Resin-casted artisan keycaps can vary in worth anyplace from about $10 all the best way as much as over $1000. I’ve seen people who’re completely glad to pay $250 for a resin artisan keycap from a maker they like, and I’ve additionally witnessed individuals complain very loudly and publicly a couple of keycap costing $20.
(I’ve already mentioned polymer clay keycaps; please learn the weblog put up on clay keycaps to acquire a greater understanding of the method for distinctive one-off keycaps and why they price what they do.)
So why do artisan keycaps price as a lot as they do? The reply is multi-faceted, so I’ll break it down into various factors that contribute to price:
It is a simple one. Supplies are pricey. Some tools is one-time startup price (stress pot, air compressor, sculpting instruments, scale, and so on.) and others are continued prices (resin, clay, silicone, dye, pigments, cleansing provides, nitrile gloves, respirator cartridges, stir sticks, mixing cups, mildew launch, the listing goes on and on).
Creation, Sculpting, and Mildew-Making
Each resin artisan keycap began as an concept which then needed to be introduced into the bodily world as a grasp (both hand-sculpted or modeled in 3D software program), which takes hours if not days or even weeks. Some even take months.
As soon as the grasp exists, silicone molds should be fabricated from the grasp so as to forged resin. Mildew-making isn’t significantly advanced, however it’s time-consuming. It often takes 6+ hours of treatment time to make a mildew, and ratios of silicone must be precisely proper or the mildew gained’t treatment correctly and the time and supplies are unusable. In uncommon (and really unlucky) instances, a poorly-mixed silicone ratio can spoil a grasp sculpt, which means your entire course of has to begin over from a clear slate.
Colour Principle and Colour Complexity
Colours must be combined in ratios and shade concept data performs a big function. Varieties of colours and related methods are additionally necessary: liquid pigment versus powdered pigment, translucent versus opaque, colours combined into resin versus painted into the mildew and bonded by means of the curing course of, colorshift and interference colours, supplies added for results, and so on.
When keycaps require a number of photographs of resin into completely different areas of the mildew, complexity of these photographs contributes closely to ability required and fee of failure. Casting complexity additionally contributes to time: every shot must treatment earlier than the subsequent, however not too quick (will type bubbles when de-pressurized) and never too lengthy (gained’t bond to the next shot). Significantly advanced photographs end in increased charges of failure and B inventory, which can’t be bought — on the very least, not at full worth. Failures of advanced casts are significantly pricey by way of wasted time. Keycaps that require photographs at awkward angles or depths additionally take longer to make and are extra susceptible to failure.
Encapsulations are significantly time-consuming and sometimes require a number of full casts, intricate hand-painting, and for much longer treatment instances for crystal-clear epoxy resin.
When a specific casting / colorway may be very difficult to repeat, this will additionally drive price up as a result of creating extra of a specific colorway may end in a number of extra time and failures. Repeating earlier shade mixes and sophisticated results can be difficult, particularly for these of us who wouldn’t have production-level mold-making tools.
Time and Effort
Some people make keycaps as their main enterprise. Different makers are multi-person groups. Nonetheless others (like myself) do it as a pastime on the aspect, whereas holding an unrelated full-time job. For individuals who don’t have time to dedicate various hours per week to keycraft, the time price of constructing keycaps might be very excessive.