Topics: rubber keypads
It’s hard to imagine a time when people were not using rubber keypads in their homes and businesses since they have become so ingrained in our culture today. Whereas old keypads were uniformly made from harder materials, silicone rubber has become the norm when applications require a softer, more versatile touch. Here are some of the basics of rubber keypad technology.
Rubber keypads have kept up with the times as a broader spectrum of technological advances has demanded it. Some of the most common applications for these types of keypads include remote controls of all kinds (including those for TVs as well as stereo equipment), electronic toys and games, and a host of industrial equipment controls. They are the material of choice in the medical industry and for communications equipment as well. Today’s rubber keypads must be strong enough to withstand near constant wear and tear while still retaining the tactile control that makes them so desirable.
The switch design for most rubber keypads is universal: what changes is the type of covering placed over the switch. Contact resistance can be customized depending on the application, but the general engineering is the same: the switch button is pressed onto a web system; the web’s setting will reflect the amount of resistance felt by the user and will impact the tactile response; the switch touches the PCB contacts below and the application is complete; the switch then returns to its neutral or resting position.
Rubber keypads are made from silicone materials that come in two basic forms: liquid and gum stock. The choice of which material is used to make the rubber keypads depends greatly on their future applications, of course. The more silicone in the product, the softer it feels; the less silicone contained therein, the more filler it contains and it will definitely feel harder. Not all keyboards are made from silicone, of course, and all kinds of rubber may be engineered to suit a wide variety of uses.
Some of the most popular types of keyboards include:
– Membrane touch switches, which are extremely thin and flexible.
– Chrome electroplated keypads which can be laser etched, great for high-end mobile phone applications.
– Injection molded keytops with a metallic finish that don’t look like rubber at all and can come in a wide variety of colors and styles.
– Polycarbonate key tops that can be used with either rubber or mechanical switches; these are essential for use in harsh conditions where normal rubber simply won’t hold up.
No matter what type of application, there is a rubber keypad technology that will fill the bill.
Top Bound USA (www.topboundusa.com) offers custom keypads including molded, silicone, plastic, rubber keypads and conductive keypads, metal dome switches, keyboards, and elastomeric connectors. Art Gib is a freelance writer.
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