As mechanical keyboards continue to gain popularity among professionals and enthusiasts alike, finding the perfect keycaps to personalize and enhance the typing experience is becoming critical.
One of the most renowned keycap manufacturers in the market is GMK (GMK Electronic Design GmbH), known for producing the gold standard of keycaps.
In this blog post, let’s delve into the world of GMK keycaps and understand what sets them apart from the competition.
What is GMK?
GMK is an abbreviation for the German-based company, GMK electronic design GmBH’s founders Manfred Güntner, Jürgen Meinhardt, and Wolfgang Kredler. GMK was founded in 1992 and they are a brand that specializes in the production of bespoke, double-shot keycaps using original Cherry MX tooling.
History of GMK and the origin of GMK keycaps
Founded in 1992, GMK is a German company that initially started in the electronic industry but later focused on mechanical keyboard accessories. Their collaboration with the well-known Cherry Corporation propelled them into the mechanical keyboard community.
GMK acquired Cherry’s tooling and expertise in keycap production, making them the only company capable of producing authentic Cherry profile keycaps. Over the years, they have continued to maintain the same high-quality production methods and standards, earning them respect within the keyboard enthusiast community.
What are GMK Keycaps?
GMK keycaps are premium, high-quality keycaps that are designed for mechanical keyboards.
The company is well-renowned within the mechanical keyboard community for producing keycaps with outstanding quality, precision, and durability.
The distinguishing factor of GMK keycaps lies in the manufacturing process, known as “double-shot molding”. This process involves injecting two layers of plastic into a mold, one after the other, creating a keycap with two layers of color. The second layer, which is typically a different color, forms the character or legend on the keycap.
This results in a durable, long-lasting character that will not wear off or fade with use. The keycaps are made from high-grade ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic, which offers a smooth texture and a slightly reflective surface that attracts many enthusiasts.
Additionally, the company offers a wide range of colors, thematic sets, and custom designs, making GMK keycaps a popular choice for keyboard enthusiasts looking to personalize and upgrade their mechanical keyboards.
Why GMK keycaps are considered high-quality
The superiority of GMK keycaps can be attributed to three main factors: the materials and manufacturing process used, the Cherry profile, and the company’s stringent quality control and attention to detail.
Materials and manufacturing process
GMK keycaps are made from ABS (Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene) plastic. The ABS plastic, combined with GMK’s manufacturing process, results in a keycap that is both durable and resistant to wear.
Moreover, a technique called double-shot injection molding is used in producing GMK keycaps. This involves molding two separate layers of plastic colors together, with one forming the base and the other forming the legend, creating a seamless bond. This method ensures that the legends never fade or wear out, as they are a part of the keycap itself.
Cherry profile and its advantages
Cherry profile keycaps have become the crowd favorite for mechanical keyboard users, largely due to their customizable nature, compatibility with Cherry MX switches and clones, and comfortable typing experience.
- Customizability and compatibility: The adoption of the Cherry profile by GMK allows these keycaps to easily fit on almost any mechanical keyboard using Cherry MX switches, Kailh switches, Gateron switches, or Outemu switches. This versatility makes it simple for keyboard enthusiasts to enhance their typing experience.
- Ergonomics and typing experience: Cherry profile features a sculpted design, varying row heights, and angles that offer a more comfortable typing experience, which has been favored consistently by keyboard enthusiasts across the globe.
Also check, how these Cherry Profile GMK keycaps compare to the OEM profile keycaps here at OEM vs Cherry Profile Keycaps.
Quality control and attention to detail
GMK emphasizes minute details to produce premium keycaps with near-perfect consistency.
- Consistency in wall thickness: GMK keycaps are known for their consistency in wall thickness, reducing the chances of keycap warping and ensuring uniformity across the set.
- Precise legends and color matching: GMK carefully develops accurate legends and color matches according to the designers’ specifications, giving the keycap sets a unique look.
- Compliance with international standards: GMK adheres to several international standards, including ISO, ANSI, and DIN, ensuring compatibility with a variety of keyboard layouts.
GMK keycap sets and designs
The availability of numerous GMK keycap sets has allowed the mechanical keyboard community to enjoy a diverse array of design options.
Overview of popular sets
Some popular GMK keycap sets include:
- GMK Laser: A vibrant, cyberpunk-inspired set featuring neon purple and teal colors
- GMK Carbon: A carbon-fiber themed set with bold orange accents on a gray base
- GMK Nautilus: A nautical-themed keycap set featuring deep blue and yellow
Collaboration with artists and designers
GMK has always teamed up with talented artists and designers to create unique keycap sets that resonate with the ever-growing community.
Limited edition and group buys
Although many sets are produced as limited editions, keyboard enthusiasts can participate in “group buys”—pre-sale events during which customers place orders for the keycap set before production. This approach allows GMK to accurately estimate demand, reduce wastage, and keep costs low.
Customization options for hobbyists
Besides pre-designed sets, GMK offers customization options for individual users, allowing anyone to create their unique set of keycaps and further personalize their mechanical keyboard.
Comparing GMK keycaps with other brands
In the interest of fairness, let’s compare GMK keycaps with keycaps from other brands.
Signature Plastics (SA and DSA profiles)
Signature Plastics offers keycaps in various keycap profiles, most notably SA (spherical all-rows) and DSA (spherical uniform). Additionally, they have different material options, including ABS and PBT keycaps. However, their keycaps can be more expensive and harder to acquire compared to GMK’s offerings.
Tai-Hao (ABS and PBT doubleshot keycaps)
Tai-Hao offers affordable keycaps in both ABS and PBT materials. While their offerings are more budget-friendly, they often lack the quality and attention to detail seen in GMK keycaps.
Varmilo (PBT dye-sublimated keycaps)
Varmilo provides high-quality PBT dye-sublimated keycaps, offering an attractive alternative to those looking for a more texture-focused keycap. While their keycaps are well-regarded, they may not have the same variety and aftermarket appeal as GMK sets.
Cost and availability of GMK keycaps
GMK keycap sets can be expensive, primarily due to the quality materials, labor, and production processes involved. Some keycap sets may cost anywhere between $100-$250, with limited edition or unique sets fetching a higher price.
Where to buy GMK keycaps
- Online stores and marketplaces: Websites like Drop, OriginativeCo, and Kono Store offer regular sales, as well as hosting group buys for new keycap sets.
- Authorized distributors and retailers: This option ensures you purchase authentic GMK keycaps and receive proper customer support.
- Secondary markets: You can find rare or limited-edition sets on secondary markets such as r/mechmarket but keep in mind that prices may be significantly higher due to demand and availability.
How to take care of GMK keycaps and increase their lifespan
Proper cleaning and maintenance can ensure your GMK keycaps last for years to come.
- Proper cleaning methods: Regularly clean your keycaps with a soft cloth or a keycap puller to remove dirt and prevent shine.
- Storage and transportation tips: Keep your keycaps in a protective case or container to avoid damage or scratches during relocation.
- Precautions for customizing and modding keycaps: If you plan on customizing your keycaps, exercise caution to prevent paint chipping or loss of the double-shot injection qualities.
Let’s conclude the post!
GMK keycaps offer the perfect balance of quality, aesthetics, and durability. While they can be expensive, the investment is well worth it when you consider the premium materials, manufacturing, and design options involved. If you’re looking to elevate your mechanical keyboard experience, give GMK keycaps a try – you won’t be disappointed.
I hope you enjoyed reading the post and found it useful.
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I’m Anirban Saha, Founder & Editor of TechBullish. With a B.Tech in Electronics and Communication Engineering, and 5+ years of experience as a software developer, I have expertise in electronics, software development, gadgets, and computer peripherals. I love sharing my knowledge through informational articles, how-to guides, and troubleshooting tips for Peripherals, Smart TVs, Streaming Solutions, and more here. Check Anirban’s Crunchbase Profile here.