When using your PC, whether it’s fragging in your favorite FPS title, casting spells in the latest expansion of a popular MMORPG, or engaging in a heated debate on Reddit, there is one constant ⎼ your keyboard is the primary input method and link between you and your rig. Your keyboard and its keycaps have to feel good, look good, and not crack under the pressure. Fortunately, CORSAIR offers high quality ABS keycaps with our keyboards, as well as a PBT Doubleshot keycap upgrade for power users and those looking to refresh their favorite keyboard. So, just what does this all mean? Keep reading to find out, as we take a look at the differences between ABS and PBT, and discuss how keycaps are produced!
ABS – What is it?
ABS or polyacrylonitrile-butadiene-styrene is a very versatile polymer used in a wide range of applications. It’s also the most commonly used plastic for keycaps. ABS is relatively strong, lightweight, and easy to work with, making it an ideal candidate for mass production. ABS is the industry standard for keycaps, and a great choice for most people. However, ABS can wear down over time and become “shiny”, and it is slightly more prone to discoloration from UV light or solvents like acetone. From a manufacturing standpoint, ABS keycaps are single injection molded and either dyed or screen-printed the desire color. Then, the legends are either screen-printed or laser-etched to the surface of the keycap.
PBT Doubleshot – What is it?
PBT or polybutylene terephthalate is a polymer that’s often used as an electrical insulator, for example, in automotive electrical connectors, but it also has many other uses. PBT has very high wear resistance and it’s also resistant to UV discoloration, which are both highly desirable qualities for parts under constant use, such as keycaps for a keyboard. PBT also has a slightly grainy texture (shown below), and since it’s very wear resistant, the keys won’t become shiny and smooth under normal use.
Enlarged to show texture of PBT material
Now that you know a little bit about the material, let’s discuss the molding process used for our premium keycaps. Typically, keycaps are injection molded from one plastic, translucent for backlit keyboards or opaque for non-backlit keyboards. After molding is complete, the keycaps are dyed. In contrast, our PBT Doubleshot keycaps use a “doubleshot” molding process where the base plastic is injection molded, then another plastic, usually in another color and opacity, is molded over the base. Don’t let the term “doubleshot” fool you; more than two colors may be used. Shown below is the underside of our premium keycaps. Notice the translucent plastic making up the connector stem and underside of the top plate, while the rest of the keycap is opaque white.
Underside of PBT Doubleshot keycaps
Benefits of Upgrading to PBT
As mentioned earlier, there are some major benefits when upgrading to our PBT Doubleshot keycaps. First, PBT’s wear resistance is much higher than ABS plastic, and this ensures the texture of the keycaps remains intact for a long time. Another benefit is the “doubleshot” molding process which means the lettering and texture stand up better to heavy usage. The biggest benefit is refreshing a keyboard you love with a simple and inexpensive upgrade, rather than springing for a whole new keyboard. Replacing the keycaps is a quick process, especially since the keycap set includes a keycap puller, and many people end up preferring the feel of the PBT keycaps after they’ve upgraded.
What’s Best for You?
Are you a casual gamer or light PC user? ABS is probably going to suit you just fine.
Are you a heavy/power PC user or a hardcore gamer? PBT might be a better choice, since your keycaps are under heavy, constant use.
Where to Buy
We offer our PBT Doubleshot keycaps in black and white in our online store. Both colors have a translucent base layer and are compatible with most of our RGB keyboards. Additionally, the beautiful K70 RGB Mk. 2 SE includes the white PBT Doubleshot keycaps (shown below), which can also be found in our online store.
K70 RGB MK.2 SE
Our PBT Doubleshot keycap sets come in full 104/105 configurations to cater to users who want either US ANSI or International ISO layouts, and includes a keycap puller to make the upgrade quick and easy.
Full 104/105 Configuration Keycaps Included
As always, thanks for reading and happy gaming!