There are two basic keypad designs. In today’s custom silicone molding blog, we will cover shapes and design differences in both types of keypads.
The first keypad manufacture design is tactile with a .06-inch travel. The second type has no tactile, but movement with less than .03-inch travel. Saying that, there are a multitude of variations of both types which could be included in a rubber keypad design.
In the past, rubber keypads were synonymous with low-cost switching and inexpensive products. Moving forward in time, the rubber keypad has developed into a designer’s choice. It offers flexibility in shape, endless color combinations, graphics galore and varied choices on switching.
The most common keypad is one that has tactile response. The shape has a square top and a diaphragm going to the mat. The diaphragm gives a tactile response when pushed.
This is called actuation force. As you can see in the diagram, a force curve chart gives a ratio of force to return force. These can be changed by modifying the angle and thickness of the diaphragm. These types of rubber keypads are most common in TV remote controls.
I don’t want to make light of this type of design, because it has been perfected to the point that all keyboards for PCs and laptops have a rubber tactile mat that gives you the feel of a mechanical device with each push of a button.
Engineers and designers have taken custom keypads to another level with shapes, colors and graphics, from text copy to images that direct or explain what to do with specific keys. All of this has been accomplished with custom silicone molding and silicone inks. Some of the most obvious examples are multicolor rubber keypads and different color copy, designating each key function along with product identification and company names.
A lot of designs incorporate a complete front panel with custom keypads included. These designs offer sealing of front cases and cleaning advantages, along with more area to designate function keys and highlight areas for quickness and ease of operation.
I have chosen to show pictures of different parts’ shapes. It seems that pictures speak more and are less confusing. Shapes are pusher, convex, concave, flat key, tactile diaphragm, integral diaphragm, ribbed and rocker. I think you are getting the idea. Shapes can be whatever your imagination wants them to be. I did leave out raised and recessed copy or images in the tops of keys. We can discuss those another time in a blog post about custom silicone molding.