Apple’s 2018 MacBook Pro Keyboards Include Dust Blocking Membrane To Prevent Failures

Apple has taken more than a few hits to the chin over the keyboards used on recent MacBook and MacBook Pro notebooks. Besides the fact that the keys have less travel than the keyboards that preceded them and can be annoyingly loud when typing, they are prone to malfunctions or failing completely when dust or crumbs make their way into the butterfly key mechanism.
macbook pro 2018 keyboard

When Apple announced its 2018 MacBook Pro family yesterday, it said that the keyboards are now “quieter”, but it made no mention of actually resolving the problem with the failure-prone keys. Luckily, the folks at iFixit were able to obtain an early production model of the 2018 15-inch MacBook Pro and dissected the keyboard.

What they found is that Apple is now surrounding the butterfly switches with a thin silicon membrane that prevents dust and other particles from making their way inside. “This flexible enclosure is quite obviously an ingress-proofing measure to prevent the mechanism from seizing up under the brutal onslaught of microscopic dust,” writes iFixit.

“Here’s the really good part: I can tell you it’s there, but I can’t definitively prove it’s a reliability fix.”

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Interestingly enough, an Apple patent that was uncovered earlier this year detailed a dust mitigation technique that is nearly identical to what it presented on the 2018 13-inch and 15-inch MacBook Pro models. The patent details:

These mechanisms may include membranes or gaskets that block contaminant ingress into and/or direct contaminants away from areas under the key caps.

One of the side effects of the silicon membrane is that it means that key presses are now quieter (which Apple acknowledged), which addresses another complaint about the butterfly key mechanism. So, with this “fix”, Apple has [hopefully] killed two birds with one stone.

After facing multiple class action lawsuits over the issues, Apple instituted a costly repair program where customers with malfunctioning keyboards can bring their 2015-2017 MacBooks and MacBook Pros into an Apple Store and have them repaired for free. We can only hope that the replacement keyboards feature the new gasket to prevent further failures down the road.

Top Image Courtesy iFixit