How come the letters don't wear away?

I have an IBM microswitch (yep, clickity clickity click) keyboard manufactured by lexmark. It is probably one of the first keyboards with a ps/2 connector, it was old when I bought it in `99 for a dollar. I love it, and it is so heavy I could use it as a weapon (but I would trade it for a microswitch keyboard with more keys!)

But besides its other charms, it seems to have been printed with diamond ink. It has at least 7 years of heavy use on it, and was probably someone’s office computer keyboard when it was new. F2 is missing, but other than that, the letters do not show any signs of wear. Lesser keyboards, that I did not like anyway, have begun having ghostly or difficult to read lettering after less than a year. What did lexmark use to print these durable letters?

That would be, the cap for F2 is missing, the key is still there. I bet the cap still has F2 printed on it, wherever it is.

Well, a WAG, but I suspect close to the mark. (Don’t take it as Gospel)

Way back when (manufacture of your keyboard), the production either involved a then less expensive blend of chemicals that held up longer, or a mix that since was claimed as cancerous.

Again a WAG, but I’d be very surprised if it was something else.

BTW, if you have a keyboard that actually has the spring-action that gives that satisfying “click”, e-mail me. Let’s talk price.

Some keyboards have embedded plastic lettering. I’m not sure how they are really made but think of it like this: Take a blank key and press the image of the letter into it. Fill imprint with different color plastic. Smooth off.

Since the “printing” is a layer of plastic, it really doesn’t wear off (or both the background and letter wear at the same very slow rate).

Obviously a more expensive process.

You can learn a lot smashing up old electronics.

Why? You can buy them new if you want, with Windows keys and everything. This company bought the manufacturing process for the buckling spring keyboards from Lexmark in the '90s and has been producing the keyboards since. I’ve bought a couple from them, and they’re just like the old, real thing.

That’s double-shot injection molding. Hewlett-Packard used to use it on their handheld calculators before their hardware quality went to hell (post HP-48GX). It’s also used on high-quality switches, telephones and computer keyboards.

Damn! 59$ for a keyboard. I knew there was a reason I bought two of these suckers when I found them. Thanks for the link, because now I can buy a 122-key one for work. :smiley: !

Duffer: yes, it has that super satisfying click. I theoretically could separate from my spare, but I do not know how I would live without it if my primary one died, and it would cost you as much as the 104-key one above after shipping.

And, I bet it is double-shot injection molding that is the secret to the lives of the keys. Thank you guys, I was thinking it was a process like that, but was not willing to damage my keycaps to find out.