How are computer keyboards made

This is how a keyboard is created at Cherry

Hans-Christian Dirscherl

Do you know how a keyboard is made? No? Then read in our report how Cherry in Auerbach produces these indispensable PC accessories.

EnlargePC-WELT-Reportage: This is how a keyboard is made at Cherry. Left and in the background the Google Earth view of the Cherry location in Auerbach. On the right in the image section, an industrial robot that manufactures keyboards for Cherry in Auerbach.
© Hans-Christian Dirscherl

Note: This PC WELT report was first published in 2003 on pcwelt.de. Because you usually have more time to read longer articles over Christmas, we are introducing you to this exciting article, which gives you a look at the production of keyboards, again today. Cherry was now called ZF Electronics GmbH and belonged to ZF Friedrichshafen. In the meantime, the Cherry computer input devices division is again an independent GmbH that belongs to a holding company. In November 2019, Cherry moved into a new headquarters in Auerbach. Our report describes the production in the old branch in Auerbach in the Upper Palatinate. We hope you enjoy reading it.

It requires a sure instinct and nothing works without it, but it rarely gets the attention it deserves. Occasionally it is scalded with hot coffee or flash frozen with ice-cold cola. We are talking about the PC keyboard. PC-WELT wanted to know how these indispensable accessories are made. In 2003 we looked over the shoulder of the experts at the German keyboard manufacturer Cherry (which is now part of ZF Friedrichshafen AG) during the development of the CyMotion line at the time.

EnlargeOn the assembly line.
© Hans-Christian Dirscherl

The factory hall shines white, nowhere is dirt to be seen. Between the conveyor belts, houseplants create a neat office atmosphere. But it is a real factory that Heribert Hammerl leads us through. Hammerl has been working for Cherry in Auerbach for 26 years; he is in charge of keyboard production for the largest manufacturer of business keyboards in Germany. A few kilometers to the east, battle tanks of the US Army plow the Upper Palatinate soil. Auerbach is right next to the Grafenwöhr military training area, the largest military training area in Europe.

Cherry in Auerbach

The assembly lines spit out new keyboards five to seven days a week, depending on how busy they are. The workload is greatest during the Christmas season, when the belts run without a break. The contemplative time for Cherry only comes in summer, when five days per week are sufficient.

EnlargeCherry's corporate building

A maximum of three keyboards run every minute from the eight round-the-clock assembly lines in the factory. However, the production number depends on the model manufactured; with a standard keyboard, a device is completed approximately every 20 seconds. Around 18,000 to 20,000 keyboards can be produced per day; in 2003 it will probably be three million. Cherry has been manufacturing keyboards for 30 years. However, before a keyboard takes shape - through the nimble arms of the industrial robots and under the critical gaze of the employees - years of planning and conceptual preparatory work are necessary.