Not all keypads are made of hard plastic. While plastic keypads are used in countless consumer and commercial applications, silicone rubber keypads have become a popular alternative. Also known as an elastomeric keypad, a silicone rubber keypad is an electrical switch featuring silicone rubber webbing. In this post, we’re going to reveal five facts about silicone rubber keypads, some of which may surprise you.
#1) They Produce Natural Tactile Feedback
If you’ve ever used a silicone rubber keypad, you may recall the “popping” sensation it produces. With their silicone rubber construction, they offer natural tactile feedback to improve user satisfaction and overall input accuracy. Pressing a button on a silicone rubber keypad causes the button to deform, and when you release the button, it “pops” back up, thereby producing natural tactile feedback.
#2) They Support Laser Etching
Silicone rubber keypads support laser etching to achieve stylish, highly visible keys and legends. During this process, a controlled laser beam is used to burn off the top coat layer of paint, allowing a lighter color to show. Next, a backlight is embedded within the keypad to selectively illuminate the laser-etched surface.
#3) They Have a Sharp Corner Radius
The corners of silicone rubber keypads are very sharp, with those offered at Nelson-Miller yielding a 0.5-millimeter corner radius. Why does this matter? With a sharp corner radius, silicone rubber keypads are easier — and arguably more comfortable — to use than conventional plastic keypads.
#4) Pigments Can Be Injected Into the Keys
Colored pigments can be injected into the keys of a silicone rubber keypad to achieve one or more custom colors. When pigment is added to a key, the key’s color changes to reflect that of the pigment. It’s a highly effective way to customize the color and appearance of a silicone rubber keypad. Of course, colored pigment typically isn’t used if the silicone rubber keypad has a laser-etched surface that’s illuminated with backlighting.
#5) They Rely on Conductive Pills
Silicone rubber keypads rely on one or more conductive pills to perform their intended operation of controlling an electrical switch. Underneath the switch button is a pill made of a conductive material like carbon or gold. When you press the button, the pill pushes into the printed circuit board (PCB), thereby closing the electrical circuit and registering your command.
These are just a few interesting facts about silicone rubber keypads. You can learn more about them by checking out our page here.