Not all keypads are designed with a hard plastic shell. Some are made of silicone rubber. Also known as elastomeric keypads, silicone rubber keypads have become increasingly popular in recent years. You’ll find them in a variety of switching applications, including TVs, remote controls, video game consoles, kids’ toys, human machine interfaces (HMIs) and more. Unless you’re familiar with electrical switching technology, though, you might be wondering what is a silicone rubber keypad.

The Basics of Silicone Rubber Keypads

A silicone rubber keypad is a keypad solution for electrical switches that’s characterized by the use of silicone rubber material. This is important because silicone rubber, as you may know, is soft and flexible. When you press down on the material, it deforms before reverting back to its original shape. Using these properties, silicone rubber keypads offer an attractive alternative to traditional keypad solutions.

While there are different ways to produce a silicone rubber keypad, most share some common design characteristics. The top of the keypad features a switch button made of silicone rubber. Below this button is a space later, followed by an electrical contact. Pressing the silicone rubber keypad causes the underlying electrical contact on the button to touch the electrical contact below the button. As the two contacts touch, it creates a circuit, thereby telling the device to which it’s connected that a key press occurred.

Why Choose Silicone Rubber Keypads

With its soft, flexible design, silicone rubber keypads offer several benefits that shouldn’t be ignored. First, it produces a natural tactile response so that you know when your key press was registered. Pressing down on a silicone rubber keypad causes the keypad to “cave in.” When you release your finger, the keypad “pops” back to its original shape and position. This tactile feedback is essential to creating a positive user experience while minimizing the risk of user error in the process.

Silicone rubber keypads also support a variety of shapes and sizes. According to Wikipedia, this is partly because silicone rubber keypads accommodate key travel up to 3 mm. Therefore, businesses can use this keypad solution in industrial control systems, HMIs and other device interfaces.

Silicone rubber keypads even support laser etching. This process involves the use of a controlled laser to selectively remove the top layer of paint, thereby revealing new colors and designs. It’s the perfect way to customize a unique design for a silicone rubber keypad.