Silicone Rubber vs. Mechanical Keypads: Which One to Choose

When it comes to keypads, there are two main types: silicone rubber keypads and mechanical keypads. Both have their own unique benefits and drawbacks, so which one should you choose for your project? In this blog post, we'll take a look at both types of keypads and help you decide which is the best option for you.

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What is a Silicone Rubber Keypad?

silicone rubber keypad

A silicone rubber keypad is a flexible keyboard option for various devices. Made from webbing materials characterized by webbing materials. These materials are made from silicone rubber at the center switch. Another name for a silicone rubber keypad is an elastomeric keypad. Each key in the silicone keypad has rubber webbing around the switch.

These rubber keypads are used for different devices, both electrical and consumer or retail products. They have become a favorite because of their affordability. This technology uses the compact molding features found in silicone rubber. Thanks to the elasticity, the silicone rubber webbing creates a deformed shape on the key when you press it.

The base of the key then touches the top of the Printed Circuit Board (PCB). The key takes its original shape upon release. You’ll find keycaps in some silicone rubber keypads. These keycaps alter the physical and tactile sensation of the keyboard and boost its lustiness. If not, the silicone rubber acts as the optical element and the buttons, respectively.

What Is a Mechanical Keypad?

Mechanical Keypad

A mechanical keypad is best defined by its features. It is a keypad made from the finest (typically) spring-triggered key switches. There are different types of critical controls for this keypad according to its preferred application or based on the user. Mechanical keypads can be defined as physical keyboards with spring-based key switches.

The quality of using mechanized switches with springs is the primary defining factor for mechanical keypads. This keypad was one of the most widely embraced keyboards in devices like IBM’s Model M of the 1980s.

Mechanical keypads differ from other keypads because they are made up of switches beneath the keys. These switches consist of different locomotive parts. It has a strong plastic ‘stem’ composed of two metal connections and springs beneath it.

When you press a key, the stem compresses the spring such that both metal contacts connect. Therefore, your keypress is registered to the keyboard and device’s circuitry.

Benefits of Silicone Rubber Keypads

Are you struggling to come to terms with the best keypad for your design? Silicone rubber keypads have become a favorite in recent times for many reasons. When taken lightly, Keypad types may call for concern, like other device parts.

Choosing a suitable keypad is worth so much as keypads vary in cost, durability, resistance, etc. For these reasons, you are better off taking quality time to choose the right keypad for your engineering design.

Whatever your project may be: a retail product, a hospital, a plant, etc., you can ensure that silicone rubber keys are very durable. However, why should you choose silicone keypads? Here are some benefits:

Waterproof and dustproof

dust and water are some of the greatest adversaries of every electronic product. Silicone rubber keypads eliminate the need to worry about dust and moisture. These keypads are water and dust-resistant, so both elements cannot possibly find their way into the device. This is good news for companies that create devices for commercial use.

Comfort

Although durability is one of the most attractive features of a keypad or any device, comfortability is arguably the most vital selling point for keypads. Regarding keypads, comfortability has to do with how smooth and flexible it is and how soothing it is to the touch. Thanks to its cushiony quality, a silicone rubber keypad’s comfortability is a no-brainer. Little wonder it is a favorite choice for engineers and manufacturers.

Affordable

silicone rubber keypads are quite affordable per piece. However, they require pretty expensive tools. Hence they are best suited for complex projects.

Backlighting

you’ll find different backlighting options for these keypads. However, a Light-emitting Diode (LED) is the most common choice because of its efficiency, durability, and illumination range. You may decide to improve the LED backlighting of this keyboard with the aid of light guides. These light guides will aid the even distribution of light from the LEDs, eliminating too bright or dark parts.

Resistant to aging and extreme temperatures

silicone rubber keypads’ outdoor weather accommodative quality is impressive. Since they are resistant to moisture, you don’t have to worry about thunderstorms. They are also chemical resistant, so most of your worries are taken care of.

Tactile feedback

One of the less popular benefits of silicone rubber keypads. Merely changing its webbing design is typically enough to give subtle tactile feedback. Even though it doesn’t produce solid tactile feedback compared to that produced by vibration, that which is produced by this keypad is tactile feedback regardless.

Tactile feedback, in this case, allows users to know that their feedback has been registered, hence eliminating the chance of double or accidental entries.

Benefits of Silicone Mechanical Keypads

Silicone Mechanical Keypads

Although many people/devices no longer use mechanical keypads, it remains one of the most convenient keyboards. Mechanical keyboards have a lot of great features that we cannot ignore. To teach you more about this keypad, here are some great benefits of using automatic keypads:

High Stability

Thanks to their weight, mechanical keypads stay firm on the desk as they are relatively heavier than the membrane keyboard. It doesn’t wobble on the desk even when you type faster for an extended period.

Although people tend to ignore this stability, it is an important feature that aids comfortability. Your keypad must settle firmly on the desk to allow you to work without stress. Mechanical keypads can withstand more weight while in use. It is less likely to move from the desk even if you type roughly.

Feels better to type on

Once you get used to using a mechanical keypad, you may never want to use other cheaper options again. Unlike membrane keyboards, automatic keypads feel pretty mushy. One of the significant benefits of individual switches is that it is easy to know when you press the right key.

With this, you can quickly identify accidental key presses. The solid materials of the keypad don’t make it hard to type on, so your finger wouldn’t ache even after long hours of typing.

Long-lasting

Mechanical keypads have a longer lifespan than membrane keyboards. By design, mechanical switches allow for 30 to 80 million key presses. However, there are different keystroke limits for different switches. Some could qualify for up to 100 million key presses.

This is an edge over many other keypads. Membrane keypads, for instance, allow for about five million key presses. Mechanical switches also have better build quality, making them more desirable for anyone looking for longevity.

Durability

The mechanical keypad is arguably one of the most durable keypads. The materials from which it is made make it more durable. The keys and cases that house the keyboard are made from high-quality materials. Little wonder why its keys can withstand up to 30 million key presses.

A perfect choice for gamers

Mechanical keyboards are sturdy and don’t become rigid even when you press too hard. Gamers are known for typing hard and fast when immersed in playing some games. They also like the sound of key presses, which adds more thrill to their gaming experience.

The keypress sound always provides strong feedback, so it’s a win-win. The anti-ghosting feature of this keypad also makes it a desirable choice. You can press up to eight keys at once without the risk of destroying them.

Less prone to wear-outs

The fact that mechanical keypads are less prone to physical damage adds to their durability. The keys do not only last longer. They do not quickly wear out. After several years of typing on this keypad, it still feels like it was when you first used it. The keys don’t get cluttered or stuck.

Common Uses for Silicone Rubber Keypads and Mechanical Keypads

Silicone Rubber KeypadsMechanical Keypads
Electronic devices: silicone rubber keyboards are also used in household appliances, mobile devices, computer keyboards, games, etc.Mechanical keyboards are majorly used for computers. Their speed, durability, and tactile sensation make them perfect for computer manufacturers.
Industrial use: manufacturers of industrial machines opt for silicone rubber keypads because of their durability for outdoor use and many other reasons.
Rubber keypads can withstand harsh weather, so manufacturers opt for them for industrial use.
Mechanical keyboards are built to last and are a good fit for industrial use. They are popular in HMI (Human Machine Interface) terminals, medical carts, etc.
They are used in high-risk areas to resist scratch, shock, and heat because they are designed to withstand extreme conditions.
Remote controls: silicone rubber keypads are used in remote controls for stereo systems, televisions, etc. The silicone rubber webbing makes it a practical and comfortable means of input.Mechanical keyboards are also used in point-of-sale machines in shops and supermarkets. You will also find mechanical keyboards in music, radio, and TV studios.

Conclusion

Silicone rubber keypads and mechanical keypads each have their own unique advantages and disadvantages. Silicone rubber keypads are durable, weather-resistant, and provide excellent anti-slip properties, making them suitable for outdoor use. On the other hand, mechanical keypads offer a more responsive, tactile feel and longer lifespan when compared to silicone rubber keypads.

Ultimately, the choice of keypads will depend on the specific requirements of your application, such as the environment it will be used in and user preference. It’s essential to perform a thorough cost-performance analysis and consult with a reliable silicone rubber manufacturer or distributor to determine the most suitable keypad for your needs and make an informed decision.

Get Top-Of-The-Line Products From Hongju

If you are still unsure which keypad is best for your needs, please do not hesitate to contact us. We would be happy to discuss your project and help you choose the perfect keypad for your application.

Hongju has been one of China’s leading custom silicone rubber products manufacturers since 1999. We mainly produce silicone rubber keypads, custom O-rings, rubber gaskets, grommets, etc. With years of experience at hand, we can assure nothing but premium class to you.

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david

Hey there, I’m David!

I’m the founder of Hongju Silicone. I have been in this field for more than two decades. If you are looking for custom-made silicone rubber products, feel free to ask me any questions.

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