Ergodox-EZ Split Keyboard

Ergodox-EZ (and the Spiders from Mars)

Ergodox is a popular open-source design for a split PC keyboard with real mechanical switches (and not the rubber keys most of us type on). Ergodox has a cult following among a somewhat small but dedicated group of fans who believe that this keyboard’s spit design, distinctive “thumb cluster,” and programmability — the keyboard allows you to assign any character or function to any key and have multiple function “layers” — significantly improve the typing speed. The keyboard is also popular for medical reasons — it helps alleviate wrist pain that some users experience after prolonged typing on regular PC keyboards.

Google “ergodox” and you will get hundreds of variations on this popular keyboard concept. Dig deeper, and you will find that most of the designs are not finished products that you can buy off the shelf. Rather, they are design files or do-it-yourself (DIY) kits that require a lot of work to turn them into a finished product.

This DIY nature of the Ergodox offerings is not a problem to some of its customers. Hobbyists and electronics enthusiasts love Ergodox and don’t mind spending several days on painstakingly assembling it. Still, this used to put Ergodox keyboards out of reach of regular PC users who didn’t have the necessary skills or the time to assemble the keyboards by themselves.

Enters Erez Zukerman, a Tibbo alumni and a keyboard aficionado (to the point of taking one of his keyboards anywhere he goes to work). Recognizing an opportunity, Erez has set out to create a “real” Ergodox keyboard that one could buy online, receive in the mail, and start using right away. He decided to call his product “Ergodox-EZ.” These E and Z letters at the end of the Ergodox-EZ name mean “easy” and, of course, they are also Erez’s initials.

Mr. Zukerman’s plan was not only to create a ready-to-use product out of open-source design files readily available on the Internet but also make the product “five-star through-and-through.” The plan also called for offering a large number of choices: the users would be able to select among a dozen types of mechanical switches and also choose the color and type of keycaps. This called for bespoke production setup where a keyboard would be assembled only after the customer placed an order.

Once Erez has made up his mind to go ahead with developing Ergodox-EZ, he called on Tibbo, where he used to work before becoming a journalist and a tech writer. We took one look at the project and at the enthusiasm with which Erez described his newly chosen path in business, and decided to give the project a try. Yes, it had nothing to do with our core business, but it was interesting and unusual. There was definitely room for creativity, and this is what we applied.

First, we took open-source designs that were optimized for machining the keyboards out of flat sheets of acrylic and turned them into designs suitable for mass production (injection molding). We then added our own elements to the design. One noteworthy addition was the spidery legs that became the signature elements of the Ergodox-EZ keyboard. Each side of the split keyboard has three thin metal legs clad in rubber feet. By setting the angle of each leg, you can tilt and tent each keyboard's half in many different ways. We also designed ergonomic wrist rests and added optional RGBW LED lighting.

Once the product design was complete, Erez has launched a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo. Tibbo has assisted not only with the engineering side of the endeavor, but also with handling funds, overseeing the making of the tooling for plastic and metal parts, setting up production at our micromanufacturing facility in Taipei, and creating a dedicated order fulfillment system. This system receives the orders customers make on the Ergodox-EZ shopping site, converts these orders into production orders for Tibbo’s micromanufacturing facility, then fulfills the orders through UPS or DHL when the goods are ready for pickup.


In the course of this project we have provided the following services:

  • Consulted Erez on the best ways to achieve the project’s objective.
  • Carried out the industrial design. Came up with innovative design elements, such as distinctive spidery legs for tilting and tenting keyboard’s halves.
  • Performed the mechanical design.
  • Oversaw the production of tooling for plastic and metal parts.
  • Partially designed the unit’s hardware (electronics).
  • Assisted on the financial side of the crowdfunding campaign.
  • Developed a custom IT system for handling Ergodox-EZ orders, from the online store to production to shipping.
  • Handled CE and FCC certification of the product.
  • Produce the product at Tibbo’s micromanufacturing facility in Taipei.
Ergodox-EZ Split Keyboard