The Keyguard Blog
Lasered Pics offers the greatest number of materials for keyguards of any manufacturer. In this blog we'll help you understand the differences so you can choose the material that will best work for your keyguard users.
Lasered Pics can make a keyguard in any configuration to match any app. We make our keyguards to match the settings you have chosen in the app, rather than requiring you to set the app to match our keyguard. Combined with your choice of materials, these options make our made-to-order keyguards truly customizable to a degree our competitors can't match.
Polymethyl methacrylate (PMMA) is a common thermoplastic usually called acrylic, and often recognized by the brand names Plexiglass, Perspex,and Lucite. It is most commonly transparent, though it is available in a variety of colors and opacities. PMMA is more flexible than glass and tends to crack rather than shatter, making it much safer than glass. It is laser cuttable, making it perfect for custom keyguards. Though it can crack under extreme bending, it is plenty strong to withstand normal use and abuse.
Lasered Pics offers clear PMMA in thicknesses of 1/8", 3/16", and 1/4". We also offer a variety of colored acrylics in 1/8" and 1/4". Colored acrylics help the user see the keyguard openings, however, they also obscure what's on the screen. Therefore, colored acrylics should not be selected for apps for sighted users when the software does not provide space between the cells.
Examples of apps with good cell spacing where colored acrylics work well: GoTalk Now, Compass, Proloquo2Go when cell spacing is Loose or Very Loose. Examples of apps with poor spacing where colored acrylics should be avoided: TouchChat, LAMP Words for Life, Proloquo2Go when cell spacing is Normal, Compact, or Very Compact.
Lasered Pics offers semi-transparent acrylics like Smoke Black and Flamingo that allow for good differentiation of the cells while allowing the user to see everything on the screen. Semi-transparent acrylics are a good compromise when there is no space between the cells.
Colored acrylics are a great choice for keyguards on keyboards and laptops, giving them a fun, personal touch.
Thicker acrylic is much more rigid than thinner acrylic, and less likely to break. Also, thicker acrylic keeps the fingers farther from the screen and helps to prevent false touches.
All Lasered Pics acrylics are standard PMMA except for the 1/8" clear acrylic, which is what's called an impact-modified PMMA, sold under the name Resist 45. It will handle very hard impacts without chipping or cracking, and its flexural strength is greater than standard PMMA, making it less breakable under bending.
1/8" Resist 45 is the default material for all Lasered Pics tablet keyguards due to its increased strength over standard PMMA.
Acrylic keyguards are often made the same day they are ordered, and are usually shipped within a week when everything is in order. The only exceptions are when we are waiting on the customer for complete information, when we have high demand for one of the less popular colors, or when we are out of the office for a trade show or conference.
PMMA/Acrylic Styrene (ADA-compliant)
This is a variety of acrylic that is great for making keyguards. It is more than 50% PMMA with a majority of the rest being acrylic styrene, a more flexible plastic. This makes it much less prone to cracking when bent. In fact, it is so flexible you need to just about fold it over to make it crack.
PMMA/acrylic styrene is designed for signage compliant with to the American Disabilities Act (ADA), which requires it to be non-glare. As such, it is not quite as clear as standard PMMA. The manufacturer rates it as 95% transparent. The screen appears slightly darker through the acrylic, though it can still easily be read. This has a distinct benefit, though, in that it helps to visibly separate the openings a little, unlike the more transparent keyguards which can blend in with the background.
Lasered Pics keyguards made from acrylic styrene come with a two-year guarantee against breakage. They can be laser cut, so we have the greatest flexibility of design and the usual quick turnaround time.
Because of its high visibility, high transparency, high strength, and laserability, we expect ADA-compliant acrylic styrene to become a best-seller.
Polycarbonate is a thermoplastic polymer of carbonate groups that is extremely strong and durable. It can be bent to extreme angles without breaking. It is most commonly transparent, though many colors are available. As such it is the premium material for Lasered Pics keyguards, and it comes with a lifetime guarantee against breakage.
Polycarbonate is the material of choice for keyguards with long, thin bars of plastic. Lasered Pics polycarbonate keyguards have a lifetime guarantee against breakage! Polycarbonate cannot be reliably laser cut, therefore it is milled, which allows us to bevel the edges of the cells, giving them a nice, soft feel, as opposed to the hard edges left by laser cutting.
When ordering keyguards, choose polycarbonate for apps with no space between the cells, or for cases which don't allow enough room for thicker perimeter bars. Check here for information about the most popular cases and how much room they allow for strong keyguards.
Since polycarbonate keyguards are manufactured offsite, please allow an extra week for their manufacture.
Looking for a classy way to set your keyguard apart from the others? Lasered PIcs makes keyguards out of real wood. Since they are opaque, they are not suitable for apps without space between the cells. However, they are great for apps with adequate room and give an executive look to keyguards on keyboards and laptops.
Wood keyguards make a wonderful conversation piece and a unique experience for the user. Their old-world beauty is a remarkable contrast to the high-tech of the iPad! Wood also provides a great tactile experience for low-vision users and users with high tactile needs.
Wood keyguards come unfinished. They are laser cut, so there are no splinters, but light staining enhances their beauty. We recommend a polyurethane finish. Minwax Wipe-On Poly Clear Satin is an excellent choice!
Please allow an extra week for wood keyguards.
When ordering a custom keyguard layout, you will need to provide us with a screen shot we can use to design it. Since our keyguards are made to be pixel-perfect, it is not sufficient to take a picture of the iPad with the app running on it. A screen shot gives us the exact location [...]
In Part One, we discussed the two types of cases in general and the different ways Lasered Pics uses to attach the keyguards to the case. In this part, we'll cover the specifics of the most popular cases pertaining to the attachment of keyguards. More cases will be added to this page as time permits. Be [...]
In this part we’ll discuss general issues regarding cases. See Part Two for detailed information about specific cases as it pertains to keyguards. Since every Lasered Pics keyguard can be custom fit to the user’s case, we have experience with more different cases than just about anyone, and people are always asking us “Which case should [...]
For those of you who don't know us, we are the owners of Marblesoft, a developer of special needs software since 1983. When our friends at Cadan Assistive Technologies called to tell us about an opportunity to purchase Lasered Pics, we immediately recognized how nicely it would complement our software products for Mac, Windows [...]
One of the more popular AAC apps is TouchChat. It is also one of the AAC apps with the most user options that affect the design of the keyguard. In addition to the number of cells in each row and column, you have many options for controlling what appears in the speech display, how big it [...]