Developer interview-Keyboard switch B3KL for e-sport

On this page, we will interview Mr. Seto, the developer of the keyboard switch for e-Sports "B3KL", to find out his thoughts on the development of this product.

What are the Omron switches mounted on the laptops for e-Sports like?

When it comes to conventional laptop keyboards, most companies adopt membrane switches (which constitute contact points for all key buttons of the keyboard in one electrode sheet), while Omron has developed the B3KL mechanical keyboard switches used in the field of laptops (each switch constitutes a contact point).
* Some laptops are not applicable.

comparison between the conventional membrane switch and new mechanical keyboard switch

Comparison between the conventional membrane switch and new mechanical keyboard switch

Mr,Seto's photo

OMRON Cooperation Electronic and Mechanical Components Company
Fine Mechanical R&D Group 2, Product Development Division, Business Management Division
Junichi Seto

(The division was current as of time of development)

Please tell us about the structure of the switches mounted on laptops for e-Sports. How is it different from a regular laptop keyboard?

Gamers often stand by with the keys on the keyboard half-pressed. To achieve this on laptops, mechanical keyboard switches with a typing feel were developed. Generally, the feel generation component in membrane switches is a rubber construction. The mechanical keyboard switch creates FS curve waveforms that cannot be achieved with rubber, enabling the sharp, clicking feel.

Explanatory drawing of FS Curve Waveform

FS Curve Waveform

Please tell us about the features other than the feel.

Explanatory drawing of central illumination

Center Illumination

There are two significant features. One is that the keyboard illuminates by "central illumination." We requested cooperation from the optical design department and devised a swirl-shaped optical design. It is a specification that illuminates uniformly and softly on one switch instead of illuminating brightly.

Structural drawing of link member

Structure of Link Mechanism

And the other is the design of the "link component". For example, even when the edge of a key is pressed, it can be pressed down straight firmly. This is also patented (Patent No. 6702239).

You seemed to have encountered difficulties in mass production. Please share with us about the details.

There are two major difficulties.
The first is that we could not reproduce the sharp tactile sensation in the mass production prototype.
It was due to plastic deformation of the press components during assembly. The deformation could not be determined by the appearance dimension measurement after assembly, so it was difficult to determine the causes.
The second is due to the applied force during the inspection, the press-fit terminals ended up floating after the inspection. Moreover, it was not detectable in the initial characteristics inspection of the production line process inspection.
So, an inspection method was devised by working together with manufacturing/production engineering departments. Specifically, in order to change the way the terminals are crimped, a jig dedicated for B3KL was manufactured. These difficulties were overcome by utilizing the knowledge in production engineering of the conventional model (B3K) held by the members of manufacturing/production engineering departments.

Lastly, could you tell us about the future of keyboard switches for e-Sports?

The variations of B3KL are only available with the clicking feel. In the future, we hope to provide variations to satisfy the needs of various gamers, such as a silent type and a low-profile type. By advancing the standardization of design and manufacturing, we believe that all the variations planned in the future can be manufactured on the same production line.

*B3KL was discontinued in August 2023.

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