A Guide On Choosing the Right Custom Membrane Keyboard Manufacturer
When it comes to outsourcing your custom membrane keyboard, there are several factors that require consideration. After all, one wrong decision can lead to numerous problems. Therefore, ensure that the manufacturer doesn’t face problems like poor material choices, unexpected costs, plain custom service, and manufacturing inexperience.
Moreover, the manufacturer needs to meet your expectations and requirements. After all, you would be investing a great deal of time and money, so making the right decision the first time is important. Below, we have listed down some of the important things that you need to consider when choosing the vendor.
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Effective Tips for Choosing for Custom Membrane Keyboard
Pick a Partner with Experience in your Respective Application
There are different reasons that can lead to the failure of the membrane keyboard switch. The most common one is mis-match between the operating environment and the materials that the manufacturer uses.
Therefore, it is important for the respective vendor to understand the end-use application. They should focus on factors like would the switch be exposed to cleaning solutions, chemicals, heat, or moisture. Also, they should switch the backlit and similar other features.
When you list all the requirements, you will be able to make the choice between silver or copper printed circuit board, silicone keypad vs embossed button. In addition, you can also decide between light guide films or individual LEDs. Choosing among these options would become easy when you and your supplier has a clear understanding of the application requirement.
Switch Installation onto the Product Matters
Yes, you can easily have a pressure-sensitive adhesive present at the back of your switch. But, what matters here is that is your respective vendor using the right quality of the adhesive. There are majorly two, main types of adhesive, the Low-Surface Energy Adhesive and the High-Service Energy Adhesive.
The type that you choose greatly depends upon the surface of the application. The higher energy surfaces generally include acrylic, fiberglass, polycarbonate, epoxy, and some plastic materials. On the other hand, the low plastic surfaces incorporate certain plastic types such as polypropylene, polyethylene, polystyrene, and some certain coating like the Teflon.
Since these items tend to display a weak attraction, therefore, they need to have specialized adhesives. Therefore, communicate well with your custom membrane keyboard switch supplier regarding the application surface.
Metal Fabrication Capabilities
Sometimes for the mounting purchase, you require the structural rigidity of the metal back that comes with studs. So to ensure the quality of all this, we recommend that your vendor provides in-house metal fabrication services.
This would ensure that the design is in accord with your part. Thus, there are no delays due to outsourcing.
Pick an ISO Certified Partner for you Membrane Keyboard switch
Even though a membrane switch looks simple, but it is an extremely complex part especially when you are aiming for custom membrane keyboard switches. Every layer of the switch – overlay, spacers, printed circuit, or the back panel—should mate and register accurately to the adjacent layers.
The vendor needs to ensure that that specified material, mounting method, colors, and the adhesives need to be according to the application. They should design them to ensure the survival of the application.
Therefore, it is important that you choose an ISO certified supplier as their designers and other staff members would be able to work with you. Even in your local language and time zone to ensure smooth customer relationships.
After all, it is their main objective to understand your requirement and ensure that the product meets those requirements.
Membrane Keyboard Switch Partner Should be Responsive
Even though the good design and customer service should be the norm, but the hard reality is the opposite. Only a handful of companies actually focus on their customer services and their designs. So, the shopping secret here is to ensure that your supplier is highly responsive.
If you feel that the supplier is taking the time to respond, we recommend looking for a new vendor. With so much competition out there, you will be able to find another vendor on time. However, it is imperative that you look out for expected costs such as the high-unit cost/low volumes or the Non-Reoccurring Expenses.
Other Product Identifications
In addition to a custom membrane keyboard, you also need to think about other identification requirements. Therefore, it is important for you to choose a vendor that can provide you with identification for other products such as safety placards, barcode labels, nameplates, and a few more.
- This would not only reduce the paperwork but also decrease the overall cost.
- Importance of Using a Keypad-FD for Custom Membrane Keyboard Switch
- There are several benefits, and we have listed some of them below.
- The custom keyboard switches are of the finest quality. They come with the guarantee of pressing up to one million.
- Ensures robustness and longevity even in the most aggressive operating conditions. After all, the manufacturer up to IP65.
- They offer prototyping at low cost along with full high-volume production.
In order to meet the needs of the clients, the industry-leading suppliers offer a range of technical solutions. To make their custom membrane keyboard switches to be waterproof and meet the outdoor conditions, they would offer different finish options and button features.
Below are some of the solutions that they offer.
- Circuit Design
- Embossing Options such as Pillow, Rim, Dome, or Decorative
- Non-tactile Response Keys
- Tactile Response Keys
- EMC/ESD/RFI Shielding
- Materials that are Anti-Microbial, Chemical Resistant, and UV resistant
- IP65 as well as IP54 Rated
- LED integration can be an option
- Mounted to Aluminum or steel panels
- Secret Til-LIT
- Interchangeable inserts – Legend
- Membrane Switches Approved by the UL
For more information check out their Custom Membrane Switch Specification page.
Looking into some of these factors would help you choose a vendor that is not only professional, but it also has extensive experience in your respective application. For expert designing and development of your upcoming custom membrane keyboard switch product, you should reach out to us.
Their highly responsive staff would get back to you regarding all your queries in no time.
The design of a mechanical keyboard allows for the supreme typing and gaming experience, but what if you want to build your own custom keyboard? They can get quite pricey, so how much does building a mechanical keyboard cost?
The cost for a custom mechanical keyboard wildly ranges. There are so many options to choose from and the price depends on how much you’re willing to spend on upgrading the different features. However, the average cost comes out to be around a $200-600 per board.
But don’t worry if this price scares you, it is possible to build a mechanical keyboard for a bit cheaper but that will require shopping around and searching for deals.
If you’re a big spender the price can increase exponentially depending on how customized everything will be and how much you’re willing to spend on the switches, stabilizers, PCB, and keycaps.
The Price of a Custom Keyboard
Pinning down the exact price of your custom keyboard is very difficult to do as it all depends on what you’re looking for in a keyboard. For example, a larger keyboard will be much more expensive than a smaller one because you’ll need extra switches, keycaps, and stabilizers.
In addition, you can opt for a cheaper build, clone switches, and super cheap keycaps if you’re on a budget, or go for ultra-custom everything and spend into the four-figure range.
You could potentially build a custom keyboard for as little as $100, but it’s not recommended, because at that price you can get a prebuilt keyboard that’s probably better.
Realistically, you should be willing to spend at least $200-400 on a custom keyboard.
What Components Are Needed To Build a Keyboard?
There are several components required for building a custom keyboard. We’ll go over each item, give you an idea of the price, and show you where to purchase them.
The Case, PCB, and Plate
The main build of a custom keyboard consists of the case, PCB (circuit board), and metal plate.
The case protects the internal components from the outside elements such as dust and water. The PCB sends a signal to the computer after each keystroke logged. The metal plate is an optional component, but it basically holds the switches in place better and adds overall structure to the build.
Custom Keypad Manufacturer
You typically purchase all three components together as you need to make sure they are compatible. When picking these parts out, you are deciding what features you want on your keyboard, the overall size needed, and what sort of mounting system is preferred.
You can buy each part separately or together in a kit. If you want a more common layout such as 60%, you can buy the parts separately and mix/match. If you want a more unique build, such as 65%, you’ll need to pick up a kit.
Where to Buy the Case, PCB, and Plate?
There are a ton of different places to get these components, but there are two main options: in-stock or through a group buy. If you buy them already in stock, you can get the parts right away, but they will usually be more cookie-cutter and less custom.
If you order the parts through a group buy, you can choose between a ton of different customized layouts, features, and mounting styles. The only drawback to group buys is they are typically super expensive, and you’ll have to wait a few months before receiving the completed component.
You can find a pre-built PCB on Amazon for a really cheap price or check out the latest group buys on mechgroupbuys.
The switches are where you can really customize the overall feel and performance of your keyboard. Do you want a linear switch that is smooth as butter? Or do you prefer a loud clicky switch? With a custom keyboard its all up to you.
Switches can range wildly in price. Many clone switches, such as Gateron or Outemu, can be purchased for $0.30 each, while more expensive switches such as Cherry MX go for $1 each. We linked each switch typo to the product listing on Amazon.
Some enthusiast switches can be even more expensive, such as Zealios or Hirose Orange switches. It all depends on your budget and preference.
If you’re still a little confused on all of the different switch types, we have a ton of different guides available to help you out:
Stabilizers, an essential component that many forget about. Don’t cheap out on the stabilizers if you can help it, they make-or-break the typing experience. We have an entire write-up on stabilizers to help you pick out the perfect ones.
Basically, most prebuilt keyboards come with plate-mounted stabilizers that get the job decently well, but since you’re building a custom keyboard, you’re going to want PCB screw-in stabilizers.
The screw-in style is extremely secure and feels great to type on. You’ll need to pick out a PCB that supports this style of mounting or else you’ll be stuck with the typical plate-mounted style.
With stabilizers you want them to be super smooth, secure, and keep your larger keys from wobbling.
Elementor discount code. You can get them for a few dollars each, we usually recommend Durock stabilizers or ZugGear (Amazon) as they are pound-for-pound your best bet.
If you really want to make your keyboard aesthetically pleasing, picking out the right keycap set is a must. There are so many different options when it comes to keycaps, including the profile and material.
Usually a budget keycap set will be in the $20-30 range, while an upper-end keycap set can go for $100-400. Budget keycaps can get the job done well, but they may have small imperfections.
Higher-end keycaps, such as GMK, will usually be thicker, come in a more unique designs, and feel great to type on.
We have a full write-up of our top 20 keycap sets, so make sure to check that out if you’re looking for a new keycap set.
Another forgotten component is the power cable. How upsetting would it be to build an entire keyboard only to realize you can’t even plug it in? With a custom keyboard, you’ll usually need a USB-C or micro-USB cable to power your keyboard.
You can get a plain ‘ol power cable OR if you’re building a brand spanking new keyboard, you can get a super custom cable to match the rest of your build.
Custom cables are super cool and some come with an aviator attachment, while others are coiled or even lit up with LED lights.
There are also some budget options available such as TEZ cables, which are super affordable and available on Amazon.
Make sure to check out our favorite custom USB cables if you’re looking for the perfect cable for your build.
Realizing that you may need a soldering kit is the point where most people turn away from building a custom keyboard, but what if I told you soldering is optional?
If you decide to pick a hot-swappable PCB, a soldering kit is not needed. A hot-swappable PCB can make assembly much easier and does not require you to figure out how to solder which would save a lot of time and money.
However, if you choose to go the non hot-swappable route, chances are you will need a soldering kit because the switches will need to be soldered to the PCB during assembly.
The average cost for a good soldering kit usually comes out to be around $100.
We highly recommend this soldering kit off of Amazon, it’s perfect for the purpose of soldering switches to a PCB.
When building a keyboard, having a few extra tools on hand can be really convienent. Here are a few that we recommend. We’ll link to them on Amazon so you can check the price of each item.
- Solder: To feed your soldering kit
- Keycap Puller: Easy removal of keycaps
- Switch Puller: Remove switches easily
- Tweezers: For handling small objects and anti-static
What Size Keyboard to Build?
Picking the right keyboard size mainly comes down to personal preference and budget. Some people have a tighter working space so a smaller keyboard is easier to use.
In addition, if you want to take it with you when traveling to a coffee shop or commuting to work and back, a smaller keyboard is also nice in those situations.
In general, the smaller keyboards are cheaper and easier to build because there are less keys and switches and overall material to order.
The majority of people think that smaller keyboards are aesthetic because they have more symmetric shape, but keep in mind- these are only opinions. Do whatever makes you excited.
If you really enjoy using a numpad and arrow keys, a smaller keyboard might not be for you.
Perhaps a larger size that has all those extra keys might be a better fit. Or maybe you want to deck out your keyboard with several extra programmable keys. The larger sizes allow you to get quite creative with all the extra button space available.
I would recommend exploring all of your options before you determine what size works best for you. Check out this post where we go over all of the different keyboard sizes and explain what they all mean.
Should You Build A Custom Keyboard?
Perhaps you’re getting bored of your current keyboard or you’re sick of that mushy membrane feel of your crappy office keyboard. Or maybe you drove your old keyboard in the ground and your keys are stuck and won’t spring back anymore.
By building a custom keyboard you have the ability to make something unique and creative that expresses who you are through your keyboard.
A well-built mechanical keyboard is something that is built to last and is tailored specifically to you. Nobody else on the entire planet will have the same keyboard as you.
In my opinion, it’s worth the extra time and effort to build one for yourself.
Plus you can show it off on the internet, who doesn’t want to do that?
Custom Keycaps For Membrane Keyboard
We talked about how much it would cost on average to build a mechanical keyboard from scratch and learned that the pricing wildly varies, but on average it costs around a $200-600. In addition, we went over the components required and some of the average costs associated with each part.
We also went over some of the situations when a soldering kit is not required, such as when you are building from a kit or using hot swappable switches. It’s understandable if the idea of learning a new skill such as soldering is intimidating, in which case those options are your best bet.
I hope the research put together here helps you with your build. I would recommend researching your own build by looking at some of the different designs currently out there on the internet and choosing something that resonates with you.
Custom Keycaps For Membrane Keyboard
If you find one that you like, you can look into the keyboard further and figure out exactly what parts are required to build. That will give you an idea of where to start, and from there you can tweak to personalize the keyboard to your own specific needs.
Csi Keyboards Inc
Membrane Keypad Manufacturer