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ABS Keycaps or PBT Keycaps?

Introduction to the ABS Keycaps and PBT Keycaps

ABS keycaps are a great budget-friendly option for gamers. They are made of hard plastic that won’t wear down over time, and they’re also more affordable than other types of keycaps. However, ABS keycaps can produce a “clacky” sound when typing, and some users find them to be less comfortable than other options.

PBT keycaps are made of harder plastic than ABS keycaps, and they don’t wear down as easily. They’re also more comfortable to type on and don’t produce as much noise. However, PBT keycaps are typically more expensive than ABS keycaps.

ABS keycaps

Why are ABS Keycaps a Budget-friendly Option for Gamers?

Inexpensive ABS keycap kits will almost always use less material in production, and will often use mass-produced OEM profiles. Once the tooling is created for the keycap set, it can be used in a variety of different color patterns for years to come.

The advantage of manufacturers continuing to produce keycap sets for many years is that the tools to make keycap sets are very expensive. But if the keycap sets had been in production for a few years, the cost of the development tools would have paid off long ago. This allowed manufacturers to produce keycap sets for only material cost, machine operating power, and labor costs, resulting in thousands of very cheap ABS keycap sets.

However, more expensive ABS keycap sets will be heavier and use more material. When an ultra-premium ABS keycap set is manufactured, it will typically include a base kit that includes all of the keys required for a full-size keyboard as well as keycaps required for a 60%, 65%, 75%, and TKL (tenkeyless) keyboard. They could include a novelty set as well, or it could be a separate set.

Some premium ABS keycap sets are typically manufactured by top manufacturers who hire famous keycap designers to create fonts, color schemes, and artistic key inscriptions. In some cases, the keycap set may be based on, or even a collaboration with, a popular television show or film. When a special release of a keycap set is announced and pre-orders begin, it can take 6-months to over a year for them to be produced and shipped, and they can cost close to $200 for a base kit that can quickly sell out to a niche group of enthusiasts.

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How are ABS Keycaps Different from Other Types of Keycaps?

ABS keycap’s impact resistance, heat resistance, low-temperature resistance, chemical resistance, and electrical properties are excellent, and it also has the characteristics of easy processing, stable product size, good surface gloss, etc. It is easy to paint and color. Secondary processing such as surface metallization, electroplating, welding, hot pressing, and bonding can also be performed.

Therefore, compared with other materials, the overall cost of ABS engineering plastics is low. The strong plasticity reduces the difficulty of processing, and the softer texture can provide a good finger touch.

Benefits of ABS Keycaps

Despite their flexibility, ABS keycaps are made of incredibly durable plastic. Because ABS keycaps are impact-resistant, it will take a significant amount of use or force to crack one. When it comes to keycaps, ABS is much easier to work with than other materials, so the colors and legends are almost always very sharp and crisp. They can also complement RGB keyboards better than other keycaps because ABS keycaps that shine through RGB colors are much easier to make. Some people like the shininess and slick feel of ABS keycaps. ABS keycaps may also have an effect on keyboard sound, and some people prefer the sound of ABS keycaps over other materials.

Disadvantage of ABS Keycaps

One of the disadvantages of ABS keycaps is that they can be quite noisy when typing. This can be a bit of a distraction in quiet environments, or when trying to focus on a game. Additionally, some users find ABS keycaps to be less comfortable than other types of keycaps. However, the main disadvantage of ABS keycaps is that they can wear and become shiny, and the lettering can fade over time. Inscriptions printed with dye-sublimation (dye-sub) can even fade away completely.

ABS keycaps are typically lighter and made with less material, giving them a thin and cheap feel when typing. There are very premium ABS keycaps that feel very different, but these can cost upwards of $150 just for the keycap set, which is why ABS keycap sets like these are rarely included on a new keyboard.


Although ABS material keycaps are easy to get oiled, there are still high-end keyboards that use ABS material. Spraying a layer of wear-resistant material on the ABS keycap can greatly reduce the probability of oiling. Of course, this layer of the material itself is also expensive. At present, Filco is better in this regard. In addition, some brands also use the piano paint process, such as the keycaps of the RAZER Black Widow Ultimate keyboard, but the reflection and wear resistance of this surface are average.

What are PBT Keycaps?

PBT keycaps are made of harder plastic than ABS keycaps, and they don’t wear down over time as easily. They’re also more expensive than ABS keycaps, making them a better option for gamers with a higher budget. However, PBT keycaps can be less comfortable for some users.

PBT is a thermoplastic engineering polymer that is rigid and can withstand years of abuse. Because this thermoplastic is in high demand in the automotive industry, there is a limited supply of it, resulting in higher prices that can make it prohibitively expensive to sell with a keyboard. Because PBT is brittle, shaping it into keycaps is difficult and requires a costly tooling process that can only be used for one keycap set design.


PBT is a higher-cost keyboard material. Its chemical name is polybutylene terephthalate, and its English name is polybutylene terephthalate (PBT for short). It belongs to the polyester series and is composed of 1.4-pbt butanediol (1.4-Butylene Glycol) and terephthalic acid (PTA) or terephthalate (DMT) are polycondensed, and the milky white translucent to opaque, crystalline thermoplastic polyester resin is made by mixing procedure. Together with PET, it is collectively referred to as thermoplastic polyester or saturated polyester.

Benefits of PBT Keycaps

PBT has high heat resistance, toughness, fatigue resistance, self-lubricating, and low friction. Resistant to hot water, alkalis, acids, and oils, PBT is one of the toughest engineering thermoplastic materials, it is a semi-crystalline material with very good chemical stability, mechanical strength, electrical insulating properties, and thermal stability. These materials are very stable over a wide range of environmental conditions.

The wear resistance of the PBT material keycaps is quite good, and its high wear resistance even shows on the keyboard that it does not use oil for a long time, which has also been loved by many senior players. With such a strong hardness, it will be slightly harder in terms of hand feel, but when the pattern is infected, the color reproduction degree is high, and the color is not easy to fade. Its inherent light color is more suitable for the processing of keyboards such as white, and friends who like light-colored mechanical keyboards can pay more attention.


PBT also has a distinct feel that can be described as silky or smooth but not slippery, providing the typist with an additional feel and connection to the keyboard. PBT keycap sets are typically heavier and use more material than ABS keycap sets. PBT has a deeper, crisper, and less tinny sound when typing than a typical ABS keycap set, depending on the manufacturer. PBT keycaps are generally louder and clearer than ABS keycaps, which many people prefer because it improves their acoustic pleasure, and may be more appealing for inducing ASMR, or autonomous sensory meridian response, which can cause a sense of well-being while typing.

Disadvantage of PBT Keycaps

The main disadvantage of PBT keycaps is that they are frequently more expensive than ABS keycaps. When comparing a mid-range PBT keycap set to a mid-range ABS keycap set, PBT may cost nearly twice as much. Producing new high-quality double-shot PBT keycap sets is difficult and expensive, so these types of new keycap sets have fewer options. There is also a small selection of double-shot PBT keycap sets that will fit RGB and backlit keyboards. There are less expensive double-shot keycap sets available, but the second shot of plastic can be very thin with very little material used. Some people may dislike the sound of PBT keycaps because they produce a deeper sound due to the thicker plastic.

How to Choose the Right Type of Keycap for you?

There are a variety of different types of keycaps available on the market, so it can be tricky to decide which one is right for you. Here are a few things to consider when making your decision:

– ABS keycaps are the most budget-friendly option, and they’re also resistant to wear and tear. However, some users find them to be less comfortable than other types of keycaps.

– PBT keycaps are made of a harder plastic that doesn’t wear down over time. They’re also more durable than ABS keycaps, but they can be more expensive.

– Rubber dome keycaps are soft and comfortable, but they can wear down quickly.

Ultimately, the best type of keycap for you depends on your individual preferences and budget.

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ABS keycaps are a great budget-friendly option for gamers who want quality keycaps without spending too much money. While they have some disadvantages (clacky sound and less comfort than other types of keycaps), ABS keycaps offer many benefits that make them a popular choice among gamers.

As for PBT keycaps, they are another great option for gamers, as they offer superior durability and comfort over ABS caps. However, they can be more expensive than ABS caps. How to choose the right type of keycap for you will depend on your individual needs and preferences. We hope this article has helped you better understand the differences between ABS and PBT keycaps, and that you are now able to make an informed decision about which type is best for you!

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