Apple Confirms 2018 MacBook Pro Keyboard Has 'Membrane' to 'Prevent Debris From Entering the Butterfly Mechanism'

In an internal document distributed to Apple Authorized Service Providers, obtained by MacRumors from multiple reliable sources, Apple has confirmed that the third-generation keyboard on 2018 MacBook Pro models is equipped with a "membrane" to "prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism."

ifixitbutterflykeyboardteardown

Image Credit: iFixit

The relevant excerpt from Canadian and European versions of Apple's internal 2018 MacBook Pro Service Readiness Guide:

Keyboard and Keycaps
The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. The procedure for the space bar replacement has also changed from the previous model. Repair documentation and service videos will be available when keycap parts begin shipping.

While the U.S. version of this Service Readiness Guide does not mention the membrane, it contains a link to a separate internal document titled "Butterfly Mechanism Keycap Replacement MacBook Pro (2018)" that does:

Caution: The keyboard has a membrane under the keycaps to prevent debris from entering the butterfly mechanism. Be careful not to tear the membrane. A torn membrane will result in a top case replacement.

In its teardown of the new 13-inch MacBook Pro with Touch Bar last week, the repair experts at iFixit were first to discover the thin, silicone barrier underneath the keycaps, and theorized that it was to prevent dust indeed. Apple filed a patent for a contaminant-resistant MacBook keyboard back in 2016.

Publicly, Apple has only confirmed that 2018 MacBook Pro models feature an "improved third-generation keyboard for quieter typing," but many suspected that the silicon membrane was actually to prevent "contaminant ingress," fancy speak for the crumbs from your sandwich that you ate at your desk for lunch.

Following years of anecdotal complaints from customers, and a few class action lawsuits, Apple initiated a worldwide service program last month, offering free repairs of 2015-and-later MacBook and 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro keyboards, which are equipped with low-profile butterfly switch mechanisms.

We've already reported about the service program in more detail, but the gist is that those particular MacBook and MacBook Pro models can experience issues with sticky, unresponsive, or inconsistently functioning keys when small particles like dust or crumbs get stuck underneath the shallower keycaps.

Apple confirmed to MacRumors that third-generation keyboards will not be offered as replacements under its service program for 2016 and 2017 MacBook Pro second-generation keyboard repairs, likely due to a tweaked top case design.

We've reached out to Apple for comment.

Related Roundups: MacBook Pro 13", MacBook Pro 16"
Related Forum: MacBook Pro

Top Rated Comments

mvp2885 Avatar
37 months ago
Insane in the Membrane
Score: 58 Votes (Like | Disagree)
jb-net Avatar
37 months ago
Let's see:

* Apple designed a faulty keyboard in order to make the MBP 0.01 mm thinner
* Apple denied the problem even as data and hard facts proved them otherwise
* Only after some class action lawsuits went public Apple launched a keyboard replacement program
* Apple replaces faulty 2016 and 2017 keyboards with the same old faulty designed keyboards that will fail again - it's just a matter of time
* Apple released a new MBP with a fixed keyboard. This keyboard won't be available to 2016/2017 MBP owners.
* If you want a working keyboard just spend another 2,400-7,000 USD to buy a new 2018 MBP but please don't do anything more than surfing the web, sending emails or writhing a letter. Otherwise your powerful 6-core MBP will start throttling down to 800 MHz.

Doesn't make the best impression to me :mad:
Score: 44 Votes (Like | Disagree)
JesperA Avatar
37 months ago
Great, so they basically admitted that the last generation had problems with debris ingestion that was solved or atleast mitigated with the 2018 MBP - BUT - us with last years model are sorely stuck with the crappier design, even if we get a free service at any Apple store, we still only get another one of the crappier design that in time also most likely will fail.

I feel so great being stuck with a 2017 fully loaded MBP with several keys not working and the B key repeating 2-3 presses with every press.

Sure, things get updated and improved all the time but leaving us stranded on an isolated island when there is solution to the problem is kinda crappy
Score: 34 Votes (Like | Disagree)
shadowmatt Avatar
37 months ago
The article should have started by saying Apple Lied.

Last week they said it had nothing to do with dirt and was to make the keyboard quieter.

This is a lie, one that was easily shown after people had a chance to tear apart the new laptop.

I hope this is used in the lawsuits against them. They should also be fined for every time they charged a customer for a keyboard fix, as they were committing fraud and other violations of consumer laws.

Think about that. Apple has knows for a while now about the issue and denied it, whilst designing and manufacturing a new keyboard to fix the issue. They charged hundreds $$$ for a fix as they glued lots of components to the part with the keyboard, a bad design mistake and one that punishes the customer.

But they knew that charge was fraudulent as they were legally required to fix manufacturing and design defects.

Refunding people isn't enough, they should be compensated. To be defrauded of hundreds of $$$, thousands if you count their advertising about their great new keyboard is a material loss. People may have needed that money for other things, they might have gone into debt to pay for the repair.
Score: 23 Votes (Like | Disagree)
AndyMacAndMic Avatar
37 months ago
Your quite the victim aren't you? If you have issues just bring it in for repairs and they'll fix or replace your keyboard for free.

I've been using my 2017 MacBook Pro daily since pretty much the day it was released. I have no issues whatsoever. But then again, I don't crumb food all over it.
Please don't be so condescending to others because your keyboard still works.

Apple admitted the keyboards have a design flaw.
All the reviewers know the keyboards have a design flaw.
Lot's of people have a problem with those keyboards.
There are numerous threads on this site and on others sites about the faulty keyboards.

And you are still blaming people for crumbing food over it? Maybe the person you reacted to treats his/hers laptop with utter care. You simply can't know.

How ignorant can you be?
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)
Andres Cantu Avatar
37 months ago
What will it take for Apple to admit their initial designs were flawed? Another throttle-gate?
Score: 18 Votes (Like | Disagree)

Top Stories

apple watch ecg

Apple Watch Likely to Gain Blood Pressure, Blood Glucose, and Blood Alcohol Monitoring

Monday May 3, 2021 4:03 am PDT by
The Apple Watch may gain the ability to measure blood pressure, blood glucose, and blood alcohol levels, according to newly-revealed information about one of Apple's chosen business partners. Apple has been revealed to be the largest customer of the British electronics start-up Rockley Photonics, The Telegraph reports. Rockley Photonics has developed non-invasive optical sensors for...
airtags teardown tile mat galaxy smarttag

iFixit Shares AirTag Teardown Revealing 'Impressively Compact' Design Compared to Tile Mate and Galaxy SmartTag

Sunday May 2, 2021 4:54 am PDT by
iFixit has shared the first of its two-part series in tearing down Apple's AirTag item tracker, revealing that Apple had to make impressive design decisions to achieve its small design, including rethinking the speaker layout. For comparison, iFixit compared Apple's AirTag to the Tile Mate and the Samsung Galaxy SmartTag. Compared to the competition, AirTag is the smallest in size, with the...
facebook instargram updated att prompt 1

Facebook and Instagram Ask Users to Enable App Tracking in Order to Keep Services 'Free of Charge'

Sunday May 2, 2021 1:22 pm PDT by
As a way to convince users to enable tracking across other apps and websites, Facebook is deploying the tactic of telling users that they must enable tracking as part of the App Tracking Transparency framework in iOS 14.5 if they want to help keep Facebook and Instagram "free of charge." App Tracking Transparency or ATT is the newest privacy feature to come to iPhone and iPad devices as part ...
Flat 2021 MacBook Pro Mockup Feature 1

Mini-LED Display Production Improving for Redesigned MacBook Pro Models Later This Year

Monday May 3, 2021 8:33 am PDT by
Apple supplier TSMT, a key vendor involved in the production of mini-LED displays in the newly announced 12.9-inch iPad Pro, has been able to address technical challenges for the production of mini-LED displays to be used in the upcoming 14 and 16-inch redesigned MacBook Pro models. As reported by DigiTimes, TSMT had initially been facing production constraints with the circuit board and...
Foldable iPhone 2023 Feature Yellow

Kuo: Apple to Launch 8-Inch Foldable iPhone in 2023

Sunday May 2, 2021 8:43 pm PDT by
Apple is working to launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, Apple analyst Ming-Chi Kuo said today in a note to investors that was seen by MacRumors. Based on our latest industry survey, we forecast that Apple will likely launch a foldable iPhone with an 8-inch QHD+ flexible OLED display in 2023, with SDC as the exclusive display supplier and Samsung Foundry...
iOS 14 on iPhone feature emergency

Apple Releases iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1 With Fixes for App Tracking Transparency Bug, WebKit Security Issues

Monday May 3, 2021 10:04 am PDT by
Apple today released iOS and iPadOS 14.5.1, minor security updates that come just a week after the release of the iOS 14.5 update. There is also a companion watchOS 7.4.1 update for Apple Watch and an iOS 12.5.3 update for older iPhone and iPad devices that don't support Apple's latest operating system versions. According to Apple's release notes, the update fixes a bug with App Tracking...
General Music and AirPod 3 Feature

Rumor: Apple to Announce Third-Generation AirPods and HiFi Apple Music Tier in 'Coming Weeks'

Saturday May 1, 2021 3:57 am PDT by
Citing sources within the music industry, Hits Double Daily reports that Apple is preparing to launch a new HiFi Apple Music tier in the "coming weeks," which will come alongside the release of the rumored third-generation AirPods. According to the report, the new tier, which will offer high-fidelity music streaming, will cost the same $9.99 monthly subscription as the current individual...
Top Stories 58 Feature 1

Top Stories: iOS 14.5 Released, AirTag Launch, New iMac and iPad Pro Pre-Orders

Saturday May 1, 2021 6:00 am PDT by
After nearly three months of beta testing, Apple this week finally released iOS 14.5, the company's biggest update since the iOS 14 launch last September. One of the main new features included in the update is support for AirTags, Apple's item trackers that also finally became available this week some two years after their existence first leaked. Apple this week also began taking orders for...
tile sticker e1570533758981

Tile CEO: 'We Welcome Competition From Apple, But We Think It Needs to Be Fair'

Tuesday May 4, 2021 9:51 am PDT by
Just after Apple announced its AirTags, Tile CEO CJ Prober relayed his concerns about competing with Apple in the tracking space, and said that Tile would ask Congress to investigate Apple's business practices specific to Find My and item trackers. Prober this week did an interview with Bloomberg, where he further expanded on Tile's complaints about Apple and why he feels that Tile is...
apple music album cover art

iOS 14.6 Beta 1 Code Hints at Upcoming HiFi Apple Music Support

Saturday May 1, 2021 10:41 am PDT by
Apple is laying the groundwork for adding HiFi support to Apple Music which would offer Apple Music subscribers and owners of compatible devices, such as certain models of AirPods, access to high-fidelity audio streaming, according to code within the iOS 14.6 beta discovered by MacRumors. Earlier today, a report claimed that Apple will announce a new $9.99 per month Apple Music tier that...