If you keep up with our blog, you are probably well aware of the benefits of using a membrane keypad over a traditional mechanical keypad with separate moving parts. Because the keys are embedded into a single piece, membrane keypads tend to hold up better under constant use and stress than its mechanical counterpart. But there are ways to enhance the function of membrane keypads even further, including the use of a UV hardcoat.
A strong hardcoat is essential when designing a membrane keypad. If it rubs off, the keys may no longer be visible, at which point the membrane keypad will be difficult to use for its intended purpose. This has prompted many manufacturers of membrane keypads to use ultraviolet (UV) hardcoats.
UV hardcoats are made through exposure and curing of UV light (hence the name). By exposing the hardcoat to UV rays, it adds significant strength and durability, allowing to withstand the hands of time for years to come. If you’re looking for a membrane keypad to use outdoors, you can’t go wrong with a UV hardcoat. The strength added by UV exposure makes it the perfect choice for these otherwise rugged applications. “Curing” the hardcoat with UV light changes its chemical composition in a way that protects it from common forms of damage.
It should come as little-to-no surprise that UV hardcoats are better suited for sunlight than non-UV hardcoats. When used outdoors, UV hardcoats offer a natural barrier of protection from sunlight, protecting the keys from fading.
Of course, there are several different types of UV hardcoats, including Nelson-Miller’s signature proprietary coating called “Neltex.” Because Neltex hardcoats are cured in nitrogen, they are harder and stronger than air-cured hardcoats. Going back to the basics of physics 101, nitrogen does not react with coating chemicals like oxygen. This allows for the polymers to bond with other polymers instead of oxygen; thus, allowing for a stronger hardcoat. Neltex harcoats can even be added to various materials to produce textured backgrounds, gloss and more.
You can learn more about UV hardcoats by accessing this guide.