Keycaps are an essential component of any mechanical keyboard and can significantly change the look and feel of your keyboard. With the wide range of keycap types available, it can be difficult to know which ones are the best for your setup. To make your selection process easier, this article will discuss the top 5 types of keycaps for your mechanical keyboard and what you need to know before making your decision. From PBT to ABS to doubleshot keycaps, this article will provide you with the information you need to choose the right set for your keyboard. With the knowledge and options provided, you can be sure that your keyboard will be the envy of your friends.
What Are Keycaps?
Keycaps are the pieces that cover the switches of your keyboard. The first mechanical keyboards were designed with an OEM profile and stock keycaps – which are thin and don’t provide much cushioning. Since then we’ve come a long way and by comparison, modern keycaps are thicker, providing more cushioning and comfort. Keycaps are one of the most important parts of a mechanical keyboard, as they dictate the feel of your keyboard. When shopping for a mechanical keyboard, it’s important to understand the different types of keycaps available. This will help you find a keyboard that looks and feels right for you.
Different Types of Keycap Materials
There are a number of different keycap materials available, each with its own benefits. In this section, we’ll go over the most common types of keycaps and what they do best.
PBT Keycaps – The first type of keycaps we’ll cover are PBT keycaps. PBT stands for polybutylene terephthalate, a type of thermoplastic. PBT keycaps are often referred to as the “stronger” keycaps, as they’re more durable than most other keycaps. PBT keycaps are a common choice for gamers and those who spend long hours at their keyboard. PBT has an oil resistance which is perfect for preventing your keycaps from getting greasy from your natural oils or if you happen to be snacking.
ABS Keycaps – ABS stands for acrylonitrile butadiene styrene, a type of thermoplastic polymer. ABS keycaps are much cheaper than PBT keycaps, making them a great option for budget-friendly mechanical keyboards. ABS keycaps are slightly weaker than PBT keycaps, but they still provide a nice feel and perform well under normal usage.
POM Keycaps – POM stands for Polyoxymethylene and is an excellent thermoplastic commonly used in engineering due to its low friction, dimensional stability and stiffness. Fortunately, these are also features that make great keycaps! POM keycap quality is very closely matched to PBT with its only downside being slightly smoother than PBT. But if you want a glossy feel and don’t care about grip then this is no problem.
Top 4 Types Of Keycap
The term “doubleshot” refers to the two-shot moulding process that is used to create these keycaps. The two-shot moulding process can sometimes create a two-toned look and creates a shiny top, while the sides have a more rough texture. However, the main goal of the doubloshot moulding process is to create a strong and more reinforced keycap. Thus, doubleshot keycaps are really popular amongst gaming keycap retailers.
Pudding keycaps have been massively growing in popularity due to the satisfying light display they create on your keyboard. The keycaps have an opaque top with semi-clear sides. When paired with an RGB or backlit keyboard the shine that comes through the sides creates a beautiful effect. Pudding keycaps are often sold in sets to cover your entire keyboard however when tastefully placed on specific keys it can still add an awesome touch
Backlit keycaps are keycaps that have transparent letters and symbols that will allow different coloured lights through. Hence whatever effect your keyboard displays will be mirrored by your keycaps. They are often used with RGB keyboards to add a colourful glow. Backlit keycaps are also made of doubleshot plastic and are therefore very durable.
Finally, we have artisan keycaps. These are handcrafted keycaps that are made to order. They are often made by small, independent artists who typically make a very small quantity of each keycap. Because of this, artisan keycaps are the most unique option for your keyboard and are often the most expensive. These keycaps are mostly moulded using a strong resin to create snowglobe effects or even mould characters and objects onto the keycap.
Artisan keycaps are often inspired by various trends in pop culture like anime, video games, movies and TV shows.
How to Choose the Right Keycap Type for Your Keyboard
The best keycap type for you will depend on your intentions for your keycaps, your budget, and what you’re into. In this section, we will go over a few tips to help you make the right choice for your new keyboard.
Are you going to use your keycaps for long periods of time – Depending on how often you type, you may want to consider a heavier keycap. A heavier keycap will provide a nice tactile feel that will help you type faster and more accurately.
Do you prefer a clicky or tactile switch? – If you’re not going to be using your keyboard in public places like classrooms and libraries then you can have an obnoxiously clicky keycap. Harder plastics like PBT and POM will make for a great tactile response. A portion of this is also dependent on the keyboard and switches themselves so make sure to check carefully.
What is your budget? – If price is a big factor in your selection, you can use it as a way to narrow down your choices. Artisan keycaps will likely be the most expensive due to the effort that go into making them. However, it’s still possible to find some awesome designs for a reasonable price. There are also plenty of affordable keycap sets from online keycap retailers. Going for brand names like Razer and HyperX will obviously come with premium prices. So sometime’s it’s more cost-effective to go with the little guy.
So now that you’re an expert on keycaps go take a look for yourself!