The keycaps on today's mechanical keyboards are precision-engineered and crafted using specialized manufacturing processes. But have you ever wondered exactly how these miniature works of art are actually made? In this post, we'll take a peek behind the curtain and break down the step-by-step creation process for the most common keycap production methods.
INSERT MOLDING (Double Shot)
Two-shot insert molded keycaps are unsurpassed in cosmetic appeal and graphic durability making them ideal for high use applications such as computer keyboards, phone systems, POS devices and industrial gauges and controls. With over 30 years experience in this two-stage manufacturing process, Signature Plastics continues to provide unique keycap solutions to customers worldwide.
There have been numerous inquiries as to the actual "font" that Signature Plastics uses for their standard keycaps. Over 30 years ago a font was developed, based on a modified IBM standard, using a Gorton engraving machine. Thus our standard font, Gorton Modified was born.There is no electronic file of this particular font, however Arial or Helvetica come very close. Today we can offer 3 additional line fonts - subject to a fee. Check out the link to the left for specifics!
An international keyboard supplier found that pad printing Farsi keycaps was the most economical solution for their customer's low volume requirements. In-house graphic and plate making capability is not only more economical, it also allows for quick turn-around on prototype and expedited keycap sets. Manufacturing capacity is supported by four printing presses which include rotary part loading and removal stations as well as a 4-color linear indexing press.
A leading supplier of digital video editing keyboards found Signature Plastics' sublimation printing process the right solution for their complex graphic requirements. Using this process, an entire keyboard containing multi-colored graphics can be printed within a single print cycle. Signature Plastics' sublimation printing capabilities include several presses at the molding machines as well as two return loop printing stations complete with vibratory bowl feeders and auto baggers.
PAINTING & ENGRAVING
Backlit keyboards continue to grow in popularity. Not only do they provide a functional solution in certain environments, they also have a growing aesthetic appeal. Signature Plastics has the ability to paint and engrave custom non-standard keycaps to meet your unique backlit application. CNC engraving cuts through the layer of paint to reveal the translucent molded keycap, allowing light to pass through. The highly durable flat enamel paint on the tough polycarbonate keycaps ensures years of reliable use. Contact customer service today to discuss your custom needs!
Signature Plastics' 30,000 square foot facility is located on 16 acres in rural Whatcom County, approximately 120 miles north of Seattle, Washington. Our 26 molding machines range in size from 28 ton to 260 ton with shot capacity up to 620 grams (22 ounces). Nine machines are equipped with robotic part handlers including a 3-color machine with a rotary platen and a 5-axis CNC robot. We have a broad assortment of secondary operation equipment which is detailed below.
Engineering / Production Capabilities
- Part / Tool Design and Build
- Rapid Prototyping
- Two-Shot Insert Molding
- Soft Touch Over-Molding
- Gasket Molding
- Pad Printing
- Sublimation Printing
- Paint and Engraving
- Sonic Welding
- Sonic and Thermal Insertion
- Thin Film Vacuum Forming
- Custom Color Matching