On the episode 73465834041 of How I Met Your Mother, now we have the honor to introduce How Your Keycap Was Born, we again love over-sharing the way making keycap. At this point, you can call it an obsession.
But there’s a charm in sharing TMI. And this time, we will go into detail!
First, let’s oversimplify the whole process, so you can understand whatever we will bullshit in long sentences and paragraphs.
MAKING KEYCAP IN VISUALIZATION
> Sketch the idea
>> Model 3D prototype
THE KEYCAP IN MAKING
>> 3D-print the base
>> 3D-print the elements
>> Fill the protective resin.
>> Put the keycap in the chamber
>> Polish the keycap
THE KEYCAP IN FULL PACKAGING
Before actually making the prototype for a keycap, we usually spend a whole lot of time visualizing the keycap. But as always, it can only start with a specific idea, which either we just come up with, or already is in the notebook, on a tissue, a flavor-protective foil of tobacco or gum, any blank paper we can find.
The idea can come from anywhere, and at any time. Like one summer day, one of us saw a ladybug. It was so small that you could keep it in a keycap, and several days later we made the first keycap ever.
>> Sketch the idea
With the idea, we will visualize the keycap in detail. How the main object and the subsidiaries would look, how many elements will be put in the keycap, how the whole thing would look in different angles.
>> Model the 3D prototype
When we decide to produce a keycap with a big volume, we study 3D printing and learn to use the help of new technology. So after we have the detailed sketch, we will model on the computer. In this stage, the more details we did, the easier to make the keycaps afterward.
THE KEYCAP IN MAKING
Making keycap has its own fun and nightmares. The most important feeling is when you see how your idea becomes a real thing. It exists and carries a part of our souls, exuding an avaricious vibe.
>> The keycap without any colors
We used to print the whole keycap at first, but it was hard to get the color done as a whole object. The keycap itself looked boring, lifeless, and lacked detail. To fix this problem, we separated the elements in one keycap, printed them individually. For example, the Anura 2.0, we print the base first, then the little frog and tiny dragonfly. Same as Happy Hippo, we print the swamp-shape base, then the Hippo, the boat, and the tree body.
>> Jazz up the tiny worlds
It’s sometimes like the coloring book you have for the quarantine. You color each part with different colors and the big pictures will be something awesome. Or disastrous if it was your first time doing such.
As the Dwarfs, we have meticulous hands that are suitable for just coloring. But most of the time, the most difficult thing about this step is which color we should use. If we want to push the sale, we can just use the available keyset’s colorway. And that would be boring, so we always try to come up with a new mixture of colors, with new effects we can add up, such as the hologram effect. To be fair, we surely have more disastrous first-tries with coloring than you in the quarantine with the coloring book.
When we have the bases, the main characters, and the support subsidiaries in abundant colors, we will put them together and cover the keycap with a flimsy clear resin layer. Gotta admit it feels like a God-play.
>> Wrap it up with resin
This part of the whole process can be the easiest part and the hardest part at the same time.
If the condition (read: resin) is perfect, then we just dump everything in the SA, DO, DOM mold and wait for it to get dried (this step can be done much faster and efficient with the vacuum chamber).
(The first time hearing about DOM? See more about DOM profile)
For some special designs such as Albert XI, this clear resin part of the keycap can affect heavily on the original. To make the design work, we created a new mold every time the cover layer fails delivering the best image of the monkey’s face.
When the Coronavirus hit hard on the economy and transportation, we also lost many resin resources. Either we stop producing keycaps altogether, or make good use of any resources we can find at the time, of course, we chose the latter. The new resin isn’t as good (as in getting dried as fast as the previous one), but hardworking and creative solutions will make up for it.
After the resin dries up, we will put it under the high-speed grinder so the surface can be smooth, and look clearer.
THE KEYCAP IN FULL PACKAGING
The job is picking up every keycap, looking or staring at it for a long time and in many angles, nitpicking every mistake possible and deciding whether it’s quality enough to get packed and sent. But eyes looking at something for a long time will make the brain miss some errors. Well, that’s what we learned from a scientific article while searching for ideas for Apollo keycap. It explains a lot and through this, we also want to apologize for any defected keycap we sent you. And in that case we would be happy to send you a replacement!
A keycap passes the QC will be cleaned up one last time with a cloth. It will be put in the box and sent to the Post. Our job at the Factory is quite finished. What left is the defect keycaps will be destroyed and recycled for the stem.
And that’s how we making keycap from the idea that popped into our heads until it appeared on your keyboard. This is probably the longest and most enthusiastic article coming from us. Hopefully, when you read to this point in the article, you receive something as we gave our heart to you, open and straightforward.
“ And when the production time is longer than expected, you would be more understanding and considering for Dwarf Factory :P”