When designing your silicone rubber component or keypad, it is important to consider the look of your product. Many products require the need of backlit keypads or light pipes for indicators. These products are made using a translucent silicone that allows the light to pass through it like similar to glass. Technological advancements in the silicone pigment industry has allowed us to begin coloring our translucent silicone. This creates the challenge of how to accurately measure the color of a translucent part, which can change color due to a variety of reasons. These reasons include: surface finish, thickness of the part, and the way the part is measured.
The reason surface finish affects the final outcome of a translucent color is simple. Different surface finishes have varying effects on the amount of light the part will allow through it. Here at SiTech we use various surface finishes for desired results. We have the capability to make translucent silicone, as clear as see through glass to allow for display units to be mounted behind. The clearer the silicone is on the surface, the more light will be able to pass through. This in turn allows the part to become brighter. However, if you were to texture the surface enough so that it became unable to see through, light would still be able to pass through. The amount of light would drastically be cut, but it would still illuminate the top of the part.
The thickness of the part plays a large roll in what the end color will be. The thinner the part, the more pigment will be needed to achieve a color. The reason this is, is due to the amount of travel the part requires for light to pass through it. When SiTech is matching a translucent color, we create our color chips to the thickness of your part. This ensures that the part will be the same color as the color chip.
At SiTech, we measure our translucent color chips with a couple of different devices. The first device we use is a Photo Radiometer, which simply measures the luminance of the part. The second device we use is a Spectrophotometer, which is used for measuring the wavelength of color of a part. There are a couple different methods to controlling the color of a translucent part. The first is to specify the amount of pigment per amount of silicone. The second would be to provide a color chip and have us match it. Lastly, you could control the wavelength of color of the part. It is also important to use the same light source and lighting conditions when measuring the color chips. Changes in the lighting environment can drastically alter the readings devices give and can either make a good color chip bad, or a bad color chip good.
When designing custom colors into your products or replicating colors already in use, SiTech’s highly trained color technicians can produce a wide array of color options with high precision and accuracy to fit almost any need. The colors can be made into pigment for use with our advanced silicone injection molding. They are also made into inks which we use to print a multitude of designs onto silicone rubber to meet your product needs. We also employ the latest in color detection and matching technology to provide you with the highest quality and repeatable results for the life of your product. You can rely on the experience and reputation that SiTech has to offer for all of your custom silicone molding production and custom color needs.