Rubber Keypad Technology: For More Than Just Calculators
SSI Electronics’ rubber keypads have been used for years as a reliable interface for a number of consumer products, such as calculators and remote controls. This compression-molded elastomer keypad option can be made to mimic the full-travel feel of a mechanical keypad, and the technology’s inherent features provide many advantages over similar injection-molded keypads. Most notably, rubber keypads act as a highly-effective moisture barrier to protect sensitive electronic components.
This technology has enjoyed a recent surge in popularity, as rubber keypads can now be married with flexible circuits using pressure sensitive adhesives, which eliminates the need for bulky mechanical fasteners. In short, there are more opportunities than ever to employ versatile, cost-effective rubber keypads into your human-machine-interface.
4 Advantages of Rubber Keypads
1) Perceived higher value
Because a rubber keypad offers the 3 dimensional profile of a mechanical switch, it is typically perceived as a higher-end product. Unique decorative options, such as key caps and epoxy coating, can further enhance the look of rubber keypads.
2) User friendly interface
Due to the flexible nature of rubber and the unique shapes for which it can be molded, a superior actuation feel can be achieved with silicone rubber keypads. This is particularly true for keypad configurations requiring tight clusters of keys. “Bosses” can be molded on the underside of the rubber keypad to interface with very small metal domes to provide an exceptional tactile response.
3) Allows for unique backlighting options
Non-tinted silicone rubber makes an excellent diffuser of light. By integrating laser etching and SMT LEDs on a circuit layer, a rubber keypad can easily be backlit with a single LED.
4) Lower tooling cost compared to injection molding
The compression molding process used to create SSI’s rubber keypads utilizes tooling that costs far less than the tooling used in injection molding. Typical production tool cost for a rubber keypad is between $2,000 and $5,000. Additionally, we offer prototype tooling options that often cost less than $1,500.
Choosing Hybrid Keypads as an Alternative to Rubber Keypads
For those who like the look and feel of a rubber keypad but have an application requiring more design flexibility, our hybrid keypads could be the perfect solution. Hybrid keypads from SSI Electronics provide the same reliability and moisture- and impact-resistance as our rubber keypads while providing an enhanced look and feel. Our hybrid keypads also have an added benefit of a fully customizable tail and the ability to place your PCBA wherever you’d like.