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Double-Shot vs Dye-Sub Keycaps: Which Should You Get?

Last Updated on November 13, 2022

In this post, we will explain what is the difference between Double-Shot vs Dye-Sub Keycaps. High-end keycaps are often produced using the double-shot and dye-sub production processes. What are dye-sub keycaps, double-shot keycaps, and how do they differ from one another?

Here is a brief justification:

The legend on your keycap is made using the Double-Shot and Dye-Sublimation methods. The inscriptions are printed onto the keycap during dye-sub. Injection molding is used by double-shot to insert the legend. Both techniques are substantially higher quality than alternative technologies and have remarkable durability and feel.

Continue reading to learn about the major and minor differences between dye-sub and double-shot printing and how they compare to one another.

What is Dye-Sublimated Keycap?

With this technique, a printed legend is converted from a solid to a gas using high heat, which is then absorbed into the keycap’s substance. The PBT keycaps that are typically printed using this technique have exceptionally durable keys. Legends cannot be experienced while typing.

What is Double-Shot Keycap?

Since the legends are different pieces of molded plastic, this double shot technique guarantees that they will never deteriorate with time. The second way to apply legends on keycaps is to print them. Double-shot is the name of the method used to create the keycaps. During construction, plastic is “shot” or injected into two distinct molds. The legends on a keycap are therefore not printed on the same piece of plastic as the keycap’s exterior mold.

Double-Shot vs Dye-Sub Keycaps Comparison

Legends injectedLegends printed
Uses two layers of plasticUses a laser, dye, and extreme heat
Looks sharperMay look not as sharp
Any color legend possibleLegend must be darker than keycap
Any color possible for keycapsFewer color options for keycaps
Cannot feel while typingCannot feel while typing
Will never fade or chipVery resilient and may wear very little
Used on ABS, PBT, and POM.Only used with PBT
On backlit and non-backlit capsOnly on non-backlit caps
Often expensiveUsually cheaper
Double-Shot vs Dye-Sublimated Keycaps

Double-Shot vs Dye-Sub Keycaps: Aesthetic

Double-Shot vs Dye-Sublimated Keycaps Aesthetic
Double-Shot vs Dye-Sublimated Keycaps Aesthetic

Both dye-sub and double-shot keycap legends will have exceptionally nice, legible graphics.

Sometimes dye-sub legends, usually in less expensive sets, may not appear to be as clear due to the way they are printed.

Numerous color options are constrained by the requirement that dye-sub legends be darker than the keycap they are on. Due to the removal of the option for dark keycaps, many dye-sub sets have lighter colors. One of dye-main sublimation’s drawbacks is this.

Double-shot legends are superior to dye-sub sets because they can be any color, unlike dye-sub. If you want to purchase a set in a dark color, they are your best choice. Manufacturers can create sets with strong contrast and brilliant colors using this technique.

The bottom side of dye-sub keycaps resembles a standard keycap, but when made using the double-shot technique, plastic from the injection mold that creates the legend is added.

Double-Shot vs Dye-Sub Keycaps: Durability

Double-Shot vs Dye-Sublimated Keycaps Durability
Double-Shot vs Dye-Sublimated Keycaps Durability

Double-shot and dye-sublimated keycaps are extremely reliable.

Although dye-sub printing on keycaps may give the impression that its endurance is subpar, it is, in fact, the most durable process available besides double-shot.

The legend on the keycap is permanently engraved there thanks to a heat-treatment procedure. Only after extremely prolonged use, when the keycap’s entire top surface begins to wear, does this legend begin to fade.

When using double-shot, a distinct piece of plastic is injected into the keycap as the legend. This implies that the legend cannot be ever be eliminated. Out of all the keycap techniques, this one is the most robust.

Both techniques are quite durable, therefore in most cases, durability shouldn’t be a problem. However, double-shot sets offer the greatest durability.

Double-Shot vs Dye-Sub Keycaps: Price

Given that the technique is more challenging and expensive, double-shot keycaps are often more expensive than dye-sub keycaps.

For each distinct keycap, a mold is required. Although certain high-end dye-sub keycaps and some low-end double-shot keycaps may cost the same, double-shot keycaps are typically more expensive.

Even though dye-sub printing is less expensive, it isn’t necessarily worse, and if the pre-built boards have non-backlit keyboards, dye-sub printing is frequently a suitable choice.

Although double-shot printing was available at the time, older keyboards tended to utilize dye-sublimation because it was more affordable.

A double-shot package is worth the extra money if you want the highest quality, the best appearance, and more color possibilities.

Usage of Both Double-Shot vs Dye-Sub Keycaps

On backlit keyboards with RGB lighting, double-shot keycaps are frequently seen shining through the keycaps. They are also the preferred solution for keycaps of excellent quality like GMK. This is as a result of the excellent reliability and the absence of legends.

Materials like ABS, PBT, and POM can be used to make double-shot keycaps. This technique is frequently applied on expensive ABS keycap sets. Due to the increased cost of double-shot technology, it is typically only seen on premium prebuilt keyboards like the Drop, Epomaker, Razer, Corsair, and Keychron or aftermarket keycaps.

Only PBT keycaps without backlights are subject to the dye-sublimation process. This technique is frequently applied to premium keycaps and affordable alternatives to the best sets from brands like GMK or Drop.

Topre keyboards from brands like Realforce, HHK Keyboards, and most of topre keyboards frequently feature dye-sub because it offers excellent quality and appearance without being excessively pricey.

One of the reasons vintage keyboards are regarded for having excellent build quality is that more vintage keyboards, like the IBM Model M, also employed keycaps made using the dye-sublimation method.


Is doubleshot or dye sub Better?

If you also want high-quality lighted keycaps, the double-shot approach is the way to go. It is worthwhile if you don’t require a backlit set and the color possibilities dye-sub keycaps offer are suitable for your needs because the feel and durability of the quality are comparable.

Are Double Shot keycaps better?

Despite not necessarily being “better” than other keycaps, doubleshot keycaps do provide a few advantages. The legends won’t fade or scratch because they aren’t printed on. Doubleshot keycaps typically have a transparent legend that allows backlighting to shine through and are thicker and more robust.

Is GMK a doubleshot?

Yes, The doubleshot design of GMK keycaps is one of their outstanding features. Doubleshot keycaps are created by joining two plastic parts. The keycap, which is the top layer, features a cut-out where the legend is positioned on top.

Conclusion: Which should you get? Double Shot or Dye Sub?

Which should you get? Double Shot or Dye Sub?

Both of these types of legends are of a high caliber because they employ the most resilient procedures and, in contrast to some other printing techniques, lack feel.

Double-shot often costs more but offers additional color options, can be used on keycaps made of materials other than PBT, and will never wear out. If you also want high-quality lighted keycaps, the double-shot approach is the way to go.

It is worthwhile if you don’t require a backlit set and the color possibilities dye-sub keycaps offer are suitable for your needs because the feel and durability of the quality are comparable.

However, dye-sub sets are really good and could save you money if you offer what you need. Double-shot sets are worth the extra money for individuals who need backlighting, something other than PBT, or a brilliant or very dark colored set.

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