Silicone rubber keypad designed, engineered, and manufactured for an aerospace client

Plastic is just one of many materials from which keypads are made. Another common material is silicone rubber. Silicone rubber keypads don’t have the same hard and rigid texture. Rather, they are soft and elastic. To learn more about silicone rubber keypads and how they are made, keep reading.

The Basics of Silicone Rubber Keypads

A silicone rubber keypad is a keypad featuring silicone rubber webbing material. Like with most other keypads, they have a switch under each key. These switches are separated from the keys with silicone rubber webbing material. The webbing material forms a shell over the switches that deforms when pressed.

Pressing a key on a silicone rubber keypad will deform the webbing material. The webbing material will squish down under the pressure of your finger. Once the webbing material is fully deformed, the two electrical contacts will touch each other, resulting in the completion of a circuit. When you release your finger, the webbing material will spring back up. In turn, the circuit will break.

The Properties of Silicone Rubber

Silicone rubber webbing material is commonly used in keypads because of the material’s unique properties. It’s not hard or rigid like traditional plastic. Silicone rubber is quite the opposite: it’s soft and elastic.

Because of its elastic properties, silicone rubber eliminates the need for mechanical components. There are no moving “scissor-style” mechanical components. Instead, silicone rubber keypads leverage the elastic properties of the material from which they are made.

With their silicone rubber webbing material, these keypads revert back to their natural state when you release your finger from a key. Silicone rubber is elastic, so when it’s not compressed by your finger, it will spring back up.

How Silicone Rubber Keypads Are Made

Most silicone rubber keypads are made using compression molding. This manufacturing process involves the application of heat and pressure to create objects out of a polymer.

To make a silicone rubber keypad, a manufacturer will typically heat a polymer, followed by injecting the heated polymer into a mold a cavity. The top of the mold is then plugged so that none of the polymer will escape. Next, the mold cavity is pressurized, thereby allowing the heated polymer to fill all spaces. Once the polymer has cooled, it’s removed from the mold cavity.

In Conclusion

Silicone rubber keypads are keypads featuring silicone rubber webbing. They are made using compression molding. Compression molding involves filling a mold cavity with heated polymer and then pressurizing it.