What is a re-tooled switch?


#1

After some initial research, I believe re-tooled switches correspond to Cherry switches specifically before they changed their production process?

Is that correct? If so, what parts were changed of the switch?

Are they any more different that cherry switches I can get from NovelKeys or KBDFans? Are they “Better” or “Worse”? Can they still be found?

Thanks for taking the time to read my questions!

  • :cherries:

#2

When people talk about ‘re-tooled’ switches, they are referring to one produced after the manufacturer has made changes to their processes. As production goes on parts and molds wear out and they need to be occasionally be refreshed to keep tolerances tight and everything working as best they can.

Retooling can affect any/all parts of a switch. Eventually, what was once retooled will loose its shine. There have been reports that the MX Blacks are starting to drop in quality again.


#3

Yes, in 2017 Cherry changed the design of their switches. The design change, whether by accident or design, corresponded with a significant improvement in smoothness. “Retooling” just means they got new tooling, i.e. new molds.

As for what changed, the sliders are visibly different. See here for details. The housing and/or contact leaf also might have changed, but I don’t think anyone knows for sure.

All Cherry MX switches except Clears are using the new “retooled” molds. The “retooled” qualifier distinguishes modern Cherry switches from their counterparts in the 2000s and early 2010s, which are inferior. Anything sold by Novelkeys or KBDFans will be the “retooled” variety.

As Nebulant mentioned, Cherry switches do appear to ebb and flow in quality. It has been reported that smoothness has been declining over the course of 2018; I have corroborated this report, but only with a sample of 10 switches. It’s possible that the injection molds wear out over time, leading to a rougher surface finish. If you buy them from an electronics supplier like Arrow.com, you might receive a factory “date code” on your package. However it’s generally not possible to know which “batch” your switches came from unless the vendor tells you the date code before you buy, and I’m not aware of any vendor who does that.


#4

The quality of Cherry switches out of the box has been lackluster in years late, and retooling has only shown a slight improvement. My (completely uncorroborated) theory is that the switches are binned and switches that aren’t in OEM boards are some of the less quality switches to maintain the sterling reputation amongst Gamers:tm:


#5

Harvested some blacks from a Varmilo va68m v3 yesterday. The stems show they are the retooled version but they are much scratchier than I expected.


#6

Yeah I think Cherry produces so many switches that their moulds do not stay smooth for long. Right around the time the community started to figure out Cherry had made some changes to their moulds I got a 660M with re-tooled MX blacks & they are super smooth, like Tealio smooth no joke! Then only about a week or two after that Switchtop got a batch of re-tooled Cherry switches & I ordered some more MX blacks from there. When I got them I double checked that they were made after the re-tooling which they were, but they were nowhere near as smooth as the batch I pulled out of my 660M. They were still smoother than pre re-tooled MX blacks although they didn’t hold a candle to the ones that came in my 660M. The only reason I could think of that would cause such a discrepancy is the ones that came with my 660M were from the one of the first few batches ran with the new moulds & the ones I got from Switchtop were from a much later run? Either that or like @Lesbian said Cherry is binning their switches for the bigger MKB manufacturers, which I doubt is happening just due to the huge number of switches they’re pumping out.