Silicone rubber keypads are often preferred over traditional plastic keypads. They are designed with silicone rubber webbing material. The webbing encases the center of a switch. When you press a button a silicone rubber keypad, the webbing will deform so that the top and bottom switch contacts touch each other, thereby completing the circuit. With their use of silicone rubber webbing material, these unique keypads offer some key features, including the following.
#1) Tactile Feedback
All silicone rubber keypads can produce tactile feedback. It’s a natural phenomenon that occurs when the webbing is deformed. Tactile feedback consists of a physical sensation in response to pressing a button. Silicone rubber keypads produce tactile feedback naturally when you press and release your finger from the button. Pressing the button will deform the silicone rubber webbing. Releasing your finger from the button, on the other hand, will cause the silicone rubber webbing to spring back to its original upright position.
You’ll often find backlighting in silicone rubber keypads. Like many other keypads, they support a variety of backlighting solutions. Silicone rubber keypads can be designed with electroluminescent (EL) backlighting, or they can be designed with light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting. EL is an older technology, whereas LED is a newer and more energy-efficient technology. Regardless, silicone rubber keypads support both types of backlighting solutions.
#3) Laser Etching
Many silicone rubber keypads support laser etching. What is laser etching exactly? Laser etching is a material removal method that involves the use of a laser to selectively burn away the keypad’s top layer of paint. It’s designed to create transparency in specific areas of the keypad. With the paint burned away, the backlighting can beam through the top of the keypad. Silicone rubber keypads support laser etching such as this.
#4) Light Guides or Fiber Optic
Another noteworthy feature of silicone rubber keypads is light guides or fiber optic. If backlighting is used in a silicone rubber keypad, it may feature one of these two light-enhancing components. Light guides and fiber optic are small and thin cables that distribute light evenly throughout the silicone rubber keypad. They don’t produce light. Instead, they guide and distribute the light produced by the backlighting solution.
#5) Custom Key Hardness
Silicone rubber keypads can be designed with custom key hardness. In other words, their respective keys can be soft or hard. Key hardness levels used in silicone rubber keypads often range from 30 to 90 shore A. The higher the hardness level, the harder the keypad’s buttons.