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Keycap wear refers to the tendency of keycaps to wear smooth and shiny with use, and for some types of legends to disappear in whole or in part from the surface of the keycaps.
Surface wear is inevitable; all keycaps will gradually lose their rough surface texture over time. Depending on the material used for the keycap, the rate of wear will differ significantly. Some keycaps from the 70s and 80s, such as those used on the Futaba keyboards for the BBC Microcomputer, greatly resisted wear.
PBT keycaps are the preferred choice out of the available options on the market for its enhanced wear resistance. ABS keycaps on the other hand can start to wear shiny within weeks, with the keyboard showing quite visible wear within a few months.
While wear is not related (at least, to any significant degree) to the material colour, dark keycaps show up reflections better when they are worn to a gloss finish; light-coloured keycaps give the appearance of greater wear resistance simply because the wear is a lot less visibly apparent.
Heavy wear on some keys of a Logitech Y-RJ20; it appears that the previous owner of this keyboard preferred to enter capitals by cycling caps lock instead of pressing shift
Legend wear is highly dependent on the type of keycap printing used. Double-shot legends are completely impervious to wear; the only way to remove the legend is to physically wear the keycap right down, and this level of usage will destroy the keycap. Pad printing legends on the other hand are prone to wear with no known way to ensure that the legends last as long as the keycap itself.
Worn 'A' key on an NTC KB-6251EA