Multi-color silicone rubber keypad designed, engineered, and manufactured for Bayer Healthcare

Keypads are used in a wide range of commercial and consumer applications. They essentially contain one or more electrical switches. When you press a key, the underlying circuit will close. When you release a key, the circuit will revert back to its open position. If you’re thinking about buying a new keypad for your business, though, you might be wondering what benefits laser etching offers.

What Is Laser Etching?

Laser etching is a finishing process that involves the use of a high-powered laser to selectively remove paint from the uppermost layer of a keypad. Nearly all keypads are designed with a painted top layer. When a keypad is laser etched, it’s exposed to a laser that burns away some of the paint from this top layer.

Not all of the paint is burned away during laser etching. Rather, only specific areas of the paint is removed. By selectively removing areas of the paint from the keypad’s top layer, the underlying backlighting becomes visible. Whether a keypad uses light-emitting diode (LED) or electroluminescent (EL) backlighting, laser etching allows the backlighting to show through the top layer where the paint has been removed.

Easier to Use in Low-Light Conditions

You may discover that laser-etched keypads are easier to use in low-light conditions than their non-laser-etched counterparts. Backlighting alone offers little or no improvement in terms of visibility. If the top layer of a keypad is completely painted, the backlighting won’t show through. A simple solution, however, is laser etching.

Laser etching removes some of the paint from the keypad’s top layer. As a result, the backlighting under the laser-etched areas of the keypad will become illuminated. In dark environments with little or no light, laser-etched keypads are easy to use.

Multiple Color Options

Laser etching can be used to create a multitude of different colors. So, how does the removal of paint from the keypad’s top layer create colors exactly? Laser etching itself doesn’t create colors. Rather, it’s used to reveal the colored light from the underlying backlighting.

A laser-etched keypad, for instance, can be designed with red backlighting to achieve a red color. As the red backlighting beams through the top layer, it creates red-colored illumination. Of course, backlighting is available in many other colors besides red.

Increased Input Accuracy

Laser-etched keypads offer increased input accuracy. The backlighting will show through the laser-etched areas of the keypad’s top layer. Therefore, you are less likely to press the wrong key when using them.