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Scissor Switches and How They Work

Think of how the legs of a folding ironing table, table, or chair work: the scissor-like legs allow the table surface to move up and down, while remaining parallel to the floor. The scissors allow vertical movement without toppling.

Photgraphed by Frank C. Müller

In a regular keyboard, the vertical motion is regulated by a column of plastic that holds the keycap.  In a very flat, laptop keyboard, it’s not possible to have a column that’s tall enough to hold the key vertical.  So, instead, the plastic scissors keep the keycap level.