If you’re thinking about purchasing a silicone rubber keypad, you should consider the backlighting. Contrary to what some people believe, silicone rubber keypads do, in fact, support backlighting. It’s an otherwise simple feature that’s able to improve the aesthetics, as well as performance, of a silicone rubber keypad. With that said, silicone rubber keypads support several different types of backlighting.
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) are often used for backlighting in silicone rubber keypads. LED backlighting is popular because of its long-lasting, energy-efficient properties. Like with other forms of LED lighting, LED backlighting consumes only a minimal amount of power. Therefore, it offers cost-savings benefits for consumers and business owners.
In addition to LEDs, light guides can be used to illuminate a silicone rubber keypad from underneath. What are light guides exactly? Basically, they are thin strands of a transparent material like glass or plastic that are combined with thin filaments. As their name suggests, they are designed to distribute light by “guiding” it. Light guides are used in conjunction with another backlighting solution. The backlighting solution produces illumination, whereas the light guides distribute the light throughout the silicone rubber keypad.
Another type of backlighting used in silicone rubber keypads is fiber optic. Fiber optic backlighting is similar to light guide backlighting in that both types involve the use of thin glass or plastic strands. Like LED, fiber optic backlighting is energy efficient and long-lasting.
Finally, electroluminescent (EL) backlighting is available for silicone rubber keypads. It’s able to provide a sufficient amount of illumination to enhance the appearance and performance of a silicone rubber keypad. The downside to EL backlighting, however, is that it requires more power than LED backlighting. When compared to LED backlighting, EL backlighting consumes noticeably more power.
What About Laser Etching?
It’s important to note that silicone rubber keypads are often laser etched to enhance the effects of backlighting. With laser etching, a high-powered laser is used to selectively melt and remove paint from specific areas of the top layer. Once the paint is removed, the backlighting will illuminate the keypad in that area.
Laser etching only works, however, if the silicone rubber keypad has backlighting. Without backlighting, the laser-etched area or areas won’t be illuminated. Not all silicone rubber keypads with backlighting are laser etched, but all or most laser-etched silicone rubber keypads do feature backlighting.