If you’re looking to buy new keypads for a human machine interface or other input device, you might be wondering which materials is best. Silicone rubber and plastic are two of the most common materials in which keypads are made. And while they both offer a high level of functionality, there are some nuances between them that you should know. So, how do silicone rubber and plastic keypads differ, and which material is right for your business’s needs?
Before we begin, it’s important to note that silicone rubber is technically a type of plastic. It’s more or a less a plastic polymer that can be formed into virtually any shape. As a result, silicone rubber and plastic look similar in appearance. It’s not until you inspect them up close when you see the differences between these two materials.
Perhaps the biggest difference between silicone rubber and plastic keypads is that the former is softer than the latter. Silicone rubber has a soft, squishy texture, whereas plastic has a hard texture. They are both smooth, but silicone rubber is significantly softer than plastic. You can typically tell the difference between these two materials simply by feeling them for softness.
Because its softer, some engineers argue that silicone rubber keypads are more comfortable to use than plastic keypads. When a keypad is going to be used for hundreds of thousands of presses, comfort is a real concern that shouldn’t be overlooked. Thankfully, this is an area in which silicone rubber excels. The soft, sponge-like properties of this material allow for easy, comfortable key pressing
Both plastic and silicone rubber keypads are fully customizable. They can be molded or engraved, and they both support a variety of backlighting options. This allows for a new world of applications for engineers and business owners. Using either of these keypads allows for a deep level of customization. Alternatively, engineers and business owners can choose standard design options for their silicone rubber or plastic keypads.
Again, there’s little or no difference here: silicone rubber and plastic keypads are both strong and highly durable. This is because silicone rubber and plastic are essentially made of the same material. Therefore, silicone rubber and plastic keypads are able to resist the intrusion of moisture, dirt, dust and debris.
You really can’t go wrong with silicone rubber or plastic keypads. They are both strong, durable and customizable. However, silicone rubber keypads are softer and may provide a higher level of comfort.