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What to Expect from Reverse Dye-sub Keycaps

In case you didn't catch it, we at Drop are about to launch our very first reverse dye-sub keycap set, Extended 2048 Dark (Studio Story). This is an exciting new process to add to the portfolio and opens up a lot of doors for colorways that weren't previously a possibility for us. In order to fully communicate what to expect when the keycaps hit your doorstep or mailbox, we wanted to create this thread to detail realistic expectations for reverse dye-sub keycap sets. We have stringent quality control in place to ensure that defective or sub-standard products are not shipped to customers. However, due to the unique nature of the reverse dye-sub process and challenges that it presents (see the Story post), there may be inherent qualities to the product that appear to be non-perfect but are within the bounds of acceptable quality standards.  Here are some examples of what may be observed  Wall scratches may appear if keycaps rub against each other during transit. Note that we will continue to use our standard MT3 packaging for these keycap sets, with tight trays and bubble wrap.
Curved surfaces may exhibit slight discoloration due to how reverse dye-sublimation is accomplished.
Horizontal offsetting may happen due to how reverse dye-sublimation is accomplished (letter L and the icon key on the right side).
Vertical offsetting may take place due to how reverse dye-sublimation is accomplished (numbers 7, 8 and 9).
Keycap corners may chip during manufacturing, exposing the true base color of the keycap.

Edit: Formatting, added links, clarified MT3 packaging standards

Nov 28, 2023
I love that you have an international kit with this amazing looking set. Looking at the picture, I just feel it's totally unaligned - especially the "2", besides, the other letters which were mentioned. I want this set but needing to spend around 250$ because of customs, is a bit much for unaligned letters. Will the final set be better than the pic? Will it also come to amazon to save some tax? Thanks a lot - love the design!
SalendoThis post is showing the worst case, to give realistic expectations in order to avoid disappointment. Any given set might have one or some misaligned legends, of varying degrees. For those that might be more sensitive to it (sounds like you are in that camp), waiting for others to receive their caps and report back will probably be the best way to go. All that said, since making this post to alert potential buyers, a good amount of work has been done to improve quality from the baseline shown here. I'd still make your decisions based on what is shown, but wanted to mention that so folks are aware. For the Amazon question, I don't know at this time if it will make its way over. Sorry for the lack of information there.
Thanks for the transparency on what to expect in terms of quality. Below it was stated that many keycap sets will be perfect, but do y'all have any more concrete measures you can share about the rate of imperfections that y'all have seen? 1 in 1000 keycaps? 1 in 10000? also, do you know which kinds of imperfections are most or least common? or if there are keys that are particularly susceptible to imperfections?
fiziksAll great questions. Since this is our first reverse dye-sub set, we don't have enough reps behind us to give a statistically confident or meaningful answer, unfortunately. What we can say for sure is that we are continually working with the factory, communicating the importance of the factors unique to this process and resulting quality concerns. The most common imperfections will likely be related to legend alignment and the color imperfections where the film is stretched to varying degrees in close proximity (often on corners, generally on the side of the cap). I don't believe that any particular keys would be more susceptible than others, given the source of the imperfections. Perhaps you would notice side-to-side legend alignment less on wider keys, but not much will be different key to key aside from that.
HoffmanMysterAwesome, thanks for that response!
Aug 2, 2023
Thank you for getting us ready for possible poor quality. Good luck everyone. 🤞
Atomic33This is showing the worst case, not what should be expected across an entire keycap set. Many sets will be perfect. But it is important to communicate the reality and potentials. Other vendors have similar documents about expectations for dye-sub sets, I think we are just unique in having posted it to a forum open for discussion (intentionally so).
Aug 2, 2023
I was hoping that, since the process is reverse dye, the base would be translucent so the resulting letters would be shine-thru. I can't see the attractive in backlit keybs, with all those effects and hues, when there are no shine-thru sets to choose from. And white keycaps, no matter how thin, block almost all of the light. Why bother designing RGB backlit keybs if the caps are all opaque?
AristarcoPBT by its very nature cannot be translucent. What can be done is to use glow-in-the-dark dye mixed into the cap plastic such as was done on DSA Minuteman and KAT Cyberspace. Not true translucent, but you do get legends or caps that glow with LEDS.
Aug 4, 2023
VandenhulOh! That explains it. I suppose to have a shine-thru set it'd be made out of ABS or PC or any other material that has this quality. Thanks a lot for clearing this point. Still... it'd be rad to have a shine-thru 2048, right?
Where's the scratch-and-dent section? Would hate for those keycaps to get tossed because of a few blems.
Aug 2, 2023
What will the kits for this set be? Will Dvorak be available?
I'm curious how this is going to go with enthusiasts. Seeing how loudly people have complained about sprue marks and scratches on SA caps, will they accept chips, blotches, and misaligned legends on these at a similar price?
Aug 3, 2023
HarvestDayI don't think it's unreasonable to want legends that are lined up with each other.
While I'm not thrilled with the alignment tolerances of reverse dyesub, I am happy with the heads-up about it. Lets folks like me who really do care about alignment save the dosh for a different MT3 set without the steps of disappointment and return.
Looks cool! Thanks for working to push barriers and boundaries in design!
Will this new Extended 2048 Dark reverse dye-sub set be MT3 profile & PBT material?
dvorcolYes, PBT MT3 just like the original Extended 2048 set (the to-be-posted Studio Story mentions this as well) 👍
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