Not everyone is that familiar with keycaps, so when you first listen to things like ABS or PBT, it could be very confusing. In this article, we will answer the question “what are ABS keycaps” and also include their pros and cons. We will also make things simple for you guys who’re on the journey […]
What are ABS Keycaps? Ultimate Guide in 2023
Not everyone is that familiar with keycaps, so when you first listen to things like ABS or PBT, it could be very confusing. In this article, we will answer the question “what are ABS keycaps” and also include their pros and cons. We will also make things simple for you guys who’re on the journey of creating your ultimate keyboards.
Let’s jump right in!
What are ABS Keycaps?
ABS means Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene. ABS keycaps are popular for their vibrant colors, smooth surface, and crisp legends, but they can also wear down and shine over time.
It is a very popular plastic that is both cheap to make and easy to mold. Hence, you can easily encounter ABS in everyday life products, such as kitchen applicants, headgear, lego toys, and of course, keyboard keycaps.
To produce a keycap (read this article about keycaps if you are not so sure what it is about), people will inject ABS in a keycap mold in order to form the shape. Then, they will make the legends through various methods, such as laser etching, pad printing, or engraving, in which the laser technique is the most common.
Apart from ABS, you may hear of other common materials, such as PBT or resin. You can take a look at this article to find out which materials are best for the keycaps or best for you.
Are ABS keycaps good?
We believe ABS is a good material to make a keycap, but it has its fair share of good and bad sides, which we will tackle down in pieces. Keep reading!
By polymerizing styrene and acrylonitrile in the presence of polybutadiene, people can connect a long chain of polybutadiene to shorter chains of polystyrene-co-acrylonitrile, resulting in a reliable, strong bond for ABS materials.
So, the question “what are ABS keycaps” can be answered in this way. ABS keycaps are keycaps that have high resilience, high impact resistance, strong chemical resistance, and wide-range-of-temperature tolerance; in short, high durability.
However, ABS keycaps, especially the cheap manufacturing ones, are somewhat vulnerable to abrasion from physical contact. The surface can also be thinner due to friction, and the colors fade under UV ray exposure. This leads to keycap shine which we will mention next.
ABS keycaps normally have a smooth and shiny surface. But, there are ABS keycaps in the market that achieve a textured or matte surface by using different painting techniques.
In addition, the process of making ABS keycaps allows them to have different colors in one keycap, opening a chance to make art out of a keyboard. Moreover, the use of colors is not limited only to neutral tones, which is why it’s easy to find bright and colorful keycaps in this material.
So, in another definition, “what are ABS keycaps?” – “They are colorful keycaps.”
As we have said that ABS is prone to the keycap shine problem. This means after a long time using, ABS keycaps show a greasy, oily look on top of the normal shiny appearance. You can read our article here about keycap shine and how to minimize the effect.
Similar to the fact that ABS keycaps shine, you can expect the texture will be smooth, not matte. Therefore, keycap enthusiasts say that typing on ABS keycaps feels soft and light. Sometimes, the smoothness can lead to some slipping issues as your fingers don’t have much friction to grip on the keycap.
However, brands can create a textured surface for ABS keycaps by controlling the painting technique, for instance, doubling the layer or making it rougher. Those keycaps can be felt the same as PBT, meaning it is better for typing.
ABS keycaps produce a mild-to-low, soft sound when typing. Since the layer is quite thin, the sound lacks resonance, making it hollow and dull.
You can check out the typical sound coming from an ABS keycap keyboard in the video below.
Prices for ABS keycaps can be varied widely. They could be very cheap as well as very expensive. But, most ABS keycaps are on the cheap side, resulting in keyboards with these keycaps mostly on the budget scale.
Here is a quick summary of the advantages and disadvantages of “what are ABS keycaps” for you to grasp things easier.
So, are ABS keycaps good for you? Our answer is Yes if you
Those drawbacks of ABS keycaps can be reduced significantly if you opt for high-quality ones, for example, doubleshot or dye-sub legend. Hence, keep that in mind for better durability.
Well, good keycaps are not only about the materials, even though it takes up the largest pie. There are other factors you should consider carefully, and the first step for that is to understand the types of keycaps out there. Here is a helpful article that covers the right amount of everything you will need.
Best ABS Keycaps Set
After the “what are ABS keycaps” long introduction, it would be a waste if we didn’t introduce to you the five best ABS keycaps. We believe they are good enough to confidently say “Yes” when being asked, “are ABS keycaps good?”
Best ABS keycaps
$39 (on sale)
$20 (on sale)
*Picture’s source: Drop.com
*Price updated before July, 10th 2023
Drop + RedSuns GMK Red Samurai Keycap Set
Quite a pricey ABS keycap set, for sure. This collaboration between Drop and designer RedSuns brings forth a beautiful Japanese warrior armor vibe through subdued deep red keycaps. If you are a fan of feudal era or samurai movies, you will want to take a closer look at this keyboard.
Additionally, this best keycap set can be used for both standard and compact layouts, so you won’t have a hard time matching the keycaps to the right position.
Let’s watch a review from nearLucid to see if they worth it!
Drop + T0mb3ry SA Carbon Custom Keycap Set
An iconic retro combination of white – orange – gray sets a solid foundation for making the aesthetic funky Tomb3ry Carbon keycap set. You can customize the keyboard in many ways by picking between their offering keycap kits.
This set aims to give people a unique space for art, like the bold and colorful graffiti on the street. If you are a fan of retro 90s culture, don’t miss out on this best ABS keycap.
Jukebox x Tai-Hao Cubic Keycap Set
Tai-hao again creates a masterpiece for keyboard lovers in collaboration with Livingspeedbump. With three main colors, red, mint, and white, the Jukebox x Tai-Hao Cubic is really like candy to the eyes.
Moreover, it’s suitable for gaming and typing purposes as the keycaps are made grippy to reduce slippery. Well, the high price has its reason, doesn’t it?
ALPS Switches Doubleshot ABS Keycaps
This best ABS keycap set is definitely for ALPS-switch users. It’s not easy to find a good abs keycap set for an ALPS keyboard, not to mention a beautiful one at that. But, Tai-hao completes the mission.
The mix of dark gray and red is not very unusual, but the brand knows how to choose the right shade to make it aesthetically pleasing. If you are more on the traditional side, there is a mix of dark gray and black, which is also as cool.
DOMIKEY ABS Doubleshot SA Cyberpunk Pumper Keycap
Are you a fan of the cyberpunk genre? Are you a fan of neon cult classic cinema? Are you a fan of mechanical keyboards? Well, these three questions, in some way, sum up nicely what Domikey brings to the keyboard community. These best keycaps are pretty solid and durable.
Furthermore, they are crazily beautiful with purple, pink, blue, and yellow. Not knowing what you think, but we literally jumped up when seeing the keyboard for the first time.
Even though it’s true that ABS keycaps’ place is behind PBT ones in terms of quality, nowadays, on the high-end side, ABS keycaps can compete easily with PBT within the same rank. So, you don’t have to worry about “Are ABS keycaps good enough to ignore their limitations?” or “Will ABS keycaps shine too much after a long time?” if you have fallen for the colorful ABS keycaps.
As the price drops gradually, the key is to look long enough, and your best ABS keycaps will appear. It’s just like those ABS keycaps we are currently using to type these words.
That concludes our ending of the long “what are ABS keycaps” article. We hope it is truly helpful for you guys. Thanks for reading!
What does ABS stand for in ABS keycaps?
ABS is short for Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene.
Are ABS keycaps good for gaming?
As ABS keycaps are very smooth, your fingers can slip easily when typing, which is very undesirable in gaming. There are high-quality ABS keycaps that tackle the slippery problem. Therefore, if you want to find the best ABS keycaps for gaming, look for terms like “anti-slippery” or “grippy.”
Are ABS keycaps good for typing?
Again, the smoothness and lightweight of ABS keycaps can lead to slippery issues. That is the cause of typos or finger fatigue. But, there are ABS keycaps that have thicker layers or grippy surfaces, which work well for typing.
Are ABS keycaps worth it?
ABS keycaps are still very good to use despite some problems like a shiny look or fading legends, especially if you consider their price, which is cheap most of the time.
Do ABS keycaps make a loud noise when typing?
Most ABS keycaps do not make a loud noise when typing due to the plastic’s characteristics and also manufacturing. To be precise, they have soft, hollow sounds.
Are ABS keycaps expensive?
Most ABS keycaps are very cheap, but you can still find high-end keycaps that are comparable to top-notch PBT fellows.
Do ABS keycaps last long?
They can last for quite an amount of time, but compared to other materials like PBT, they tend to show problems faster.
What causes ABS keycaps to shine?
Both by being thinner due to friction and by being exposed to UV rays, the surfaces of ABS keycaps shine or look greasy.
How do I stop my ABS keycaps from shining?
Unfortunately, you cannot stop the process (even with the more acknowledged PBT keycaps). However, you can postpone the ending by frequently cleaning up your keyboard. One tip to improve the shiny problem is using an eraser to rub the surface in a circular motion, but please test it out with some keys before doing the whole keyboard.