If you’re in the mechanical keyboard game and looking to upgrade your keycaps–you might come across several different terms. “ABS” and “PBT” and “doubleshot.” And doubleshot keycaps are available in both PBT and ABS plastics. Therefore, in the earlier days of mechanical keyboards, the prevailing wisdom was that PBT doubleshoot keycaps were higher quality and more desirable than ABS doubleshoot keycaps from any lens. Unfortunately, it’s not longer that simple. Today, this article is written to introduce PBT doubleshoot keycaps,the differnences between PBT keycaps and ABS keycaps,and some tips for you to choose a right PBT doubleshot keycaps.
An introduction to PBT doubleshot keycaps
PBT doubleshoot keycaps are a popular option for aftermarket keycaps. They are made from quality material and hold up well over time. Some users prefer other materials, but PBT doubleshoot keycaps are an excellent choice for most gaming setups.
PBT stands for Polybutylene Terephthalate and is the most durable material used in keycap manufacturing. However, this material is more challenging to work with, which often raises the price of PBT keycaps. Most PBT keycaps give people a jerky touch feeling. But the PBT material keycap will not be marked with a little oil, sweat stains as long as you wipe with paper, immediately the same as new. And PBT material is more durable, it is resistant to high temperatures, can be dipped, can also be sublimated.
So what is “doubleshot”? The term “double-shot” refers to the process through which keycaps are made. This process has been around since the 1970s!
Plastic is “shot” or injected in two different molds during construction.
1. The first piece of plastic is the keycap with a hollow legend( A legend is the printed or embedded text on a keycap. I.e. your “a” key probably has an “a” printed on the top of the keycap. This is the legend.)
2. The second piece is transparent and includes the legend. It’s pushed up inside the outer keycap piece
The two pieces form together into one smooth keycap (you can’t feel where the two plastics meet at all.
How can you tell if a key is doubleshot?
There are 2 ways to tell if a keycap is doubleshot.
1. Take the keycap off of your keyboard and look underneath. Is there a transparent white/grey plastic underneath? It’s probably a doubleshot keycap
2. Look at the legend on top of the keycap. Is it transparent-ish? Or printed in white or color dye?
If your keyboard is on with backlighting, you should easily be able to tell if the legend is transparent or not. There will be light shining through!
How are PTB Doubleshot keycaps made?
Here’s how the process works:
1. A mold of PBT plastic is shaped into the keycap
2. This “outer” plastic has a “cutout” of the legend missing on the top, and is also thinner than standard keycaps (because they are about to add another layer of plastic underneath)
3. A 2nd mold is created (usually with transparent plastic) that will fit underneath the 1st mold
4. This insert molding has the legend protruding from the top, which will fill into the open space from the first top mold
The two pieces are then injected together to form one solid keycap.
Therefore, in short, PBT doubleshot keycaps are made of two different colors of plastic that are injected into a mold at the same time. This process is commonly used when making keycaps for RGB backlit keyboards and high-quality keycaps without backlight support and creates a keycap with two visible layers- one for each color. They are popular among keyboard enthusiasts because they are more durable and resistant to fading than standard ABS keycaps.
PBT keycaps VS ABS keycaps:
ABS and PBT plastics make up 99% of keycaps these days. So what are the differences between PBT and ABS?
ABS stands for “acrylonitrile butadiene styrene,” and is a long-time material used for keycaps.
ABS plastic is generally cheaper, feels very smooth and looks more shiny. (especially after years of use)
ABS keycaps themselves will be very durable, but the biggest drawback is that the plastic will wear down and become more shiny and smooth overtime. The legends might even fade away at some point (unless it’s a doubleshot ABS)!
On the other hand, there is a relatively new plastic called PBT (“Polybutylene Terephthalate”).
PBT keycaps are more expensive and more of a matte finish. It feels a bit textured. PBT is also a bit thicker (and therefore louder) than ABS plastic.
Cheap PBT keycaps can have a rough texture, but quality keycaps will maintain a pleasant textured feel. Some sets of PBT keycaps are also thicker than ABS keycaps, but this is not always the case.
In order to make you see more intuitively, here are a couple of 4 core truths when comparing PBT and ABS. Outside of these truths, other things such as cost and thickness of keycaps are dependent on manufacturer.
ABS will get shiny and slick, PBT will not
ABS keycaps will wear with use, causing the surface of the cap to become shinier and slipperier. This shining will cause your keycaps to look inconsistent on the higher use caps.
PBT keycaps keep their texture and look for a much longer period of time. However, cheap PBT keycaps can have a rough texture, but quality keycaps will maintain a pleasant textured feel. Some sets of PBT keycaps are also thicker than ABS keycaps, but this is not always the case.
How long before ABS shines?
This depends on how often you’re using the computer, and how vigorously you type. People have reported shine within 6 months with it steadily getting shinier.
ABS produces a softer sound, PBT produces a crisper sound
ABS is a softer plastic and produces a milder, softer sound. PBT is harder and produces a more tactile sound. Neither is better, it’s up to preference, but there are a lot of fans of the sound a premium ABS keycap like GMK produces. PBT keycaps typically produce a deeper sound when typing. Key switches are another important factor in noise production. Near-silent switch options can help soften the deep noise produced by thicker PBT keycaps when bottoming out against the keyboard.
ABS will have more vibrant colour options
ABS keycaps are generally more vibrant with way more design options from multiple manufacturers. ABS is easier to mix colours into.
PBT has a few colour options but they’re usually not vivid bright colours that you can find on ABS caps.
PBT is more prone to warping and bending on larger keycap sizes
PBT keycaps have issues with warping when cooling off in the manufacturing process, this is most pronounced in long keys, especially 7u spacebars.
How to choose the right PBT doubleshot keycap
After we know the differences between PBT keycaps and ABS keycaps, you may have a knowledge about your choice. So if you prefer to buy a PBT doubleshot keycap, I will give you some tips to help you choose the right PBT doubleshot keycaps for your needs.
When choosing PBT doubleshot keycaps, there are a few things you need to consider:
– What type of keyboard you have
– The size of the keycaps
– The shape of the keycaps
– Whether the keycaps are printed or blank
Here are some tips on how to choose the right PBT doubleshot keycap for your needs:
1. Consider the type of keyboard you have. If you have a mechanical keyboard, it’s important to get PBT doubleshot keycaps that are compatible with MX switches.
2. Pay attention to the size of the keycaps. Some PBT doubleshot keycaps are made for smaller keyboards, while others are designed for larger keyboards.
3. Choose the right shape for your keys. Not all PBT doubleshot keycaps are shaped the same way. You may want to find keycaps that match the shape of your original keys.
4. Consider whether you want printed or blank keycaps. Printed keycaps often feature text or graphics on top of the two colors of plastic, while blank keycaps only have the two colors of plastic without any printing.
Pros of PBT doubleshot keycaps:
PBT doubleshot keycaps are growing in popularity because they offer a superior typing experience and are more durable than standard ABS keycaps. PBT keycaps are made of a durable plastic that is resistant to fading and chipping. And if you’re looking for a way to add personality to your keyboard, PBT doubleshot keycaps are a great option. Because they are also available in a variety of colors and styles, so you can find the perfect set to match your keyboard. Not only do they look great, but they also provide a superior typing experience.
Here are some specific benefits of PBT doubleshot keycaps:
1. They are more durable than standard ABS keycaps.
2. They are resistant to fading and chipping.
3. They are available in a variety of colors and styles.
4. They are compatible with most mechanical keyboards.
5. They are easy to clean.
6. They provide a superior typing experience.
7. They add personality to your keyboard.
8. They are a great way to show your love for keyboards and typography.
9. They make your keyboard look more professional.
10. They are a great way to stand out from the crowd.
Cons of PBT doubleshot keycaps:
1. Often more expensive (because the manufacturing process is a bit more involved).
2. Fewer color options (doubleshot keycaps are usually 2-tone only, no fancy prints). The color is not so bright compared to ABS, and it is not particularly eye-catching.
3. The fluidity of PBT is poor. Its shrinkage rate is much higher than ABS, and the keycap injection molding is easier to deform.
But honestly, that’s about it. Doubleshot keycaps are available just about anywhere these days and are of fantastic quality!
ABS is the standard material that is used in most keycaps. It is durable, but it can also be prone to fading and staining. PBT is a newer material that is becoming more popular among keyboard enthusiasts. It is more durable than ABS and does not fade or stain as easily. Plus, it provides a superior typing experience.
So if you’re looking for a new set of keycaps, and you want the best possible typing experience, then you should definitely check out PBT doubleshot keycaps. These keycaps are made from a high-quality plastic called PBT, which makes them more durable than standard ABS keycaps. They also come in a variety of colors and styles, so you can find the perfect set to match your keyboard. And finally, the most important thing: they provide a superior typing experience that is sure to please any keyboard enthusiast.
PBT doubleshot keycaps are a reliable and durable choice for keycaps. Some users might not like PBT keycaps’ look or sound, but many gamers consider them the best option when purchasing a new keycap set. If you’re in the market for a new set of keycaps, PBT doubleshot keycaps are a great option. They are more durable than standard ABS keycaps and come in a variety of colors and styles. Plus, they provide a superior typing experience that is sure to please any keyboard enthusiast.