What are ABS Keycaps? A Comprehensive Guide

Author: Anirban Saha

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Keyboard enthusiasts often get into heated debates when it comes to the type of keycaps they prefer. One popular option is ABS keycaps.

Here, we’ll dive into what ABS keycaps are and why they’re worth considering for your mechanical keyboard.

What are ABS Keycaps

Let’s get started!

What Are ABS Keycaps?

ABS keycaps are a type of keycap that is made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic. They are a popular choice among keyboard enthusiasts due to their smooth surface texture, soft feel, durability, and affordability.

ABS plastic is known for being lightweight, impact-resistant, and heat-resistant, making it an ideal material for use in keycap manufacturing.

The ABS keycaps are not as durable as PBT keycaps and can become shiny over time. Although they may not last as long as the more expensive PBT keycaps, they are still a great option for people who want to personalize their keyboards without spending too much money.

How are ABS keycaps made?

ABS keycaps are typically made using an injection molding process. A mold is created in the shape of a keycap, and molten ABS plastic is injected into the mold to create the keycap.

Once the plastic has cooled and hardened, the keycap is finished.

What makes ABS keycaps different?

Compared to other keycap materials like PBT, ABS keycaps have a smoother surface texture and a slightly softer feel.

They’re also less prone to developing a shiny or polished look over time. This is due to the fact that ABS plastic has a lower melting point than PBT, which can make it easier to work with during the manufacturing process.

What are the benefits of using ABS keycaps?

  1. Comfort: The smooth surface texture of ABS keycaps makes them comfortable to type on for extended periods of time.
  2. Durability: ABS plastic is a durable material that can stand up to heavy use and abuse without scratching or cracking.
  3. Affordable: Compared to other keycap materials like PBT, ABS is a more affordable option, which makes it a great choice for budget-conscious keyboard enthusiasts.
  4. Customizability: ABS keycaps are easy to dye and add custom designs to, which makes them a popular choice for those who want to personalize their keyboards.

What are the drawbacks of using ABS keycaps?

ABS plastic has a tendency to become “shiny” over time with prolonged use. This can diminish the look and feel of the keycaps, making them appear worn out even if they’re still functioning perfectly fine.

Additionally, some people are sensitive to the chemical odor that ABS keycaps can emit due to the manufacturing process.

ABS Keycaps vs PBT Keycaps: What’s the Difference?

ABS keycaps and PBT keycaps are both popular options for keyboard enthusiasts, but they have some key differences.

One significant difference is in the texture of the keycaps. ABS keycaps have a smoother surface texture, while PBT keycaps tend to have a more textured and rougher surface.

Additionally, PBT keycaps are generally considered to be more durable than ABS keycaps, with less tendency to become shiny or polished-looking over time.

Check out this detailed comparison of ABS vs PBT keycaps and learn more about the differences between these two materials.

Similar to ABS material, there is a keycap variety known as GMK which is considered a higher-quality ABS keycap. You can also check the difference between PBT and GMK keycaps to know more about them.

They are available at a price point even higher than the PBT keycaps. To know why GMK Keycaps are expensive, check this post written by me.

How to Choose the Right ABS Keycaps Set for Your Keyboard?

When choosing ABS keycaps for your keyboard, you’ll want to consider factors like the size and layout of your keyboard, your preferred keycap profile, and the aesthetics you’re going for.

Some keycap sets are designed specifically for certain keyboard layouts, such as the popular Cherry MX mechanical switch, while others may be compatible with a wider range of switches.

Additionally, different keycap profiles (such as OEM, Cherry, DSA, or SA profiles) offer different shapes and heights, which can affect the typing experience.

How to Install ABS Keycaps on Your Keyboard?

Installing ABS keycaps is generally a simple process.

  • First, you’ll need to remove the existing keycaps from your keyboard using a keycap puller (if your keycaps are removable).
  • Then, simply place the new keycaps onto the appropriate key switches, being careful to line them up correctly.
  • You may need to gently press down on the keycap to snap it into place.

How to Clean and Care for ABS Keycaps?

Caring for ABS keycaps is fairly simple. To clean them, you can use a soft cloth or sponge with warm water and mild soap. Avoid using harsh chemicals or abrasive cleaners, as these can damage the surface of the keycaps.

You can also use specialized cleaning products such as keycap pullers and cleaning brushes to remove debris and dust from between the keys.


Let’s conclude the post!

ABS keycaps are a popular choice for keyboard enthusiasts who value comfort, durability, and affordability. While they’re not without their drawbacks, many people appreciate the unique feel and texture of ABS plastic and find it to be a worthwhile investment.

If you’re in the market for new keycaps for your keyboard, consider giving ABS a try and see if it’s the right fit for you.

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