PBT VS ABS Keycaps

PBT VS ABS Keycaps, Which One Is Better?

We all use keyboards for our daily work, as they are one of the input devices used on computers. Normal keyboards and mechanical keyboards are used on a large scale. Keyboards come in various designs and functions. There are various types of switches on multiple keyboards. A good keyboard should be easy to operate, feel soft while typing and be durable. Keyboard keycaps are also crucial in terms of the keyboard’s look, feel, and durability. There are two types of plastic material used in keyboard keycaps: PBT and ABS. This article will compare PBT vs ABS, and you will learn the differences between the keycaps and what is PBT, and what is ABS in detail.

ABS vs PBT keycaps – What Are They? 

What Are ABS Keycaps?

What Are ABS Keycaps

ABS stands for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. This is the most common plastic used to manufacture keyboard keycaps. ABS is a copolymer plastic that is used to manufacture ABS keycaps. This plastic is long-lasting, sturdy but inexpensive to produce. That’s why it is used to produce keycaps. It is durable and can resist millions of keystrokes before snapping or breaking, this is one of the reasons why some of the best keyboard brands use ABS keycaps. The disadvantage of ABS keycaps is that the prints of letters on the keycaps wear down over time. This is not an unusual problem. After heavy use of the keyboard, the keycaps become thin, and the letters start fading away. 

This keycap gives a great feel to the fingers while using them because of its smooth texture. But this feeling is only provided by some expensive ABS keycaps. A greasy or shiny look is achieved by using cheap ABS keycaps. When you compare PBT vs ABS, you will understand that the ABS keycaps are thinner. There are thick ABS keycaps available, but they are costly. The majority of ABS keycaps are formed by injection molding in a keycap form. The letters are then printed on the keycaps, depending on the manufacturer, via several processes. Pad printing, laser marking, and gravure are the most common methods.

PROS

  • These keycaps are available widely.
  • These keycaps are inexpensive.
  • Molding these keycaps is easier.

CONS

  • These keycaps provide a greasy look.
  • They make a weird sound.

What Are PBT Keycaps?

What Are PBT Keycaps

PBT stands for Polybutylene Terephthalate. This material is less commonly used to manufacture keycaps. When you compare ABS vs PBT, you will know that the keycaps are more expensive than ABS keycaps and are only used by certain premium brands such as Corsair to manufacture their white keyboards. As these keycaps are expensive to source and produce, they do not come along with any keyboard. You have to get them separately. The PBT keycaps are hard and more durable. This makes it very difficult to shape and produce them. These keycaps do not wear out over time. This means you can use them for a longer period. These keycaps are textured, and some keycaps even give a sandy feel. The more expensive the keycap is, the more textured the keycap is. PBT keycaps are more matte and thicker than ABS keycaps and are less greasy and shiny.

PROS

  • These keycaps do not wear out over time.
  • These keycaps are more durable.

CONS

  • Not used commonly.
  • Very expensive.

The Difference Between PBT vs ABS Keycaps

ABS KeycapsPBT Keycaps
These keycaps are cheaper.These keycaps are expensive.
This keycap gives a shiny/greasy look.This keycap gives a matte look.
These keycaps are smooth.These keycaps are textured.
These keycaps are thinner, but not always.These keycaps are thicker. 
These keycaps make a clicky sound.These keycap makes a thumpy sound
These keycaps are less durable.These keycaps are more durable.
These keycaps are easy to mold.These keycaps are hard to mold.
Does work great for Double Shot keycaps.Does not work great for Double Shot keycaps.

1. Cost

The cost of PBT keycaps vs ABS keycaps is often a decisive factor, particularly if you have a limited budget. Overall, ABS keycaps are more affordable because they are easier to mold and produce and thus less expensive than the PBT keycaps. Being less expensive, ABS keycaps are of lower quality than PBT keycaps. For the opposite reasons, PBT keycaps are costlier than ABS keycaps. They are difficult to source and produce and, therefore, more expensive but usually higher in quality and longer-lasting than ABS keycaps. As PBT is costly, it is not used as often as ABS keycaps, you will find a lot of keyboards under $100 that use ABS Keycaps.

2. Texture

Both the ABS keycap and the PBT keycap have different textures. ABS keycaps provide a smooth texture, and PBT keycaps provide textured surfaces. The more expensive the PBT keycap, the more texture it has. ABS keycaps give you a smooth, buttery feeling while using them, which some people prefer. The PBT keycap is more structured and offers an excellent grip while using it. Due to the smooth texture provided by ABS keycaps, over time, the keycaps start to shine due to various factors. This shiny effect does not occur in PBT keycaps because of their structure. 

3. Thickness

When you want to choose between an ABS keycap and a PBT keycap, then durability is an essential factor. The thicker the keycap, the more sturdy and long-lasting it will be. When comparing ABS keycaps vs PBT keycaps, we understand that the PBT keycap is thicker than the ABS keycap. ABS keycaps are generally thin, but the expensive ABS keycaps are thick.

4. Weight

The PBT keys weigh much more than the ABS keys in terms of weight. It is almost twice as heavy as the ABS keys. ABS keycaps are made of a lightweight plastic called a copolymer. PBT keycaps are made of high-quality plastic, making them slightly heavier than ABS keycaps. However, a heavier key can give you a smoother experience, so you’ll feel better when playing games using a PBT keycap keyboard. You will want to use an ABS keycap keyboard if you’re looking for the best option for a lighter touch. In any event, it’s your comfort and the objective you use the keyboard for.

5. Double Shot Keycaps

Double Shot Keycaps

After looking at the table mentioned above, you might be wondering, “what are double-shot keycaps?” The answer to this question is that it is a keycap made by molding two separate layers of plastic. Two layers of plastic with one layer molded for a legend and the other for a keycap hull are produced using double-shot keycaps. This design enables backlights to shine through the legends of the keys, both enhancing the RGB aspect of your keyboard and facilitating reading legends. ABS is usually used in dual shot keycaps, also known as double shot abs keycaps. This is because, during this process, it shrinks less than other plastics, although there are also double shot PBT keycaps.

6. Noise 

You should stay away from ABS keys if you don’t like a noisy keyboard or keycap. Your keys are made more clicky by the ABS keycaps. This can lead to embarrassment if you work in bureaus or quiet environments. Now, if you know what PBT are keycaps, then you are aware that they make a thumping noise when used. Now, this thumpy noise is lower than the clicky noise. Therefore, the PBT keycaps make less noise than the ABS keycaps. The PBT keycaps make the ABS keycaps deeper and deeper. The ABS keys have a lighter and higher sound.

7. Durability 

After comparing ABS keycaps to PBT keycaps, it is clear that the PBT keycaps are more durable than the ABS keycaps. ABS keycaps are easily affected by UV light, heat, chemicals, and the letters start fading away, and the keycap becomes thinner with time. PBT keycaps are resistant to UV light, chemicals, and heat, are thick, and their letters do not fade over time. All these factors make PBT keycaps more durable than ABS keycaps, and you don’t need to replace PBT keycaps for an extended period.

8. Material Used

The keycap material is essential if you want to use it for a more extended period, and it also enhances the look and feels of your keyboard. PBT keycap is made of a solid, rigid, and durable plastic though simultaneously brittle. This plastic has a textured surface and is dense. The PBT keycap plastic material has good resistance to heat, harsh chemical environments, and UV radiation. On the other hand, the ABS keycap, with a smoother texture and a more lightweight construction, is a little less durable. The ABS keycap plastic material provides good impact resistance.

Conclusion

The apparent winner of ABS vs. PBT keycap is the PBT keycap. Compared to ABS, PBT keycaps provide longer durability and a more convenient user experience. In short, PBT keycaps outperforms ABS keycaps. Having said that, PBT keycaps are costlier and harder to mold. Because of the cost, it is easier to understand that not all individuals prefer the PBT keycap features and that this depends a lot on the user’s preferences. 

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