Dye-sub Vs Doubleshot


Doubleshot - Injection molding

As a product of modern human science, plastic is the king of materials in the new century. Therefore, we can see plastic widely used by humans in various fields in the corners of our daily lives. Injection molding technology is a very mature technology, with roughly over thirty types of molding processes. Keycaps are generally produced using the doubleshot injection molding process.

Doubleshot injection molding is achieved by injecting two different colored plastics into the mold to achieve the printing effect of the keycap. The appearance of the keycap is created by the difference in color between the main body and the font or symbol

Dye-Sublimation Printing

Sublimation printing is a relatively popular new technology in recent years. Sublimation printing involves printing a special type of ink onto paper with a special coating. Then, high temperature and high pressure are used to transfer the ink from the printed paper onto the material being transferred. It can be widely applied in various fields such as clothing and textiles, ceramics and glass, metal sheets, plastics, wood, stone, and other different products.

Dye-Sub - Vacuum blister heat transfer printing

The vacuum blister method for creating sublimation transfer keycaps is a unique production method. Recently, the market has also started using the same method to print phone cases. Vacuum blister involves placing keycaps and sublimation paper on a preheated mold and then using vacuum extraction to achieve full coverage transfer of the keycaps.

There is still significant room for advancement in this technology.


Doubleshot - Spotcolor

The colors in Doubleshot come from the inherent colors of the pigments themselves. Therefore, the final product is produced by pre-mixing the plastic granules with the desired colors and then injecting them into the mold.

The generation of colors is similar to how an artist prepares and mixes colors on a palette before applying them to a canvas. This printing method is commonly referred to as spot color.

Dye-sub - Process Color

Sublimation, on the other hand, uses digital printing to create prints by blending basic color inks such as Cyan, Magenta, Yellow, and Black (abbreviated as CMYK).

By controlling the ejection and mixing of these basic color inks, the electronic print head can generate nearly any color. A color management system used by printers ensures that the required colors are accurately rendered on the printed material to meet color specifications.

This method allows printers to precisely reproduce colors for images and text during the printing process.

Manufacturing Equipment

  • Doubleshot - High Start-up capital

    • Injection Molding Machine
    • Mold
    • Hopper and Dryer
    • Heating and Cooling Systems
    • Mold Temperature Control System
    • Automation Equipment
    • Cooling Tower
    • Robot Arms
    • Inspection Equipment
    • Compressed Air System
    • Waste Management Equipment
  • Dye-sub - Low Start-up capital

    • Keycaps
    • Sublimation Heat Press Machine
    • Sublimation Printer
    • Sublimation Ink and Paper

Doubleshot - The cost of a plastic factory is very high, ranging from Rm1,000,000~10,000,000 , depending on the level of automation in the factory.

Dye-sub - The production line for sublimation keycaps has a much lower barrier to entry. We only need a printer and a sublimation heat press, which costs just over RM20,000 .


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Doubleshot - high moq

The minimum order quantity for Doubleshot keycaps is relatively high. This is because certain specialized keycaps require custom molds, and the equipment used is more expensive, with complex production processes. However, these are fixed costs that can decrease rapidly as the production volume increases.

When the production volume reaches a certain level, the manufacturing cost can even be lower than the cost of Dye-sub keycaps.

Dye-sub - low moq

The minimum order quantity for Dye-sub keycaps is relatively low because sublimation is done using a printer, and it doesn't require the creation of custom molds during production. However, Dye-sub keycaps have unpredictability during the vacuum forming process (there will always be displacement during shrinkage), and most of the processes rely on manual labor. Therefore, variable costs are much higher compared to fixed costs.

Production lines that rely on manual labor face two challenges: first, it's difficult to achieve significant increases in efficiency to boost production capacity, and second, labor costs are unlikely to decrease significantly with increased production volume.


The shaded area represents the most common range for product volumes. It's evident that Doubleshot Keycaps are expensive due to the high cost of equipment and low demand, while Dye-sub Keycaps are expensive because of low yield and the inability to achieve large-scale production without significant manual labor.

  • Doubleshot

    Production Method - Plastic Injection

    Start-up capital - High

    MOQ - High

    Costing - Costs will rapidly decrease with high volume

    Printing - Solid Color

    Color Range - Limited color options

  • Dye-sub

    Production Method - Dye-sub

    Start-up capital - Low

    MOQ - Low

    Costing -Costs will not decrease with increasing production volume

    Printing - Process Color

    Color Range - Wide color options

In this chapter, we have introduced the basic knowledge of the costs and production of Doubleshot keycaps and Dye-sub keycaps. In the next section, we will discuss the issues our factory encounters in the actual production process, explain how we solve these problems, and debunk common misconceptions about keycaps.