Can You Convert a Membrane Keyboard to Mechanical?

  • Post published:February 26, 2022
  • Post category:Keyboard
  • Post author:
  • Reading time:9 mins read

A keyboard is a very essential equipment for any computer user. Typing on a keyboard that is suitable for you will improve your efficiency and pleasure. Mainly there are two types of keyboards: membrane and mechanical keyboards.

Over the past few years, mechanical keyboards have become increasingly popular. And it is not a secret that mechanical keyboards are faster than membrane keyboards, with twice as quick response time. They are designed to provide a better typing experience with added comfort. And if you are a gamer then without a mechanical keyboard, your gaming setup is incomplete.

However, along with the popularity and demand for mechanical keyboards, they are becoming more expensive. On the other hand, membrane keyboards are much cheaper than mechanical keyboards. That is why many keyboard enthusiasts wonder if they can convert their old membrane keyboards into mechanical ones.

That would be great if you could convert your old membrane keyboards into mechanical ones. But, things are not that simple. Before giving a final answer to this query, so many things should be taken into consideration.

Therefore, in this article, we are going to explain all the things in detail and try to give you a clear answer. So, make sure you read the article to the end.

Defining what a mechanical keyboard actually is and how it works is essential before answering the main question. There are a lot of people who don’t know what mechanical keyboards are. This is likely due to not researching about them.

In short, a mechanical keyboard is a keyboard that includes an individual switch underneath each key. A mechanical switch is made of several moving parts which include a stem that attaches to the keycap and a spring that holds it up. When you press a key, the spring pushes the metal contacts together so the keyboard’s circuitry registers the press.

Read: How to Tell If a Keyboard is Mechanical?

Typists and gamers prefer mechanical keyboards due to their tactile feedback and satisfying typing experience. They are designed to provide a faster response than traditional keyboards out there.

What are membrane keyboards?

Unlike mechanical keyboards, membrane keyboards don’t include a separate switch underneath each key. Membrane keyboards don’t rely on separate moving parts. These keyboards come with membrane switch technology.

Read: Chiclet VS Mechanical Keyboard: Which One is Better?

Membrane keyboards have a rubber-like membrane that contacts the PCB when you press any key. Then the circuit sends the information to the CPU and the keypress gets registered. This is similar to the way laptop keyboards register keypresses. In order for the rubber layer to make contact with the circuit, the keys must be pressed very hard.

Since membrane keyboards don’t include separate switches, they provide very little tactile feedback when typing. In terms of response time, membrane keyboards are much slower than mechanical keyboards which makes them unable to keep pace with your inputs. However, these keyboards are still popular among normal users due to their minimalistic design and budget-friendly price range.

Why Would Someone Want To Convert His Keyboard?

Having proved that mechanical keyboards are superior to membrane keyboards, there is a large number of people who want to convert their membrane keyboards. Also, it is possible that someone had heard praise for the mechanical keyboard and was considering converting his old membrane keyboard instead of buying one.

Most computer users like mechanical keyboards because of their comfort. With a mechanical keyboard, you can type more comfortably, which leads to more productive working sessions. However, mechanical keyboards are much more expensive than membrane keyboards. And it is one of the reasons why many want to convert their membrane keyboards.

In addition, many people may think that turning a membrane keyboard into a mechanical is much cheaper than replacing the keyboard. It’s likely that you are one of them since you are currently reading this article, correct?

Also, in the mechanical keyboard market, there are so many enthusiasts who have a strong interest in computer tech and like to play with their equipment. They try to convert their old membrane keyboards into mechanical ones out of curiosity. These enthusiasts have a good understanding of the inner workings of keyboards.

Read: 7 Desktop Keyboards that Feel Like Laptop Keyboards

Can You Convert A Membrane Keyboard To Mechanical?

The short and simple answer to this question is no, you cannot convert a membrane keyboard to mechanical. Don’t worry, we will explain why.

The first reason why you cannot turn a membrane keyboard into a mechanical is the structural differences between the two keyboards. They rely on different types of switches to register your keypresses. While membrane keyboards are designed with silicone rubber dome sheets or pressure pads, mechanical keyboards include a separate switch underneath each key.

Even if you could convert a membrane keyboard to a mechanical keyboard by swapping the PCB or following any other method, it would not be as simple as switching from Cherry MX Red switches to Cherry MX Blue switches. You would need to take apart the frame and change the printed circuit board.

Read: How to Reduce Keyboard Noise?

So, you can imagine that the process is very difficult as well as very risky. After you take the keyboard apart, it may not be possible to reassemble it. Also, not all the membrane keyboards out there allow you to remove the pressure pads, like on mechanical keyboards. Plus, any tinkering could end up causing irreparable damage to your keyboard.

However, there are a few methods to turn membrane keyboards into mechanical but they are not for any casual computer user. Performing those methods incorrectly may cause permanent damage to your keyboard.

How To Convert A Membrane Keyboard To Mechanical?

A few keyboard enthusiasts have attempted to convert their membrane keyboards into mechanical keyboards, despite the fact that the process is quite difficult and risky. If you are a casual computer user, then I would not recommend doing it.

To get started, make sure you are familiar with all the internal components of your membrane keyboard as well as how to construct and disassemble it. Having soldering equipment, knowledge on how to use that equipment, and working with circuitry would also be necessary.

If you really want to try the conversion then follow the steps below.

1. Take the keyboard apart

The first thing you need to do is disassemble the keyboard. The keycaps must be unscrewed from the top part, along with the frame and PCB, which have to be separated. Remove all the parts, lay them out on a flat safe surface and keep track of all the parts.

2. Separate the membrane from circuitry board

After the keyboard has been taken apart and stripped down, you need to separate the membrane layer from the PCB and set it aside. Depending on the keyboard model, the membrane layer can be soldered on the keyboard or simply clipped on. While separating the membrane, make sure you don’t damage the PCB.

3. Fit the mechanical switchboard to the PCB

Here comes the main task. In this part, you have to solder the mechanical switchboard to the PCB. The problem is unless you take the membrane keyboard fully apart, you don’t know whether the mechanical switchboard will even line up in such a way that it can be soldered on. And by then, the damage could be irreparable.

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This shows how tricky it is to convert a membrane keyboard into a mechanical one, and there is no guarantee that you will end up with a functional keyboard. It may be better to buy a cheap mechanical keyboard.

Also, converting a membrane keyboard into mechanical requires some equipment. If you don’t have all the necessary equipment then it would likely cost you considerably more than buying a new mechanical keyboard.

Those who are passionate about computers may be willing to convert their membrane keyboards into mechanical ones. They are familiar with keyboards, which helps them in this process. In any case, if you are one of those people who don’t understand how a keyboard works, you should stay away from it.

Conclusion

By now, it should be clear that converting a membrane keyboard to a mechanical one is impractical. There is just no point in trying to convert the one you already have since it isn’t worth the hassle.

Also, as you are reading this article, it is likely that you don’t have the knowledge and experience to convert a keyboard yourself. Therefore, I would recommend you stay away. If you like mechanical keyboards then just buy a new one.

We hope you understood the main point of this article. Thanks for being with us 🙂