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What are PBT Keycaps? A Comprehensive Guide

Hey keyboard enthusiasts! Today, we’re going to dive into the world of PBT keycaps – what they are, their unique properties, and why they’re worth considering for your keyboard.

Let’s get started!

What are PBT Keycaps?

PBT (Polybutylene terephthalate) plastic is a type of thermoplastic polymer that is known for its toughness, resistance to impact, and excellent dimensional stability. It’s commonly used in a variety of applications, from automotive parts to electronic components.

What are PBT Keycaps

When it comes to a mechanical keyboard‘s keycaps choice, the PBT keycaps are a popular choice due to their durability and unique properties. Compared to ABS (Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene) plastic, PBT is thicker, more durable, and has a matte texture that provides a satisfying grip.

One of the key differences between PBT and ABS plastic is that PBT does not become shiny or fade over time with heavy use, while ABS keycaps tend to lose their shine and color vibrancy over time. A PBT keycap also has a more substantial weight and thickness, which can provide a more satisfying typing experience.

These are my favorite features of PBT keycaps:

  1. Thick Textured Surface
  2. Louder sound when clicked
  3. Costlier to Buy
  4. Made of PolyButylene Terephthalate Plastic Material.
  5. These Keycaps come with a Melting point of around 225 F, making them much more resistant to heat and high-temperature exposure.

How long does PBT keycaps last?

PBT keycaps are designed to last much longer than ABS keycaps and can withstand wear and tear much better. With proper maintenance and care, PBT keycaps can last over five years.

Advantages of PBT Keycaps

1. Thicker material and increased durability:

One of the main advantages of PBT keycaps is their thickness, which makes them more resistant to wear and tear. This means that they can withstand heavy use and maintain their appearance for longer than ABS keycaps.

2. Stylish matte look and textured feel:

A PBT keycap has a unique matte texture that gives them a stylish and sophisticated look. The texture also provides a satisfying grip that makes typing more comfortable and enjoyable.

3. Resistance to fading and shining:

Another advantage of PBT material is that they do not become shiny or fade over time. This means that they maintain their appearance for longer and do not require as much maintenance as ABS keycaps.

Disadvantages of PBT Keycaps

1. Higher cost compared to ABS keycaps:

One of the main disadvantages of PBT keycaps is that they are generally more expensive than ABS keycaps. This can make them less accessible for keyboard enthusiasts who are on a budget.

2. Louder when typing:

PBT keycaps are generally louder than ABS ones when typing, which may be an issue for some users who prefer a quieter typing experience.

Types of PBT Keycaps

So far, we’ve covered basic definition are and their advantages and disadvantages. But did you know that there are different types of PBT keycaps?

That’s right! Let’s take a closer look at the different types of PBT keycaps available.

Double-shot PBT Keycaps

Double-shot PBT keycaps are made using a special manufacturing process that involves molding two layers of plastic together. The first layer is usually made of opaque plastic, while the second layer is made of translucent plastic. 

The legends (the letters and symbols on the keys) are then molded into the second layer, which allows the backlighting to shine through.

One of the benefits of double-shot PBT keycaps is that they offer excellent durability. Because the legends are molded into plastic, they won’t wear off over time like they might with other types of keycaps. 

Double-shot PBT keycaps also tend to have a more tactile feel to them, which some people prefer over other types of keycaps.

Learn more about what are Double shot Keycaps here.

Dye-sublimated PBT Keycaps

Dye-sublimated PBT keycaps are made using a process called dye-sublimation. In this process, the legends are printed onto the keycaps using a special dye that is infused into the plastic. This results in a high-quality, long-lasting print that won’t wear off over time.

One of the benefits of dye-sublimated PBT keycaps is that they offer a wide range of customization options.

Because the legends are printed onto the keycaps, it’s possible to create custom designs and logos. Dye-sublimated PBT keycaps also tend to have a more muted look to them, which can be appealing to some people.

Laser-etched PBT Keycaps

Laser-etched PBT keycaps are made using a laser to etch the legends into the plastic. The laser removes a layer of the plastic, leaving behind a permanent mark.

One of the benefits of laser-etched PBT keycaps is that they offer a high level of detail. Because the legends are etched into the plastic, it’s possible to create very precise designs and logos. 

Laser-etched PBT keycaps also tend to have a more uniform look to them, which can be appealing to some people.

Maintenance of PBT Keycaps 

Maintaining your PBT keycaps is crucial to ensuring their longevity and performance. Here are some tips on how to properly care for your PBT keycaps:


Cleaning your PBT keycaps is easy and can be done using a few common household items. 

Using Soap Water Method:

  1. First, remove the keycaps from your keyboard and place them in a bowl of warm, soapy water. 
  2. Use a soft-bristled brush or toothbrush to gently scrub each keycap, then rinse thoroughly with clean water. Be sure to dry the keycaps completely before reinstalling them onto your keyboard.

Using Microfiber and Isopropyl Alcohol Method

If you prefer not to use water, you can also clean your PBT keycaps using a microfiber cloth and isopropyl alcohol. 

Simply dampen the cloth with alcohol and wipe down each keycap, making sure to remove any dirt or grime. Again, be sure to dry the keycaps completely before reinstalling them.


Regularly inspecting your PBT keycaps for any signs of damage or wear can help you catch any potential issues early on. 

Look for any cracks, scratches, or discoloration on the surface of the keycaps. If you notice any issues, consider replacing the affected keycaps before they cause further damage to your keyboard.


If you need to replace any of your PBT keycaps, you can usually find replacement sets online. Just make sure to purchase keycaps that are compatible with your keyboard’s layout and switch type. 

When installing new keycaps, be sure to use a keycap puller to remove the old keycaps and avoid damaging your keyboard.

Compared to Other Keycap Material Offerings

When it comes to keyboard keycaps, there are several materials to choose from. While PBT material is a popular choice for their durability and aesthetic appeal, there are a few other materials worth considering:

ABS Keycaps:

Acrylonitrile butadiene styrene (ABS) is a type of plastic commonly used for keycaps. ABS keycaps are known for their smooth texture and ability to produce vibrant colors, making them a popular choice for custom keycap sets. 

However, ABS keycaps are generally considered to be less durable than PBT, and they tend to become shiny and worn over time.

GMK Keycaps:

GMK keycaps are a type of ABS keycap that is known for its high-quality construction and unique colorways.

These keycaps are produced using a process called Doubleshot molding, which involves injecting two different colors of plastic into a mold to create a multi-colored keycap with a high level of detail. 

While GMK keycaps are highly sought after by keyboard enthusiasts, they are also quite expensive compared to other keycap options. To know why GMK keycaps are so expensive, check out these reasons.

Overall, while ABS keycap and GMK keycap have their own unique advantages and appeal, the PBT material ones remain a popular choice for those looking for a balance of durability, style, and affordability.

Also read about the comparison of GMK vs PBT keycaps to know more about how they stand compared with PBT ones.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQs)

Q. Is the PBT keycap good?

Ans. Yes, PBT keycaps are generally considered to be a good choice for keyboard enthusiasts due to their durability, resistance to wear and tear, and stylish matte finish.

Q. Do PBT keycaps turn yellow?

Ans. PBT keycaps are less likely to turn yellow than ABS keycaps, which are more prone to discoloration due to prolonged exposure to UV light and natural oils from the fingers. However, it’s worth noting that PBT keycaps can still yellow over time if exposed to certain environmental factors, such as heat or smoke.

Q. Do PBT keycaps get greasy?

Ans. PBT keycaps are less likely to get greasy than ABS keycaps due to their non-glossy texture. However, it’s still important to clean them regularly to prevent the buildup of dirt, dust, and oils from the fingers.

Q. Do PBT keycaps wear down?

Ans. While PBT keycaps are resistant to wear and tear, they can still wear down over time if used frequently. However, this typically takes longer than with ABS keycaps due to PBT’s denser and more durable material.

Q. Can PBT keycaps shine through?

Ans. PBT keycaps are less likely to shine through than ABS keycaps, which tend to become shiny over time due to friction from fingers rubbing against the surface. However, it’s worth noting that some lighter-colored PBT keycaps may still show some shine over time.

Q. Can you put PBT keycaps on the ABS keyboard?

Ans. Yes, you can put PBT keycaps on an ABS keyboard. Keycaps are generally interchangeable between keyboards, as long as they have the same layout and stem type. However, it’s worth noting that PBT and ABS keycaps have slightly different feels and sound profiles, so the typing experience may differ depending on which keycaps you use.

Q. Do PBT keycaps feel different from ABS keycaps?

Ans. Yes, PBT keycaps tend to have a different feel than ABS keycaps. They are typically thicker and have a more textured surface, which can provide a different typing experience.

Conclusion: My Final Thoughts About The PBT Keycaps

PBT keycaps are a great option for anyone looking to upgrade their keyboard experience. They offer a range of benefits over other keycap materials, such as increased durability, resistance to wear and tear, and a stylish matte finish. 

Additionally, these keycaps are available in a range of colors and designs, making them a popular choice for keyboard customization.

While PBT material do have some drawbacks, such as a higher cost and louder typing sound, many enthusiasts feel that the benefits outweigh these minor issues. Whether you’re a gamer, typist, or just looking to customize your keyboard, PBT keycaps are definitely worth considering.

To get the most out of your PBT keycaps, it’s important to take proper care of them by cleaning them regularly and inspecting them for wear and tear. 

Additionally, it’s worth considering which type of PBT keycap is right for you, such as double-shot, dye-sublimated, or laser-etched.

Overall, PBT keycaps are a fantastic choice for anyone looking to elevate their keyboard experience. With their unique properties and stylish designs, they’re sure to make any keyboard stand out from the crowd.

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