Switch film is an excellent method to tackle the wobble issue of your mechanical switches. To make sure you can maximize the stabilizing effect of keyboard switch film here is your ultimate guide on how to film switches on a mechanical keyboard.
In this article, you will learn steps of how to film switches, and find out why and what to choose from mechanical switch film. So, don’t miss out on anything!
What are Switch Films?
Switch film usually looks like a small piece of plastic with rectangle cuts inside so it can be put in between the top and bottom housing of mechanical switches to make it tighter.
Besides plastic, switch films can be rubber, PLA plastic, foam, or polycarbonate plastic. Based on the sound effect you want to produce, you should choose the proper materials for your mechanical switch films.
How to Install Switch Films
Here is your step-by-step instruction on how to film switches for a mechanical keyboard.
First, you will discover the necessary tools for the job and second, you will learn the magical steps that guarantee to succeed all the time (well, that’s mostly because it’s really easy to film mechanical switches)
Required tools for Filming Switches
You cannot complete the job without the right switch film on hand. Aside from a big number of different materials, there are also many switch film brands out there. To save you time, we will talk about switch films and their brands for you to pick from near the end of this article.
Usually, you should buy more switch films than the number of mechanical switches that you want to film. That is for when things go wrong so you need a backup to redo. Just buy as many extras as you feel like you will need.
There are metallic and plastic switch openers in the market. Of course, a plastic one will be way cheaper but we recommend you invest a little bit more to switch openers made of aluminum or steel (or at least a very good plastic one).
The reason is that metal is much stronger and way more durable to open the mechanical switches. A strong and stable switch opener can assist you super well without tiring your fingers or breaking your expensive switches.
Just remind you a little bit. Sometimes, the number of switches you need to film does not stop at 10. It can be 50 or more in fact.
There is a high chance you will drop or break the switch films if handling them with your fingers only. That is why we think a good tweezer is necessary to do the job meticulously. It does not only reduce the dropping rate but also makes the keyboard switch film process faster and easier.
You could use a tweezer that’s already there in your house. We think a tweezer with a sharp point will be the most suitable one for the job so grab it if you can.
Lubing Equipment (Optional)
Well, if you have already opened the mechanical switches, why don’t use this opportunity to lube them? For the lubing additional stage, you will need a small lubing tube like the one in the picture and things are mostly done.
We recommend Krytox 205 as it is a good buddy for the lubing job.
Steps to Filming Switches
There will be 6 steps but trust us, each step only has 1 or 2 actions and things are truly not hard at all.
Remove the Switches from your Keyboard
If you want to film the mechanical switches that were bought separately with the keyboard, you can skip this step.
For those who want to film switches on their mechanical keyboard, a keycap puller will be helpful. First, pull out the keycap with the keycap puller. Second, if you need to desolder the switches, use a desoldering gun. Then, use the keycap puller one more time to take out the switches.
If you don’t have the keycap puller, this video below will show you the way, so you don’t need to place a completely new order just for a mere keycap puller. Or, you can read this article if your learning type is reading.
Take the Switches Apart
Now, it’s time to dismantle the mechanical switches for a switch film. In this stage, you should organize the parts of your opening switches in order not to make a mess on your working table.
Here is how you open them with a switch opener. First, place the mechanical switch inside the switch opener and make sure the switch tabs align with the corresponding bars.
After that, you press on the cross-shaped stem until it creates a ‘click’ sound and opens. Just like in the video below. Note that you should take a picture of the direction of the top and bottom housing so you have a reference later on.
A video bonus for you – How to open different mechanical switches without a switch opener. For people who want to go for – ahem, hard mode.
Lube the Switch (Optional)
The act of lubing those mechanical switches can improve the sound quality and reduce the scratchiness from mid-level switch brands like Kailh or Outemu. It will take 1 or 2 extra steps so consider if you want to do it or not. (We writers say you should go for it)
If you choose to level up your switches with lubing, there is a whole article to follow the process so here you are ‘how to lube mechanical keyboard switches’
Place the Film onto the Switch
How to film switches cannot be done without this step. First, you need to recognize the difference between switch films for LED effect and switch films not for LED. That is because switch films for LED effect will have one small rectangle cut and one large square cut that should be put in the right direction.
To switch films with only one large cut, you don’t need to care about the direction. Just use the tweezer to place it on top of the bottom housing.
Regarding LED effect switch films, the small area will be placed in the position where LED lights will go through while the large area will align with the edge line of the bottom housing.
If you put the switch films in the right way, there will be no extra film sticking out when closing the switch nor crunchy sound when pressing the key.
Reassemble the Switch
We hope you remember how you open the switches so you can close them at this point. But, if you do not, it’s okay since this guide is here for you.
First, put the spring on top of the bottom housing (look at the picture). Then, place the stem on top of the spring with its leg facing the metal leaf. Hold the top housing and place it in the correct direction like the picture you have taken when opening it. Or, you can use an untouched mechanical switch for a reference.
Install switches Into Your Keyboard and Test
The last stage of this how-to film switches step-by-step is rearranging the filmed mechanical switches on your keyboard.
If you have a hot-swappable keyboard, things will be pretty easy as you just need to insert the switches into the keyboard and then close the keycap.
But, if your keyboard is not a hot-swap one, you should check out the video below from Brandon to learn the soldering steps for your keyboard.
Which Keyboard Switches Need to be Filmed?
How to check if your switch requires filming?
Even though the steps of how to film switches on a mechanical keyboard are not difficult, the number of switches you need to film is quite large to look down on. Hence, it’s best to be sure whether you should film keyboard switches.
Follow the steps below to get your answer.
Secure the Switch
Put the switch onto your keyboard and make sure it stays there firm and secure.
Wiggle the Switch Around
Use a tweezer to hold both sides of the stem. Pull it around to check the wobble and don’t forget to look closely at the top and bottom housing.
Decide if the Switch Needs Film
While wiggling the switch, if you see the housing wobble, the switch film should be introduced.
Should you Film Gateron Inks Switches?
Yes, you should. And to film Gateron Ink switches, you should go for a thin film like TX films. That is because the top housing of Gateron Ink is not that loose. Therefore, a thick film can do a terrible job.
What about Razer Huntsman Optical Switches?
No, you shouldn’t. The main reason is that Razer Optical switches are already very smooth to type on, so putting on a switch film won’t show that much improvement. If you want to lower the sound, you should lube the switches only or use a dampening foam.
Can you Film Hotswap Keyboards?
Yes, you can. And it will be quite ideal since with a hot-swap keyboard, you won’t have to desolder the switches and then solder them back. Therefore, the switch film process will happen as fast as the wind.
Other than hot-swap keyboard, you can film switches on PCB mount or plate mount types.
What are the Benefits of using switch films?
The obvious contribution of switch film is wobble reduction. Thanks to that, you can achieve the consistency of pressing keys on the keyboard, and also you no longer suffer from scratchy typing and sound.
Different Types of Switch Wobble
You switch stem moves a little bit due to there being space between the top housing and the stem, and this wobble is normal.
Top Housing Wobble
When the switch’s top housing is not stable and moves around, the result is inconsistent switch typing and an annoying sound. Fortunately, you can reduce the unwanted effect with switch films.
Bottom Housing Wobble
Normally, when the top housing wiggles, it will drag the bottom housing waggles together. The degree of wobble varies on the switch type and brand but overall, it can be reduced thanks to the switch film attaching between the top and bottom housing.
What Films Do To Wobble
Sometimes, due to the design or poor production, there is still space between the top and bottom housing. Therefore, when pressing the switch, they will create a wobble and weird sounds.
By putting a thin layer as a switch film between the two housings, the space is reduced and the housings fit tighter. Therefore, no more wobble is guaranteed as well as unwanted sounds.
What are the Drawbacks of using switch films?
One of the first disadvantages is this modding method requires some work to do, especially if your keyboard is not hot-swappable. Thus, you should use how to check if your keyboard needs switch films before opening any switches.
The second minor drawback is due to the poor switch-film making. If the switch film is not symmetrical, it will cause binding to your mechanical switch.
Would Switch films Interfere with the LEDs?
The answer is no. We have mentioned there was a switch film for the LED effect. There would be a small rectangle cut so the light can go through so obviously, nothing will get in the way of the LED light.
Where to Get Switch Films?
There are a lot of switch films in the market and you can get them at reasonable prices on Amazon, eBay, or other keyboard marketplaces easily.
We will mention four film brands that are trustworthy if you don’t want to go exploring what’s out there. Now, let’s check them out.
Durock Switch Film
The first brand we want to mention here is Durock switch films. The switch films are made of polycarbonate plastic (PC) on the top side and heat transfer vinyl (HTV) on the bottom side. Durock only produces one size of 0.15 mm and all the switch films come in clear transparent color. The price is cheap and it’s easy to install the Durock switch film so we highly recommend this brand.
KBDfans Switch Film
KDBfans switch films use only black foam and the result is a good film that can enhance the switch sound quality. Moreover, the switch films are 0.2 mm thick so they are suitable for loose switches, and in contrast, they are not recommended for quite fitted switches.
TX Switch Film
TX switch films are made of PC only and they are 0.12 – 0. 15 mm thick. The products come in various colors just like the pictures so you can have fun playing with colors. TX is one of the most popular switch film brands thanks to its good quality product. A great choice for filming keyboard switches.
Deskeys Switch Film
The last brand we want to mention in this article is Deskeys switch films. They are one of the thickest films on the market, at 0.3 mm. The cool thing about the brand is the switch film’s material can be compressed to adjust to different switches despite the thickness.
So, after reading this far, you have learned how to know when your keyboard needs filming and how to film a switch on a keyboard successfully. Besides, we also introduce four switch brands and answer some questions relating to switch films.
We truly hope this article will aid you to the fullest in your journey of tacking the keyboard wobble with switch films. Thanks for reading with us.
Would Switch films Interfere with the lighting?
No, mechanical switch films won’t interfere with LED light because firstly it is transparent or has a clear color, and secondly, there is a special cut so the light can get through.
Should I Lube or Film my Switches First?
You should lube the switches first and then place the switch films on top of the bottom housing.
Are Filming Switches Worth it?
Yes, they are. Keyboard switch film will reduce the wobble and also increase the consistent rate of your keyboard. Moreover, it improves the switch sounds so no more rattle noise from your keyboard.