Safety of cheap keycap materials?

When discussing various keycaps, sometimes people offhandedly say that the fake GMK sets on AliExpress ‘probably use’ toxic plastic.

Do you think that there is any merit to this? I wonder if there are any standards as to the plastics used in keycaps [outside of GMK / SP], and what kind of harm can be done through use of unsafe plastics.


This question always rises when it comes to non-regulated Chinese products, although in this case I think it stems from people wanting to deter others from buying knockoff GMK keycaps, rather than a genuine concern for others health.

Could they? maybe, everything is possible, weak QC and lower quality materials are not something made up when discussing products from China, especially when there’s no regulation on them.

But at the same time, what’s the difference between the double-shot (knockoff GMK) sets and the other Dye-Sub everyone used so far? is there something in the double shot process specifically that make them use toxic materials?

Then what about the US companies making custom “legit” orders? for example Kinetic Labs are selling doubleshot keycaps made by the same manufacturer as Akko (seeing they’re the same).

And on that topic, are any manufacturers regardless of keycaps using toxic materials?
Usually I don’t believe that’s the case, production in China have gone a tremendous improvement over the years when they realized they’re better off making quality products rather than having a terrible quality and hit-or-miss reputaion…

That said, I’m rambling with questions, in the end that’s not an answer we can get without someone actually testing various keycaps.


Yes, with the fine-toothed-comb approach in custom keyboards, I’m surprised nobody’s done these tests already. [Especially since people have already measured electrical interference.]

The funny thing for me is, I think GMK sources much of its plastic from China, doesn’t it? Some GBs were held up when the pandemic began, because plastic orders from China were delayed IIRC.

From some very brief research, it appears there are indeed some plastic blends that can leech carcinogens or neurotoxins into the body through the skin - though if I understand it right a pretty significant amount of contact would have to occur for someone to feel the effects.

This does make me want to find some kind of way to test pieces - like a liquid or something one could brush on the surface and watch for a certain reaction to confirm the presence of styrene, BPA, or other harmful chemical.

It’s funny - ABS is 100% safe for prolonged skin contact - but butadiene (the B) as a gas is quite toxic to people. Thanks, Chemical Safety Board - your videos are informative and entertaining.


More likely is toxic manufacturing process, pollution, and working condition. Strict regulations remain one of the key factors in offshore manufacturing.

As to consumer safety, I think we’re largely safe except for sporadic ‘fake egg’ level of desperation.


Are we eating keycaps now? Lol