If you’re looking to buy a new keypad for your business, you’ll probably come across silicone rubber keypads. While they’ve been around decades, silicone rubber keypads have become increasingly popular in recent years. Today, you’ll see them used in countless industries, some of which include healthcare, retail, manufacturing and even aerospace. But unless you’re familiar with silicone rubber keypads, you might be wondering how they work and why they’ve become so popular.

What Is a Silicone Rubber Keypad?

A silicone rubber keypad, also known as an elastomeric keypad, is a type of keypad that’s designed using webbing material consisting of silicone rubber around a center switch. Each key, for example, features silicone rubber webbing around a switch. When you press a key, the elastic properties of the silicone rubber webbing allows it to deform, resulting in the bottom of the key touching the top of a printed circuit board (PCB) contact.

The Mechanics of Silicone Rubber Keypads

While different silicone rubber keypads are designed in different ways, most feature a similar construction. The switch button is located on top, and underneath the button is a conductive contact, typically made of carbon or gold. Below the conductive contact is the PCB contact that’s separated with air. Of course, there’s also the silicone rubber webbing itself that’s found between the button and PCB contact, essentially forming a bubble around the exterior.

Pressing a button on a silicone rubber keypad forces the webbing material to deform, at which point the switch’s conductive contact touches the PCB contact. When this occurs, the silicone rubber keypad identifies and registers this action as a button press.

Is a Silicone Rubber Keypad the Right Choice for My Business?

You can’t go wrong with a silicone rubber keypad for several reasons. First, it creates natural tactile feedback thanks to the silicone rubber webbing material. Pressing a button on a silicone rubber keypad causes the webbing material to deform. And when you release the button, it “pops” back up, thereby producing tactile feedback.

Second, silicone rubber keypads are suitable for use in harsh and extreme environments. With other keypads, the ingress of moisture can damage the circuitry. But silicone rubber is completely waterproof, meaning moisture can’t make its way to the PCB or other circuitry.

Third, silicone rubber keypads support multiple backlighting options, including electroluminescent (EL), light-emitting diode (LED) and even laser engraving. Laser engraving technically isn’t a backlighting option. Rather, it works in conjunction with a backlight to help illuminate the legends.