Keycap sets are an essential component of mechanical keyboards, and their appearance is a crucial factor in their appeal. Antidote Studio is known for designing keycap sets that look complete and perfect, but have you ever wondered why it takes so long to create them? The keycap-making process is lengthy and complex, involving several intricate steps that require skill, patience, and creativity. Let's dive into the keycap-making process and explore why it takes so long.
1. Design keycap production process
The design of a keycap set is the initial and most crucial step in the creation of a high-quality keycap set. The design process involves conceptualizing the appearance and style of the keycaps, which includes the choice of colors, fonts, and symbols. The designer needs to take into account the keyboard's layout, the user's preferences, and the overall aesthetic of the keycap set.
They create a detailed plan of the keycap set, including a 3D rendering of each keycap, which serves as the blueprint for the manufacturing process. A well-designed keycap set is essential to creating an appealing and functional mechanical keyboard. Therefore, the design stage is critical to the success of the keycap set's production.
2. Prototype & Color matching process
Achieving a satisfactory design is a crucial and time-consuming aspect of creating a keycap set. Antidote Studio aims to produce keycaps that match the original design without any color deviation. However, despite using high-quality printers, color discrepancies are unavoidable. To ensure that the final keycap set closely resembles the design, Antidote places great importance on the color verification process. We create a printed sample of the keycaps and test them for color accuracy. If necessary, the process is repeated over 3-5 times per color scheme to achieve the desired result. Naturally, the more colors involved in the keycap set, the longer the verification process takes. Therefore, Antidote Studio takes the time necessary to create keycaps that match the design specifications and offer high-quality, complete, and perfect keycap sets.
3. Mass production process
Once the design and color verification processes are complete, the keycap set is ready for mass production. The production process involves several steps, including molding, injection, and finishing. The duration of this stage depends on the size of the order and typically takes between 1-4 weeks for a standard order of thousands of keycap sets. Despite common misconceptions, the production stage is not usually the primary bottleneck in the process, as discussed earlier. In contrast, most keyboard brands that produce keycaps on a larger scale spend around 6 months on calibrating Step 2 and then produce identical, uninspired keycaps day in and day out for years. On the other hand, custom keycap sets that enthusiasts are accustomed to requiring around 5 months for calibration and only 1 month for production before the process is repeated to ensure high-quality, perfect keycaps.
4. Quality check & Packaging
The packaging of keycaps is a meticulous and time-consuming process that relies on manual labor. Each keycap is carefully placed in its designated tray and the packaging is then gently sealed. This process is carried out by human beings, which leaves room for human error. Occasionally, a keycap set may be missing a key or have duplicate keys due to mistakes in packaging.
However, the packaging stage also allows for additional quality control checks, as every keycap is inspected before it is shipped to ensure that it meets the designer's standards. Thus, while the packaging process is slow and manual, it is an essential part of the keycap production process that helps to maintain quality control and ensure that customers receive complete and perfect keycap sets.
In conclusion, keycap-making is a fascinating process that involves a series of intricate steps. The final product, a complete and perfect keycap, is a result of the designer's creativity, the sculptor's precision, the manufacturer's skill, and the quality control team's attention to detail. If you're curious about keycap making and want to learn more, join Antidote Studio to discover the secrets behind creating the perfect keycap.