All You Need to Know Is Whether PCB Foam Is Necessary

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The PCB foam has been an essential part of keyboards for a very long time. You might have heard the horrible sound from the keyboard while you game or type on it. Printed circuit board foam is used to stop such noise and make it easier for the keyboard to work smoothly.

The cases or coverings used in any keyboards still have some spacing left behind. This causes the keyboard to make unpleasant sounds even if you have installed the PCB inside it. 

How can you define PCB foam?

The printed circuit board foam is a foam-type material meant to be placed between a printed circuit board and keyboard. This helps keep the thudding sounds the keyboard usually makes at bay.

Being a lover of keyboards and buying different types is a hobby that will always motivate you to get them customized or change different things. This is a common routine for those who are enthusiastic about their keyboards. 

Likewise, people who want to keep their typing and use the keyboard much smoother and at pace always prefer to choose placing foam. This foam is not different than the common ones in terms of material. However, it is made from a material that is called polyethylene. 

The polyethylene material is very smooth and soft, which keeps the base quite easy to use. It also makes it easier for the users to press the keyboard's keys without making them difficult. The thin layer of polyethylene foam makes the keyboard provide much better acoustics. 

Where did the printed circuit board foam originate from? 

Most people who wonder about what PCB foam is also thought about the first time it was invented or what led to its use and application in keyboards. 

If you are a keyboard lover and an enthusiast, you might have heard about the famous keyboard manufactured by the greatest company, owlabs, named jelly epoch keyboard. 

The famous and well-known keyboard, the jelly epoch, was the best known for its amazing sound while typing. People went wild over it, and the technical market soon got hyped up due to its invention. 

This great invention of a pleasant sound-producing keyboard made thinkers and technology manufacturers wonder about the reason behind its soothing acoustics. It was no later when the manufacturers finally made their way and found the reason. 

It was then released that the sound was produced by the thin sheet or layer of polyethylene, a type of light foam. That is meant to be placed between the PCB and the keyboard. Since then, the new keyboard manufacturing companies are now using similar PCB foam methods. However, the main key is to use a very thin sheet for the best results. 

Is PCB foam necessary? 

Well, the first thing to know about while thinking is pcb foam necessary is that, no PCB foam is not a requirement for the keyboard to work. At the same time, it does have benefits and cons. However, it does not mean that the system will not function without it. More than a necessity, the PCB foam is a type of exciting stage for keyboard lovers. 

PCB

As a keyboard enthusiast, how can one build it with PCB foam?

If you are wondering how to create your keyboard with the help of PCB foam, then you are in the right place. Below are some basic and easiest ways of experiencing self-made PCB foam keyboards. 

Unscrew your keyboard 

The first thing that needs to be done for creating your PCB foam keyboard is to access the keys to the core. You need to unscrew your keyboard and keep the casing on one side.

Take the case and the plate of the PCB from the keyboard carefully and keep them somewhere safe. Every keyboard has different nuts and screws. So, make use of tools accordingly.

If you are following any particular keyboard model guide different from your keyboard, then be mindful not to do what is told exactly. You can always try by modification of a few things. 

Inspecting PCB switching order 

The second step to learning a PCB foam is to remove the switching and wirings within a keyboard. Here you have to keep two things in mind that is whether your keyboard is based on solder or it is hot swapped.

This will help you out in the process of removing the wirings within the keyboard. However, by any chance, if you do not know what keyboard it is, then do not worry.

One thing to determine if your keyboard is based on either of the options is to check for extra switches. If there are quite a handful of them, then it is an indication that your keyboard is hot-swapped.

For such types of keyboards, it is easy to remove the switches with the help of a tool. However, if the keyboard is based on solder type, you need to be patient and desolder the switches. 

Cut and trace for the best fit. 

Consider this step when shopping and looking for a perfect fit. You try on different clothes to get the ideal fitting and sizes. Likewise, to get a perfect shape and fit the PCB foam into the plate, you need to trace it first.

It is just like taking an impression and then moving on with the rest of the process. One important thing you must always keep in mind while cutting the printed circuit board foam is how thick it should be.

It is recommended that the printed circuit board foam should not be more or less than 0.5 millimeters. Tracing can be done using a marker that can be erased later. 

Show your chopping skills. 

Once you have perfectly traced the outline for the PCB foam, the next thing is to cut it out. Here you have to cut step by step with the help of scissors or a preferred knife. Make sure to use sharp scissors and a knife to avoid any blunders. 

Installation of the PCB foam

The final and last step to building your PCB foam keyboard is to place it in the middle of the printed circuit board and the keyboard plate you have kept aside during the first step.

Once installed, you must place all the switches back like before. Hence, this step can also be called us repacking your keyboard. If you do not have much experience, you can get help from the professional workers running the hardware.

Are there any drawbacks to using PCB foam?

The most common and universal rule for everything is that where there are advantages, there will always be some disadvantages. 

Some of the disadvantages of the printed circuit board foam are mentioned below. 

Offers an unpleasant look 

The first drawback of using the PCB foam is that the keyboard does not appear more appealing. Using the PCB foam between the keyboard reduces the device's aesthetic.

The majority of the people do not prefer using it due to this reason only. Otherwise, using PCB foam is a good decision if you prefer better acoustics over the aesthetic look. 

It might damage your keyboard.

The other drawback of using a printed circuit board foam is that it can cause damage to your keyboard. This is because the switches on your keyboard are the most sensitive ones. They can be easily broken if you remove them without any extra care.

That is why it is recommended to handle the keyboard and the switches with focus, as they possess the ability to get broken and damaged. Usually, the use of proper tools can prevent such cases. 

It might not offer any change. 

Some people have complained that there have been no visible changes to the keyboard after installing the printed circuit board foam. At the same time, others had stated that the sound produced from the keyboard after adding the printed circuit board foam is similar to when it was foamless.

So, for people who are keyboard lovers and are looking forward to a much better sound base, this new might be a deal breaker for you. However, with much hype about the PCB foam, giving it a chance might be worth it. So, if you are scared, then do not be.

Can a beginner or newbie work with printed circuit board foam? 

Yes, a beginner or someone new to the experience of keyboards can work with polyethylene foam. It is a very safe procedure and is not harmful in any way.

However, the only thing that should be considered is how well experienced the person is with handling the keyboard.

Therefore, it is better first to gain experience unscrewing the keyboard properly without damaging the switches or keys as the surrounding layer is quite thin. 

Conclusion

Printed circuit board foam is a good way of changing your keyboard style and look, including better acoustics. So, try using it if you are all about keyboards or are thinking of adding some changes to your old keyboard. Since it is not an expensive option, you can also practice it as a hobby.

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