Keytok two-part "OEM"
On the two-part OEM keycap profile manufactured by Keytok – with some insider info.
Published June 9, 2022
I'm not really into keycaps (except new profiles) so I could have missed this one if there wasn't KeebMonkey who generously offered you one 121-key set of these cool semi-transparent Keytok Morse caps for a giveaway.
I don't feature keycap sets on this blog so this post is not about the actual product, nor the raffle (rules to apply & caveats here btw). The post is about this pretty unique profile and some insider info I received and would like to share with you.
To begin with, the Morse set is marketed as OEM profile, sometimes referred to as double-shot, and said to be "the very first semi-transparent keycap in the world". Well, sort of.
Apparently, caps with transparent parts have been around for some time but not in this sense. And also, this is apparently not a classic OEM profile either (often considered meh) but something much more exciting.
So when I realized this is something new, I reached out to KeebMonkey with a hefty list of questions and to my greatest surprise, they answered in detail almost instantly. Accordingly, the sources of the info presented below are KM and Keytok's manager Maggie.
First and foremost, what about the uniqueness of this profile? They are pretty sure that this is the very first set of this kind, simply because the set was done by Keytok, a manufacturer located in China, and all the molds are owned by the company – and this fact should make anyone confident enough. :D
The boss of the manufacturer is a close friend of mine and I have seen the project running from a proposal to the end product. So in conclusion, yes, this is unique and is the very first set made with this process – KM.
With a slight resemblance to Filco's patch caps, these keycaps have two parts as well. The base is made of PC (clear transparent or tinted), and there's a PBT top/front part with dye-sublimated legends and icons.
So the semi-transparent characteristics is realized by putting these two parts together which results in interesting effects if you are into RGB and per-key lighting.
However, I'm still not sure about how these two plastic parts are held together. Even though I received some closeup shots, I can't really tell it based on the photos. I doubt it's the classic doubleshot method you are familiar with. Here's what I got:
The PC base was molded first, and the PBT part is molded onto the PC base. The PC materials are customized to endure intense heat. (To make sure that they can survive the high heat during dye-sub.)
Third party designs
Unexpectedly running into a manufacturer with an own profile and molds, I considered it my duty to ask them how a keyset designer interested in producing a custom set can approach them.
KeebMonkey told me they are the only authorized agent of Keytok, and because of the language barrier and other reasons you should contact them instead of approaching Keytok directly:
I have asked them if they have interests in receiving OEM orders from abroad. However, lacking the ability to contact customers in English, and an inability to process payments from another currency, they asked us to help them with OEM orders – KM.
So if you're toying with the idea to design a set with this profile, here comes some more info: I was even allowed to share with you what a custom design would cost.
For 3rd party designs the price is about 40 USD per set. MOQ is 100, and you pay a 800 USD fee for sampling. So that would be 48 USD per set for a minimum order of 100. However, if you can order more than 500 sets, the sampling fee will be returned.
This 40 USD OEM price only includes our labor costs and transaction cost (which is around 3 USD). Keebmonkey does not make profit from OEM orders since the manufacturer is a friend of ours and we are just helping them to get more orders – KM.
After posting this, Keebmonkey was kind enough to send me a set. Here is my photodump.
Published on Thu 9th Jun 2022. Featured in KBD #82.