MacBook Pro keyboard silicone eases but doesn't solve dust ingress issue

Posted:
in Current Mac Hardware edited July 2018
The addition of the silicone membrane to the butterfly keyboard in the 2018 MacBook Pro may not be that effective in keeping the mechanism free from debris, after testing shows particles can still bypass the protection and cause issues with typing.

Source: iFixit
Source: iFixit


Part of an examination of the 2018 MacBook Pro, iFixit tested the theory that the membrane is meant to protect the key mechanism, by applying a variety of particulates to the keyboard and finding its breaking point.

The initial test using a fine-powdered paint additive found the membrane pushed the dust to the edges, keeping the mechanism clear. Adding more dust and typing aggressively does eventually allow dust to slip in between the membrane and the keycap covering the hole where the keycap clips pass through the silicone layer.

Source: iFixit
Source: iFixit


After finding the system isn't fully protective of the mechanism, the team moved on to using sand, eventually leading to the key failing to function.

On Wednesday, it was discovered some internal and service documentation for the 2018 MacBook Pro claimed the membrane was included to "prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism." Other documents for US personnel and service providers do not make the same claim, while marketing copy has simply mentioned the new keyboard is quieter, without stating anything about it improving reliability.

After removing enough hardware to gain access to the keyboard, the team had to remove all 64 keycaps in order to pull apart the main keyboard layer. The membrane itself turns out to be a "single die-cut and molded sheet" that is applied to the casing before the main section of the keyboard.

A related patent application submitted in March for the membrane is thought to explain how the membrane functions, such as the gaps in the membrane existing to allow both for keycap attachment and to allow key presses without interference from an air cushion. One described implementation sandwiches the membrane between the keyboard and the keycap without connecting it to either, similar to what was discovered in the teardown.

It was also discovered the keycaps used in the new keyboard have received a slight redesign compared to the version used in 2017, with the thickness reduced down from 1.5mm to 1.25mm. It is speculated this gives the keys more room to travel, as well as easier access to pry off individual keys, including the space bar.

The introduction of the membrane is likely to have been prompted by a number of cases where the mechanism failed in the 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro, as well as the MacBook. The issues caused Apple to launch a keyboard service program that provided affected users with free servicing on their notebooks.

Apple has also become the subject of lawsuits over the matter, with two separate class action complaints against the company in May alone calling the butterfly mechanism prone to failure.
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Comments

  • Reply 1 of 58
    racerhomie3racerhomie3 Posts: 1,169member
    Good job Apple.
  • Reply 2 of 58
    backstabbackstab Posts: 138member
    "keeping the mechanism free from debris"
    You have got to be fking kidding me.
    The issue is not keys "free from debris". (What keyboard does that??) The issue is 
    no more stuck, faulty functioning, keys.
    jesus cri!
    bshank[Deleted User]tyler82
  • Reply 3 of 58
    AI’s numbers suggested (I believe) a max failure rate of the old design of 5%, so if this even halves that, the new rate will be 2.5%. I don’t know what the industry standard is but that actually sounds fairly reasonable to me. Ilwahar amazes me is all the pundits who said up until this issue to believe data over anecdotes. Now all the sudden the only data we have doesn’t matter, only the anecdotal experiences of said pundits. 
    tmaypmb01bshankStrangeDayslamboaudi4
  • Reply 4 of 58
    irelandireland Posts: 17,685member
    Very much enjoyed reading the iFixit article. If Ive and Co. are not planning to once and for all make Mac notebook keyboards IP67-ready, they need to be. Tiny particles of dust or even sand should not bring down any Mac keyboards. Such hardware needs to be ready for the real world. Not to mention, it's bad PR the this is a possibility, IMO.

    Loving my trusty MBA.
    edited July 2018 aylk
  • Reply 5 of 58
    slurpyslurpy Posts: 5,193member
    ireland said:
    Very much enjoyed reading the iFixit article. If Ive and Co. are not planning to once and for all make Mac notebook keyboards IP67-ready, they need to be. Tiny particles of dust or even sand should not bring down any Mac keyboards. Such hardware needs to be ready for the real world. Not to mention, it's bad PR the this is a possibility, IMO.

    Loving my trusty MBA.
    I'd wager that in the real world, people aren't pouring sand over their Macbooks. Also, I see a shitload of new MBPs in coffee shops, etc, every single day. So looks like these machines are doing just fine in the real world. There will always be a failure rate, but all evidence suggests it was extremely low for the previous models, and will be even lower now. Apple has the numbers, and they would not have stuck with the same basic mechanism if they were seeing a large percentage of these issues. 
    Rayz2016lkruppandrewj5790pmb01charlesgresStrangeDayslamboaudi4
  • Reply 6 of 58
    tmaytmay Posts: 3,982member
    ireland said:
    Very much enjoyed reading the iFixit article. If Ive and Co. are not planning to once and for all make Mac notebook keyboards IP67-ready, they need to be. Tiny particles of dust or even sand should not bring down any Mac keyboards. Such hardware needs to be ready for the real world. Not to mention, it's bad PR the this is a possibility, IMO.

    Loving my trusty MBA.
    IP67 would require an Industrial or medical grade keyboard, and would not be currently possible on a laptop without significant weight and size compromises.

    The essence is that there wouldn't be enough buyers even if it was produced.
    bshank
  • Reply 7 of 58
    So, if I pour sand on my keyboard, it might not work? 
    chasmdee_deecaladanianuniscapecharlesgresStrangeDays
  • Reply 8 of 58
    slurpy said:
    ireland said:
    Very much enjoyed reading the iFixit article. If Ive and Co. are not planning to once and for all make Mac notebook keyboards IP67-ready, they need to be. Tiny particles of dust or even sand should not bring down any Mac keyboards. Such hardware needs to be ready for the real world. Not to mention, it's bad PR the this is a possibility, IMO.

    Loving my trusty MBA.
    I'd wager that in the real world, people aren't pouring sand over their Macbooks. 
    This reminds me of my all-time favorite warning in an electronics manual, from the Atari VCS: "Don't pour liquids into the Game Program Slot of the Console."

    Buh, not even beerses?
  • Reply 9 of 58
    nunzynunzy Posts: 662member
    Apple never claimed that the membrane protects against filth. This affects only a tiny percentage if users anyways. People always pick on Apple.
    chasmpmb01
  • Reply 10 of 58
    MacBook Pro party at the beach! Tomorrow after work, who's down?
    ivanhiGlowEarthbshankgumashowGeorgeBMacjcs2305
  • Reply 11 of 58
    Rayz2016Rayz2016 Posts: 4,788member
    So, if I pour sand on my keyboard, it might not work? 
    Yes, whoddathunkit?
  • Reply 12 of 58
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,380member
    tmay said:
    ireland said:
    Very much enjoyed reading the iFixit article. If Ive and Co. are not planning to once and for all make Mac notebook keyboards IP67-ready, they need to be. Tiny particles of dust or even sand should not bring down any Mac keyboards. Such hardware needs to be ready for the real world. Not to mention, it's bad PR the this is a possibility, IMO.

    Loving my trusty MBA.
    IP67 would require an Industrial or medical grade keyboard, and would not be currently possible on a laptop without significant weight and size compromises.

    The essence is that there wouldn't be enough buyers even if it was produced.
    I'm curious how that could be achieved? Tiny haptic actuators for each key that will make the user think that travel has been performed, kind of like how the trackpad (which is solid state, but I still don't think would prevent water or very minute dust ingress) makes you think there's been a tap? Can that even be done since registering a tap is different from registering travel?
  • Reply 13 of 58
    wood1208wood1208 Posts: 2,027member
    Is this dust ingress happens because user eats while working with MBP so the crumb start falling between keys and later get pushed into tiny spaces to cripple keys functionality ?
    edited July 2018 bshank
  • Reply 14 of 58
    neilmneilm Posts: 658member
    So, if I pour sand on my keyboard, it might not work? 
    Yeah, amazing, right? Same if you pee on it. 
    Clearly everyone at Apple should be terminated — with extreme prejudice!
  • Reply 15 of 58
    Then it's not the only issue. My $$$ remains with QC issues.
  • Reply 16 of 58
    irelandireland Posts: 17,685member
    nunzy said:
    Apple never claimed that the membrane protects against filth. This affects only a tiny percentage if users anyways. People always pick on Apple.
    Poor, poor Apple. Whaaaa....
    nunzymrc
  • Reply 17 of 58
    irelandireland Posts: 17,685member

    MacBook Pro party at the beach! Tomorrow after work, who's down?
    While that was a funny comment, I think it's fair to say the scissor mechanism was more reliable. Several people had to go back three times because of dust in their keyboard? I never heard stories like these with the old keyboard. Also, don't recall Apple having a program to fix those old keyboards and three class action lawsuits about them. I figure keyboard redesigns should be more relabel, not less so. But look: thinner, and thinner!!
    edited July 2018 GeorgeBMacMplsP
  • Reply 18 of 58
    SoliSoli Posts: 9,380member
    neilm said:
    So, if I pour sand on my keyboard, it might not work? 
    Yeah, amazing, right? Same if you pee on it. 
    Clearly everyone at Apple should be terminated — with extreme prejudice!
    That's ridiculous! You only do that if you need to get rid of the St1ngr4y virus.
    edited July 2018
  • Reply 19 of 58
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 726member
    Soli said:
    tmay said:
    ireland said:
    Very much enjoyed reading the iFixit article. If Ive and Co. are not planning to once and for all make Mac notebook keyboards IP67-ready, they need to be. Tiny particles of dust or even sand should not bring down any Mac keyboards. Such hardware needs to be ready for the real world. Not to mention, it's bad PR the this is a possibility, IMO.

    Loving my trusty MBA.
    IP67 would require an Industrial or medical grade keyboard, and would not be currently possible on a laptop without significant weight and size compromises.

    The essence is that there wouldn't be enough buyers even if it was produced.
    I'm curious how that could be achieved? Tiny haptic actuators for each key that will make the user think that travel has been performed, kind of like how the trackpad (which is solid state, but I still don't think would prevent water or very minute dust ingress) makes you think there's been a tap? Can that even be done since registering a tap is different from registering travel?
    He have no idea what he's saying.  Trying to achieve IP67 with air vent and moving fans......
  • Reply 20 of 58
    DuhSesameDuhSesame Posts: 726member
    Well, screw it.  Is people becoming hypocritical today because they lose all the faith to see a better design?
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