Apple butterfly mechanism

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Apple butterfly mechanism
Manufacturer Apple
Switch type Tactile
Sense method Metal contact on PCB
Patents US20140116865 A1 (applied for in 2014)

Apple butterfly mechanism is mechanism for a type of scissor switch where the hinge is made of rubber double-shot moulded with the legs. This single-part design improves stability and reduces thickness for extremely low-profile keyboards compared to mechanical hinges.

Variations

1st-gen

Apple is using this mechanism along with a stainless-steel dome switch on the MacBook (Retina, 12-inch, Early 2015).[1]

2nd-gen

The 2016 MacBook Pro (13 and 15-inch, with or without touch bar) come with an updated mechanism.[2] The keys are taller at the edges making them easier to find by feel. The metal dome is heftier and mounted to the keycap.[3]

2018

The 2018 MacBook Pro keyboard got a protective membrane. According to Apple, it was added to reduce noise but it has been speculated that the real reason was to avoid failure in the "butterfly" mechanism from exposure to dust.[4]

Issues

The MacBook keyboards are infamous for bad reliability.

The 2016 MacBook Pro keyboards supposedly fail twice as often in the first year of use as previous types of MacBook Pro keyboards that have a more conventional scissor switch/rubber dome design.[5] The keyboards are also more expensive to repair, in part because how they are mounted within the laptop enclosures.

References

  1. Apple — Apple Unveils All-New MacBook Dated 2015-03-09. Retrieved 2015-07-23.
  2. Ars Technica live blog — Hello Again: Apple’s October 2016 Mac event Dated 2016-10-27. Retrieved 2016-10-27.
  3. iFixit — MacBook Pro 13" Function Keys Late 2016 Teardown. Dated 2016-11-01. Retrieved 2016-11-01.
  4. IFixit blog—Anatomy of a Butterfly (Keyboard)—Teardown Style, by Sam Lionheart. Dated 2018-07-19. Retrieved 2018-10-16
  5. Apple Insider magazine— 2016 MacBook Pro butterfly keyboards failing twice as frequently as older models. By Mike Wierthele. Dated 2018-04-30. Retrieved 2018-05-08

Forum threads

See also

  • Touch bar — replaces function keys on some models.