Technically, we create custom keycaps for you out of any material of your choice! However, there are certain materials that most users prefer.
First, we have below plastics materials.
ABS is the standard budget option for making keycaps. It’s cheap to produce, has a smooth surface, and is moderately resistant to wear.
However, it tends to develop a greasy, shiny surface after extended use. Also, the lettering and branding on the keys tend to fade quickly. Additionally, ABS yellows over time when exposed to elements like UV light.
PBT is a slightly better material than ABS. It offers greater strength and durability than ABS.
Also, it comes with a matte surface that gives a better ‘feel’ and surface texture. However, it is more expensive than ABS.
Polycarbonate is a great option if you want clear or transparent keycaps to fully display your keyboard’s RGB lighting. It is strong, impact-resistant, doesn’t yellow, and provides a nice finger feel.
Other plastics you can use for custom keycaps include; POM, PVC, etc.
We can create novelty custom keycaps out of metal if you want a more premium material. These keycaps have a more premium, solid feel, are more durable, and cost more than plastic keycaps.
Some of the metals RapidDonecan use include Aluminum, brass, and stainless steel.
Keycap Manufacturing Processes
We have several manufacturing processes we use in creating high-quality custom keycaps. The manufacturing method we choose depends on the order size, material, and customer requirements.
√ CNC Machining
CNC machining is the most accurate method to manufacture custom keycaps. Thanks to our powerful CNC machine, we can maintain a high-quality surface with low tolerances.
It also provides a better material removal process to attain uniform wall thickness. We mainly use CNC machining to create prototyping and low-volume orders of novelty keycaps.
√ Vacuum casting
Vacuum casting is the manufacturing method we use in making low-volume plastic keycaps. It’s a more cost-effective method than injection molding for low volume since the tooling costs are much lower.
Our vacuum casting process produces detailed keycaps using high-quality master patterns. We often prepare the patterns using Additive manufacturing or CNC manufacturing to ensure we capture all the design’s details.
√ 3D printing
3D printing is another excellent method we can use for low-volume production runs. Although we primarily use it for master pattern creation, we can also create beautiful, durable custom keycaps with 3D printing for prototyping.
With our FDM and SLS printers, we can create the keycaps out of metal and plastic. So, contact us to get a catalog of available materials.
√ Injection Molding
Injection Molding is the best, most cost-effective manufacturing method for creating large orders. With this method, we can easily make small intricate designs with a wide range of materials.
Due to the fact that the mold is intended for a large production run, you can invest in metal tooling. This produces high-quality keycaps.
To apply the final lettering, coloring, legends, and other finishes, RapidDone provides a wide array of customization options.
√ Sandblasting and Anodizing
These finishes are great for Aluminum custom keycaps. Anodizing provides a wide range of colors to go with the smooth, sandblasted surface.
Silkscreen is how we imprint the legends(symbols) on the keyboards. Using a silkscreen tool, we can print any logo or letter in any font on the keycap for mass production with the injection molding process.
√ Laser Engraving
This method uses a laser to engrave the symbols or legends on the keycaps. You can also fill the legends with paint to create a unique look at metals or plastics.
√ Dye Sublimation
Dye sublimation is a more durable form of printing. It applies the dye to the keycaps at a high temperature to create a longer-lasting legend.
Since the dye enters the structure of the keycap material, it is more resistant to wear and doesn’t fade quickly.
We can use this manufacturing technique to create keycaps with extremely legible legends. It involves combining two plastics of different colors in via injection molding.
One plastic forms the outer layer of the keycap, while the other forms the legend on the keys. This produces high-quality, wear-resistant legends on the keycaps.
FAQs on Keycaps
Here are some common questions customers ask before ordering keycaps.
1- How Thick are RapidDone Keycaps?
Thicker keycaps give a more solid feel and sound profile to the keyboard. At RapidDone, we can create keycaps with wall thicknesses of 1 -1.5mm.
2- What Keycap Profiles can we Create?
The profile of the keycap has a significant effect on gaming, typing, and other keyboard tasks. So, we offer seral keycap profiles to suit several needs.
We can create the tooling necessary for manufacturing standard keycap profiles like OEM, cherry, DSA, etc. Also, if you need something different, you can send your plans in, and we’ll make them for you.
3- Are ABS keycaps better than PBT keycaps?
No, PBS keycaps are better than ABS. They offer a better wear-resistant matte finish, do not fade over time, and provide a better typing experience.
Also, ABS keycaps are yellow when exposed to UV light, giving them an undesirable look.
4- Why Get New Custom Keycap?
The main reason why most people get custom keycaps is aesthetics. With a customized keycap, you can transform a stock mechanical keyboard into a vibrant color scape to fit your PC setup.
These keycaps can also bring several improvements to your typing or gaming experience.
5- Factors To Consider When Buying Keycaps
Before choosing a set of custom keycaps, you need to consider certain factors to get value for your money. These factors include;
Mechanical keyboards have different sizes like 60%, tenkeyless, etc. Before buying a custom keycap set, ensure the keys in the set fit your keyboard’s layout.
Another thing to check is the layout. ANSI and ISO layout keyboards have unique shapes for keys like the enter and backspace keys.
So, confirming the key layout before buying a keycap set is always good. Lastly, you should check the legends on your keycaps to see if they are in the correct language and clear.
The keycap’s thickness influences the sound and tactile feedback of the keyboard. A thicker keycap will vibrate less and provide a deeper sound profile.
However, thicker caps will cost more than thinner caps.
Cost is the final factor you have to consider when buying custom keycaps. Premium materials like metal and polycarbonate are more beautiful and durable but cost more.
Also, long-lasting finishes like Doubleshot, laser engraving, and dye sublimation can cost more than conventional finishes like printing.