What are Silicone Rubber Keypads and How They Work?

You've likely interacted with a silicone rubber keypad if you've ever used remote controls, video and HIFI units, electronic toys and games, or other electronic devices. But what are they, and how do they work? In this blog post, we'll take a look at the basics of silicone rubber keypads and some of their benefits. Keep reading to learn more!

Table of Contents

What are Silicone Rubber Keypads?

A silicone rubber keypad is an electrical switch made of soft silicone rubber. It has a webbing feature that’s naturally upright in form. When you press the rubber down, the webbing deforms. It allows a conductive-coated pill to contact a PCB or printed circuit board underneath it. This completes the circuit to make electronic devices function.

silicone rubber keypads
silicone rubber keypads

How Does a Silicone Rubber Keypad Work?

The primary function of a silicone rubber keypad is to help deliver electronic impulses to a device so it functions accordingly. To understand how it happens, you need to know the basic design of a silicone key.

Basic Design of Silicone Keypad Switch

A silicone keypad has four main parts.

The first part is the Switch button. This is the most visible part of the keypad. It’s what the user typically touches. This is the one that’s made of silicone rubber. The material is perfect because it’s very soft, flexible, and durable. These qualities are essential since this part of the keypad switch is constantly touched. This part can come in multiple designs, colors, and shapes. The specific structure of the Switch is usually compression-molded.

The second part is the Carbon pill (or sometimes the gold pill). This serves as the switch contact. When the user presses the Switch button, this part will contact the next part of the keypad.

The third part is the PCB Contacts. A PCB or printed circuit board is a plate with different elements, like an electrical circuit. These have copper tracks that interconnect the other components together.

The fourth part is the Web. This is like a stand that supports the Switch button and keeps it away from the PCB Contact. The natural state of this part is upright.

How do These Four Parts Work Together?

silicone keypad

When the user presses the Switch button, the Web moves to let the Carbon pill touch the PCB Contact underneath the button. This, upon contact, that’s when the electrical circuit becomes complete. This is what allows the delivery of electric impulses.

So if you consider a keyboard as an example, if the user presses down on the letter “P,” the Carbon pill will touch the PCB Contact beneath it. When the electrical circuit is complete, it’ll prompt the computer to make the “P” appear on the screen.

What are the Benefits of Using Silicone Rubber Keypads?

Four main reasons a silicone rubber material is perfect for keypads.

They are Reliable.

silicone rubber keypads

In general, rubber keypads have incredible resistance to aging and extreme temperature. But silicone material, in particular, remains thermally stable with temperature ranges of -100°C to 250 °C. They can even be ideal as electrical insulators.

Silicone is also very resistant to chemicals and is non-corrosive. That also means it’s not toxic to the touch.

Not only that, silicone rubber is resistant to UV light and moisture. This means everything underneath the keypad will have protection from condensation building up. That includes the circuit of the device.

Of course, the protection will depend on the design of the keypads. But still, the keypad’s barrier makes the device safe for use outdoors.

What’s excellent about silicone materials is that they provide a great tactile feel. It’s soft and quite pleasant to the touch. It’s not sticky to the touch.

They are Durable.

silicone rubber keypads

Durability is a critical feature for keypads. Because you touch keypads several times, think about the keypads of mobile devices. Or the keyboard of computers and laptops. How many times do people connect these keypads and keyboards? Multiple times.

This is why having a highly durable keypad is very important.

That’s what a silicone rubber material can provide. This makes it perfect for both commercial and industrial uses.

Because of how we use it, the keypad should also be dust-proof. Why? Because dust can settle on electronic devices, too. This can cause the device to overheat or slow down.

Fortunately, there are silicone rubber materials that have this feature. It helps increase the lifespan of the keypad even further.

They are Cost-efficient.

Manufacturing silicone rubber keypads are very cost-effective. That’s because the tools used are cheaper than the injection molding tooling needed for other materials.

Because of this, silicone rubber is the typical choice regarding high-volume requirements for keypads.

The silicone rubber material is durable, making it even more cost-efficient. The need to replace it isn’t likely to happen frequently.

They are Flexible.

silicone rubber keypads

What makes silicone rubber keypads incredibly beneficial is that they offer many options. This is both for aesthetic and cosmetic purposes. This isn’t just for the visual appeal. It’s also for the functionality of the keypad.

For instance, silicone rubber keypads can have a design that allows superior tactile capabilities. It all lies in the creation of the webbing. The silicone rubber itself can have varying levels of hardness to the touch.

Regarding the other parts like the carbon pills, etc., you can easily incorporate these into the keypad because of the flexible nature of the silicone.

Of course, the best part about this flexibility is in the design. You can have a specific aesthetic no matter what shape, color, or size you want for the keypad. You can make it blend well with the overall design of the electronic device you want to use.

You can even use screen printing on the surface of the silicone rubber to add to the design of the keypad.

Applications of Silicone Rubber Keypads

Silicone Rubber Keypads

Everyone likely has a silicone rubber keypad with them in today’s world. You can find these in remote controls for various electronic devices like TVs and stereo systems. The silicon rubber makes the soft feel very pleasant to the touch.

The average household will also find these silicone rubber keypads in smartphones, appliances, equipment, and even video games.

Silicone rubber keypads are also very useful across multiple industries.

These can even be useful for industrial, banking, transport, retail, schools, and construction settings. Because of the very nature of the silicone material, it can also be beneficial in sensitive industries like the military, aerospace, defense, and the government.

Standard Devices that Use Silicone Rubber Keypads

Apart from those that you can find in a household, what are the other applications for silicone rubber keypads?

Since silicone rubber is UV light resistant, it becomes perfect for medical devices. Specifically, the machines that use ultraviolet light to either make a diagnosis or provide treatment.

Silicone Rubber Keypads

The non-toxic quality of these silicone rubber materials makes them great for smartphones, children’s toys, and other consumer electronic devices. Screen print on silicone rubber allows manufacturers to create colorful electronic toys. These can visually appeal to the imaginative minds of young kids.

The durability and reliability of this material make it great for anything under heavy use. These include machinery and equipment controls for high-production purposes. It can also have computers for business, office, and industrial use.

Apart from these examples, these silicone rubber keypads are highly useful for the following as well:

  • Electronic test instruments
  • Security monitoring devices
  • Handheld terminals
  • Various communications equipment

These silicone rubber keypads are also perfect for industrial and manufacturing places because they are resistant to low temperatures. The material can function well, whether it is for outdoor or indoor use. It can add an extra layer of protection to any device against the weather, dust, or other corrosive elements.

Since this is also a low-cost material, it makes any equipment cost-efficient.

Silicone Rubber Keypads Manufactured to Your Design Specifications

While silicone rubber keypads are beneficial, it’s still important to choose the proper manufacturer to do it for you. The quality of the keypad will only be as good as the raw materials it uses and the production process it goes through.

If you have to trust a manufacturer, choose the one with a consistent reputation for quality and professionalism.

Hongju has been a custom silicone rubber keypad manufacturer in China since 1999. The decades of experience in the industry are responsible for shaping how the company operates today. They are highly innovative – precisely how they produce sustainable custom silicone rubber products.

If you have a silicone keypad design in mind, the experts will gladly help make that design a reality. You will not just get top-notch products. You’ll also get impeccable customer support with considerate service. You’ll find the whole process to be smooth-flowing and stress-free.

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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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