How to Start Designing a Set of Keycaps Myself
Keycaps play a crucial role in the aesthetics and functionality of a keyboard. A well-designed set of keycaps not only enhances the overall look and feel of the keyboard but also improves the typing experience. In this blog post, we will discuss the steps involved in designing a set of keycaps to match your individual style and needs.
I. Understanding User Needs and Preferences:
The first step in designing a set of keycaps is to identify your target audience and analyze their needs and preferences. Consider factors such as the type of keyboard you will be using, your typing style, and any specific requirements you may have. This will help you in selecting the right type of keycaps that cater to your individual needs.
There are several types of keycaps available in the market, each with their own unique features and benefits. Here are some of the most common types of keycaps:
ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) Keycaps: These keycaps are made from a thermoplastic material that is lightweight and easy to mold. ABS keycaps are smooth to the touch and have a shiny finish, but they tend to wear out and become shiny over time.
PBT (Polybutylene Terephthalate) Keycaps: PBT keycaps are made from a denser thermoplastic material that is more durable and resistant to wear and tear. They have a rougher texture and a matte finish that does not wear out easily, making them ideal for long-term use.
POM (Polyoxymethylene) Keycaps: POM keycaps are made from a highly dense thermoplastic material that is strong and resistant to wear and tear. They have a smooth texture and a matte finish, which gives them a soft and comfortable feel.
Double-Shot Keycaps: These keycaps are made by molding two different types of plastic together, creating a layered effect. Double-shot keycaps have a durable and long-lasting design, making them ideal for heavy use.
Dye-Sublimation Keycaps: These keycaps have a design that is printed onto the surface of the keycap using a heat transfer process. This design process produces a high-quality and long-lasting image that won't fade or wear out easily. Most of The KapCo keycaps is made from these technique!
Custom Keycaps: These keycaps are designed to the specifications of the user and can be made from various materials and designs, including 3D printing and artisan keycaps.
Understanding the various types of keycaps available can help you choose the right material and design for your individual needs and preferences.
II. Material Selection:
Once you have identified your target audience, the next step is to select the appropriate material for your keycaps. Common materials used for keycaps include ABS, PBT, and POM. Each material has its own pros and cons, and the choice of material should be based on the specific requirements of your keycap design.
PBT and ABS are the two most commonly used materials for manufacturing keycaps, and both have their own advantages and disadvantages. Here are three pros and cons of each:
- Durability: PBT keycaps are known for their superior durability, and are less likely to wear down or develop a shine over time compared to ABS keycaps.
- Texture: PBT keycaps have a slightly rougher texture that provides a more tactile feel and better grip, making them less slippery than ABS keycaps.
- Resistance to heat and chemicals: PBT keycaps are more resistant to heat and chemical damage, making them less prone to melting or warping.
- Limited color options: PBT keycaps are more difficult to color and therefore have fewer color options available compared to ABS keycaps.
- Cost: PBT keycaps are generally more expensive than ABS keycaps, which can be a factor for budget-conscious consumers.
- Manufacturing difficulty: PBT keycaps are more difficult to manufacture than ABS keycaps, which can lead to longer lead times and potentially higher defect rates.
- Smooth texture: ABS keycaps have a smooth texture that can provide a faster typing experience and a sleek look.
- Color options: ABS keycaps are easier to color and therefore have a wider range of color options available compared to PBT keycaps.
- Manufacturing ease: ABS keycaps are easier to manufacture than PBT keycaps, leading to faster production times and potentially lower costs.
- Durability: ABS keycaps are less durable than PBT keycaps and are more likely to wear down or develop a shine over time.
- Heat and chemical sensitivity: ABS keycaps are more sensitive to heat and chemical damage, which can lead to warping, melting or discoloration over time.
- Grip: ABS keycaps can be slippery and difficult to grip, especially during long typing sessions or in humid environments.
Overall, we think that PBT keycaps are a better choice for users who prioritize durability, grip and resistance to heat and chemicals, that's why most of The KapCo keycaps are made from PBT material!
III. Ergonomic Design:
Ergonomics is an important factor to consider when designing your keycaps. The keycaps should be designed to provide a comfortable and natural typing experience. Consider the shape, profile, and height of the keycaps to ensure they fit your hands comfortably and reduce the risk of repetitive strain injuries.
Here's some of the most popular keycaps profile in the market:
Cherry Profile - Cherry profile is one of the most widely used keycap profiles and is named after the Cherry MX switch. It has a sculpted profile that is higher in the back and lower in the front, with a slight curve towards the center of the keycap. The Cherry profile provides a comfortable and ergonomic typing experience, and the height of the keycaps helps to reduce strain on the fingers during extended typing sessions. Cherry profile keycaps are commonly used on mechanical keyboards and are a great choice for users who value a traditional, tactile typing experience.
OEM Profile - OEM (Original Equipment Manufacturer) profile is a keycap profile commonly used by major keyboard manufacturers. It has a slightly higher profile than Cherry profile and a more rounded shape, with a similar sculpting. The OEM profile provides a comfortable and traditional typing experience, and its slightly taller height makes it easier to locate keys by feel. OEM profile keycaps are a great choice for users who want a comfortable and versatile typing experience.
DSA Profile - DSA (Distributed Structure Aesthetic) profile is a flat, uniform keycap profile that is the same height across all keys. It has a minimalistic design with no sculpting or curvature, which makes it visually appealing to some users. The DSA profile provides a consistent typing experience and allows for easy customization with keycap sets in a wide variety of colors and designs. DSA profile keycaps are commonly used on ortholinear keyboards or in custom keyboard builds, and are a great choice for users who value a sleek, modern look and want to personalize their keyboard.
Most of the keycaps found in The KapCo. is in OEM / Cherry profile! Especially our exclusive designs from our designer!
IV. Aesthetics and Artistic Design:
The aesthetics and artistic design of the keycaps play a crucial role in enhancing the overall look and feel of the keyboard. Consider the color scheme, font, and artwork to match your individual style and preferences. There are various online tools and resources available to help you design and customize your keycaps to match your unique aesthetic.
There's 2 main factory to consider when designing a set of keycaps:
Aesthetics - Keycaps are an important aspect of the overall aesthetics of a keyboard, and their design can greatly impact the look and feel of the keyboard. Keycaps can be designed in a variety of colors, textures, and patterns to match a specific theme or style. For example, some keycaps are designed with bright and bold colors to create a vibrant and eye-catching look, while others may have a more subdued or minimalist design. The material used to make the keycaps can also impact their appearance, with materials like ABS or PBT having different textures and finishes. Some keycaps also feature unique designs, such as artisan keycaps, which are handcrafted and often feature intricate designs or sculpted shapes.
- Legibility - Keycaps should be designed with legibility in mind, meaning that the font, size, and shape of the letters and symbols on the keycaps should be clear and easy to read. This is especially important for users who type frequently or use their keyboard for work purposes. Keycaps with poor legibility can cause errors and slow down typing speed. Keycaps can be designed with a variety of font styles, such as block letters, cursive, or custom fonts, but it's important to ensure that the font is easy to read and distinguishable from other keys. The size and shape of the letters and symbols on the keycaps should also be considered, with larger and bolder letters being easier to read. Additionally, some keycaps feature backlit designs, which can enhance legibility in low light settings. Overall, legibility is an important factor to consider when designing keycaps, as it affects the functionality and usability of the keyboard.
V. Manufacturing and Quality Control:
Once you have designed your keycaps, it's time to manufacture and quality control them. There are various manufacturers and vendors available online that offer custom keycap manufacturing services. It's important to ensure that the keycaps are made using high-quality materials and meet your individual design specifications.
Designing your own set of keycaps is a fun and creative process that allows you to customize your keyboard to match your individual style and needs. By following the steps outlined above, you can design a set of keycaps that not only look great but also improve your typing experience. Remember to consider factors such as user needs, material selection, ergonomic design, aesthetics, and quality control to ensure that your keycaps are top-notch.