From TV and stereo remote controls to microwaves and manufacturing control systems, silicone rubber keypads are used in a variety of applications. Also known as elastomeric keypads, they offer an effective and affordable switching solution. While most people have seen or used a silicone rubber keypad, though, many are unfamiliar with their construction. In this post, you’ll learn more about silicone rubber keypads and how they are made.
The Basic Construction of Silicone Rubber Keypads
Silicone rubber keypads receive their name from the material of their webbing. As the name suggests, they feature webbing made of silicone rubber. While other keypads are made of hard plastic, these are made of silicone rubber.
A typical silicone rubber keypad features a raised switch with silicone rubber webbing. At the top of the keypad is the switch button. Underneath this button is a conductive gold or carbon pill. When you press the button, the conductive gold or carbon pill make contact with a printed circuit board (PCB), thereby completing the circuit and triggering the appropriate command. The webbing material used to separate the conductive gold or carbon pull from the PCB is made of silicone rubber, which is the reason these switches are known as silicone rubber keypads.
What Is Silicone Rubber?
The defining characteristic of silicone rubber keypads is the use of silicone rubber wedding. But what exactly is silicone rubber? Basically, silicone rubber is a type of rubber-like material that’s comprised primarily of silicone.
In its natural state, silicone rubber has the consistency of liquid gel. To make is solid, manufacturing companies must cure it. This generally consists of a two-step process. First, the silicone rubber is poured into a mold. Second, it’s curd using heat and/or pressure. When finished, the silicone rubber turns from liquid to a solid state.
The Performance of Silicone Rubber Keypads
Silicone rubber keypads are popular because of their ability to resist environmental-related degradation. When exposed to extreme temperatures, silicone rubber keypads won’t sustain damage. In fact, silicone rubber — the material from which the webbing is made — is capable of enduring temperatures ranging from minus 67 degrees to 572 degrees Fahrenheit.
Furthermore, silicone rubber keypads are resistant to water and moisture damage. While exposure to water or moisture will damage the circuitry of other keypads, this isn’t a problem with silicone rubber keypads. As a result, silicone rubber keypads are often used in outdoor applications where traditional keypads aren’t possible.