SnacKeys Part 2: The Fruit Of Our Labor

Viscosity and buoyancy. Opposing forces that would ultimately throw a wrench in our gears. The funny thing about seeds is that it has the capacity to float and sink. When placed in mixed resin, the seed will naturally float to the top. This leads to a keycap where the seeds are barely visible. What about the inverse? When a seed is embedded deep in resin that is curing, the mass of resin above may cause the seed to sink to the bottom. This leads to a keycap where the seed is too close to the surface. One where the seed may stick out and mess with the texture of the cap.

Intensive testing yielded a solution. During the curing process, between liquid and solid states, there is a small window where the viscosity is ideal to suspend the seed in a manner where it would neither float or sink. This window lasts roughly two minutes. If you’re too early, the seed will likely float. If you’re too late, you run the risk of preventing the first layer of resin from properly bonding to the second layer. Needless to say that the first tests proved to be unreliable at best.

Each seed is picked up with a tiny set of tweezers and painstakingly positioned into the semi-cured resin. There are four seeds per keycap. You have two minutes. How many keycaps do you think you can make? In the beginning, it was a paltry four. By the end of production, I was doing sixteen in one pull. Artisans with shaky hands need not apply.

SnacKeys were met with enthusiasm by the community. It’s always hard to gauge how well your caps will sell. The interest garnered by the design doesn’t necessarily translate into sell-through. We decided that first-come-first-serve should suffice. To be fair to everyone, we split the buy into three phases/rounds. The first would be for our North American brethren. The second round would be released at a time ideal for both the EU and Austrailian/Oceania. Finally, the third round would cater to the waitlist from the previous rounds. In anticipation, we produced a little over 200 keycaps. A healthy number we thought.

7 seconds. It took but 7 seconds to sell out in our first round. The formlimiter script I wrote for the order form crashed. We took in more than we had allotted. KeyKollectiv be damned to not follow through, so we took the extra orders. The second round took two minutes. PMs and emails poured in asking for a second run. Even with 200 premade keycaps, we couldn’t fulfill every order that came in. Head down and power through. Koala-T and I breathed a collective sigh of relief as the last batch reached completion.