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When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
03-03-2018, 10:25 AM
Post: #1
When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
The original (Classic) series of HP calculators had dual-injection keycaps, so the key legends go all the way through and cannot be worn off by use.

By the time of the HP-31e, it seems the key legends were now printed, and can wear off.

Any idea which is the latest model to have two-shot molded keys, and which is the earliest to have printed legends?
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03-03-2018, 10:44 AM (This post was last modified: 03-03-2018 10:46 AM by Didier Lachieze.)
Post: #2
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
AFAIK printed keys were introduced when the production of the Pioneers and 48 moved to Indonesia in the late 90's.

Before, all HP calculators had double injection molded keys. This was highlighted in the "Welcome" page at the beginning of the Pioneers manual, for example from the 42S manual :
Quote:Advanced materials and permanent, molded key lettering provide a long keyboard life and a positive feel of the keyboard.
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03-03-2018, 11:00 AM
Post: #3
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
AFAICT the changeover must have been earlier than the 90s, as the HP-31e is afflicted with printed keycaps, and was discontinued in 1980. The manual doesn't mention the keycap material construction.
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03-03-2018, 11:06 AM
Post: #4
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
This is the first time I'm hearing about printed keys on 31E, as it was a low cost entry model HP may have tried printed keys but they kept using molded keys on the other models for a long time.
For example, here is a picture showing an HP 48 molded keys where you can see the different colored plastics: http://users.ju.edu/hduong/repair/keyboard_back.jpg
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03-03-2018, 02:06 PM (This post was last modified: 03-03-2018 04:01 PM by jebem.)
Post: #5
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
(03-03-2018 11:00 AM)EdS2 Wrote:  AFAICT the changeover must have been earlier than the 90s, as the HP-31e is afflicted with printed keycaps, and was discontinued in 1980. The manual doesn't mention the keycap material construction.

Sorry, I have to ask, why do you say the 31e uses printed keycaps?
Can you tell what serial number are you referring to?
Usually Singapore made models used double-injection molds.
If you own that calculator, can you open it and inspect the keys underneath?

My Spice 32E uses dual injection molded keys and this model was discontinued in 1983.

That said, my Spice 32E was manufactured in Singapore and has the s/n: 2034S..... meaning it was assembled in 1980 week 34.

So, anyone knows if HP moved the production of the Spices altogether to the Indonesia factories after 1980?

If they did, the word I read in several forums is that Indonesia plants were not using double injection for HP models.

But I don't think there was a specific date for the change over to printed labels for all the HP models at once, but i might be wrong.
I believe the decision was based on cost production savings alone, that eventually forced HP to move the production of each model to other countries, like Indonesia, offering cheaper labor and production costs but not able to offer double injection at that low price point.

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03-03-2018, 06:48 PM
Post: #6
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
Just compared the keys of a 1835A HP-31 to a 2247S HP-32 (soldered) and I can not find any differences without the blue shifted functions printed on the key's front on the 32 of course.
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03-03-2018, 10:21 PM
Post: #7
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
I have a memory of seeing a Voyager with over printed keys. I.e. injection Moulder keys from one model being printed over by another. The 12C was one of the models but I’m unclear which.

Pauli
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03-04-2018, 12:30 AM
Post: #8
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
(03-03-2018 10:21 PM)Paul Dale Wrote:  I have a memory of seeing a Voyager with over printed keys. I.e. injection Moulder keys from one model being printed over by another. The 12C was one of the models but I’m unclear which.

Pauli

Pauli is right, there are definitely examples around of (IIRC) 15C machines, where some of the key-tops had the 15C function names printed on what were originally 12C keys.

I thought I had the page with photos bookmarked, but it seems I'm not as OCD as I thought, but I believe they were on a page in an old forum thread here.

--Bob Prosperi
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03-04-2018, 12:53 AM
Post: #9
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
(03-04-2018 12:30 AM)rprosperi Wrote:  Pauli is right, there are definitely examples around of (IIRC) 15C machines, where some of the key-tops had the 15C function names printed on what were originally 12C keys.

I thought I had the page with photos bookmarked, but it seems I'm not as OCD as I thought, but I believe they were on a page in an old forum thread here.

http://www.hpmuseum.org/collect.htm#variations

(Scroll down until 10C Series Versions)
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03-04-2018, 09:18 AM
Post: #10
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
It's possible I'm mistaken about the 31E (although I think the question of the history is still interesting.)

This photo was my starting point - I don't have a 31E:
[Image: w584-h778-n-rw]

You'll notice two of the keys are worn blank, then had been relabelled by hand and that had (of course) also worn blank.

The observation that two-shot keys were sometimes overprinted to balance production is also an interesting one.
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03-04-2018, 09:32 AM
Post: #11
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
(03-03-2018 10:44 AM)Didier Lachieze Wrote:  AFAIK printed keys were introduced when the production of the Pioneers and 48 moved to Indonesia in the late 90's.

I second that. Printing legends rather than two-shot molded didn't change the feel and the performance though. And this is what got lost, 49 and further models have low quality keys. Sad to say so, but otherwise brilliant new swiss micro DM42 is also far behind as far as keyboard is concerned.
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03-04-2018, 11:26 AM
Post: #12
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
side question. Do printed keys really wear off so easily? It is not a question to convey "who cares about molded keys", I really want to know whether printed keys are that bad.

In my experience symbols on keys wear off mostly when the print is light, although it happens still after enough use. I worn off a couple of symbols on some cheap computer keyboards, but likely after tens of thousands of key presses on each of those keys. Many other (cheap) keyboards are lasting for years with all the symbols still there.
Tens of thousand of key presses on a single key of a calculator keyboard are a dream for me.

Another thing I observed is that I scratched away (due to hitting with the nails the small keys) the symbols from some keys on two cellphones with physical keyboards (nokia 3109 classic and nokia e5-00), but after years of intense usage, mostly texting and logging notes.

Has anyone ever worn off printed symbols on calculator keyboards? (whatever calculators, even those with big keys for accounting) Of course not considering defective printing, that can peel off or the like.

Wikis are great, Contribute :)
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03-04-2018, 11:46 AM
Post: #13
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
(03-04-2018 12:53 AM)Gerson W. Barbosa Wrote:  
(03-04-2018 12:30 AM)rprosperi Wrote:  Pauli is right, there are definitely examples around of (IIRC) 15C machines, where some of the key-tops had the 15C function names printed on what were originally 12C keys.

I thought I had the page with photos bookmarked, but it seems I'm not as OCD as I thought, but I believe they were on a page in an old forum thread here.

http://www.hpmuseum.org/collect.htm#variations

(Scroll down until 10C Series Versions)

The link says:
Quote:Late versions of the HP-11C, 15C and 16C were made with HP-12C keys that were either (re)painted or were made using worn molds for other keys.

Personally I have only seen the latter, double shot keys showing a ghost labelling from worn out mold.
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03-04-2018, 01:55 PM
Post: #14
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
(03-04-2018 11:26 AM)pier4r Wrote:  side question. Do printed keys really wear off so easily? It is not a question to convey "who cares about molded keys", I really want to know whether printed keys are that bad.

In my experience symbols on keys wear off mostly when the print is light, although it happens still after enough use. I worn off a couple of symbols on some cheap computer keyboards, but likely after tens of thousands of key presses on each of those keys. Many other (cheap) keyboards are lasting for years with all the symbols still there.
Tens of thousand of key presses on a single key of a calculator keyboard are a dream for me.

Another thing I observed is that I scratched away (due to hitting with the nails the small keys) the symbols from some keys on two cellphones with physical keyboards (nokia 3109 classic and nokia e5-00), but after years of intense usage, mostly texting and logging notes.

Has anyone ever worn off printed symbols on calculator keyboards? (whatever calculators, even those with big keys for accounting) Of course not considering defective printing, that can peel off or the like.

Not on calculators but I have on a fair number of data collectors over the years.
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03-04-2018, 02:05 PM
Post: #15
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
Thanks for the link Gerson, it turns out it's on a page that I do have bookmarked, though no need of course... (you see, OCD after all).

The only real example of "re-used" key tops I ever saw in-person was at a PPC meeting in the 80's where it was concluded the final key label was simply painted on an older key that had been re-purposed. The idea of worn key molds was not discussed, although it seems feasible, but if this was the case I'd assume there would be many more examples floating around waiting to be discovered.

--Bob Prosperi
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03-04-2018, 03:52 PM
Post: #16
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
(03-04-2018 02:05 PM)rprosperi Wrote:  The idea of worn key molds was not discussed, although it seems feasible, but if this was the case I'd assume there would be many more examples floating around waiting to be discovered.

Almost all of my voyagers have these ghost legends on the keys.
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03-04-2018, 08:37 PM
Post: #17
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
(03-04-2018 03:52 PM)Harald Wrote:  
(03-04-2018 02:05 PM)rprosperi Wrote:  The idea of worn key molds was not discussed, although it seems feasible, but if this was the case I'd assume there would be many more examples floating around waiting to be discovered.

Almost all of my voyagers have these ghost legends on the keys.

To my surprise, a little quality time with a magnifying glass and good lighting has revealed:

4 x 11C* with what appears to be an entire 12C keyboard "underneath"

1 x 16C with at least a partial (but possibly full) 15C "underneath"

So it seems there really are plenty of these floating around after all, some even closer than one may suppose.

Thanks for the prod Harald.

* all 11C with '11 over 12' keys are the later single-spring battery bay style, while 1 other later style and 1 early dual-spring battery bay style machine have 11-only keyboards.

--Bob Prosperi
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03-05-2018, 04:46 AM
Post: #18
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
(03-04-2018 11:26 AM)pier4r Wrote:  side question. Do printed keys really wear off so easily? It is not a question to convey "who cares about molded keys", I really want to know whether printed keys are that bad.
There are a few Indonesia made HP48's (BW screens) I see occasionally - mine and some friends' - NONE has worn-off keys, and some are heavily used.
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03-05-2018, 11:11 AM
Post: #19
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
Looking at that 31E, I doubt the original keys were worn away. My guess is they were deliberately repurposed and it is the repurposed lettering that has worn away. Perhaps carefully cleaning away the repurposing paint (or whatever material used) may reveal the original lettering.
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03-05-2018, 12:54 PM
Post: #20
RE: When did HP retire their two-shot molded keys?
(03-05-2018 11:11 AM)BartDB Wrote:  Looking at that 31E, I doubt the original keys were worn away. My guess is they were deliberately repurposed and it is the repurposed lettering that has worn away. Perhaps carefully cleaning away the repurposing paint (or whatever material used) may reveal the original lettering.

That what I was thinking as well.
Although, not having the actual machine in your hand to check it, it is impossible to know from that picture what really happened.

Long time ago (late 70's) I worked for a consumer and telecommunications company that happened to also distribute HP calculators.
As such we had access to some scrap boards and spare parts that otherwise would end up in the garbage bin.
From those parts I could actually build one or two of my poor young man's HP calculators, but, guess what, I had some keys missing, so I have used physically identical keys and have used stickers over the key caps to to the correct labels on it.

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