QWERkeys dye-sub group buy

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Daniel Beardsmore

29 Jan 2014, 23:29

I just got my QWERkeys dye-sub group buy keycaps yesterday. This topic serves as both a photo gallery and a review.

My complete order of keycaps; I was actually wondering where these had got to:
Assorted keycaps.jpg
Assorted keycaps.jpg (286.95 KiB) Viewed 1323 times
I am not entirely clear on how the legend is generated. One possibility is a white pad-printed base, dye sublimated image, and finally a carefully-cropped selective image UV lacquer. However, there appears to be signs of lacquer running down the sides, suggesting that the thickness of the highly raised printing is down to the pad-printed base, which is topped with all-over coating.

You can see how thick and shiny the legends are:
UV lacquer thickness and shine.jpg
UV lacquer thickness and shine.jpg (516.96 KiB) Viewed 1323 times
The walls are around 1.5 mm thick at the base, and appear to get thinner towards the top:
Exterior and interior.jpg
Exterior and interior.jpg (208.27 KiB) Viewed 1323 times
The sprue mark is at the rear, where it belongs:
Sprue mark at rear.jpg
Sprue mark at rear.jpg (103.93 KiB) Viewed 1323 times
The dot pitch of the dithering from the colour printing is particularly coarse, being readily visible with the naked eye:
Surface printing detail.jpg
Surface printing detail.jpg (275.07 KiB) Viewed 1323 times
The most noticeable characteristic is that the printing is really dark. The following picture compares a QWERkeys dye-sub Pac-Man keycap side-by-side with a Signature Plastics double-shot "nuke" keycap; even if we ignore the fact that QWERkeys forgot what colour Pac-Man is (both of mine that should be yellow, are green) you can just how dark the colours are:
Comparison with doubleshot.jpg
Comparison with doubleshot.jpg (529.09 KiB) Viewed 1323 times
Here's an overall shot comparing Filco pad printing, QWERkeys dye-sub and Signature Plastics double-shot; these photos taken without the flash (on the fake wood background) are far more indicative of the dull colours than those taken with the flash (white background):
Comparison with doubleshot II.jpg
Comparison with doubleshot II.jpg (544.47 KiB) Viewed 1323 times
I knew from the outset that the final product would not be as bright and sharp as the mock-up photos. The yellow colour in the samples nubbinator received isn't too bad, except I got green instead.

The technology is new, and hopefully in the future we will see it improve to the point that it can start to approach the vibrant colours offered by double-shot moulding, and without the painful distraction of the ultra-gloss printing.

As they stand, I've written them off as a dud, and they won't be going on my Poker II when it arrives, as I was planning. The legends are just too hard to see under normal lighting, and far too blotchy.

(Note: I would have liked to have used different SP comparison keycaps, but I have so few novelty keycaps that I had to dig out the same ones I've already used on the wiki! They're not normally my cup of tea (nor is tea, for that matter) but I was really enthused by Space Invaders keycaps ......)

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30 Jan 2014, 00:16

Thanks for taking your time to review them!

These were initially organised through Sleabo, so I don't know a huge amount about them, but I have heard they don't come out that well on darker key caps, although I must say yours do look very odd! Maybe the white pad was missed off? Anyway, to make it up to you, let me know how much they set you back and I'll give you store credit to match it!

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Daniel Beardsmore

30 Jan 2014, 00:23

The white is there; you can see it in the "cherry" keycap. The white base is just way too dark.

I don't know why the yellow designs changed to green though — they were the correct shade of yellow in nubbinator's samples.

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30 Jan 2014, 10:30

I'll chat with Sleabo, but I think the problem may be from human error - as each graphic is applied by hand iirc.

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30 Jan 2014, 16:51

I'm really skeptical about the durability of this printing process. The big plus of dye-subbed keycaps is that the plastic is dyed, so the printing is as durable as the plastic itself. If only a pad printed base is being dyed I don't see any advantages over regular pad printing.

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30 Jan 2014, 19:00

^^this. (minus the: "...printing is as durable as the plastic..." part. Unfortunately it is not, as fading Cherry legends prove, but almost, so: yes)

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07 Feb 2014, 22:44

Daniel, I want to give you a QWERkey to make up for the shitty gree/yellow caps you got. The UV printing looks much better on white! PM me your details and a number you want!

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Daniel Beardsmore

07 Feb 2014, 23:13

I wouldn't know what to do with one if I had one. I don't have any K series keyboards (only some very early 80s Futaba simplified linear cylindricals), and my only white keyboard takes Alps keycaps.

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08 Feb 2014, 10:50

Put it on a key ring? Gives you store discount also.

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Daniel Beardsmore

08 Feb 2014, 14:33

I am very particular about what I buy — I am not an idle trinkets person. My keyring is something that's irreplaceable.

I don't know why I would want a key with the Swiss flag on it.

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