here are some tips for keycap care:
- Regularly clean your keycaps to remove dust, dirt, and oils from your fingers
- Use a keycap puller to safely remove keycaps from your keyboard
- Gently clean keycaps using a soft brush, mild soap, and warm water
- Allow keycaps to air dry completely before reattaching them to your keyboard
Understanding keycap basics is essential for both mechanical keyboard newcomers and enthusiasts. By familiarizing yourself with keycap materials, profiles, printing methods, designs, compatibility, and maintenance, you’ll be better equipped to find the perfect keycaps for your mechanical keyboard setup. Whether you’re interested in our captivating anime keycaps or the functional and stylish keycaps in various languages, explore Keysium’s extensive selection of keycaps to customize your keyboard and elevate your typing experience.
Remember to check out other articles in the Keysium blog for more information on keycap designs, compatibility, maintenance, collections, community, and accessories. Happy typing!