When you’re creating a new keypad design for your product, there are many things to consider, including the form and function of the keys. For example, you know what the rubber keypads are designed to do, but is it obvious to the user? There are a number of ways to find out whether the person using your new product will use it in the way you intended. In some of the early stages of product design, the best way to make critical decisions on silicone rubber keypad usefulness is to create a layout that not only looks nice, but is easy to use, labeled well and is ergonomically comfortable for long-term service.

Placement
When it comes to liquid silicone injection molding and rubber keypads, placement is important. The most important functions should be in prominent positions. If buttons cannot be seen, then the question becomes are they needed or should they be moved. Other issues might include whether they are easy to reach or if other objects are in the way.

Labeling
The labeling process is critical in the form and function of every liquid silicone injection molding keypad. The labeling should be easy to read or see and understand. It should convey the key’s purpose to the user at a glance. If it doesn’t, the key may be misunderstood and misused or overlooked.

Rapid Prototype Creation
One way to see how the rubber molding design works in reality as compared to the imagination is to create a rapid prototype. Rapid prototyping transforms your design from a drawing on paper to a visual and tangible product in just a few weeks. While the actual prototype cannot be used in lieu of the actual product, it is at least 95 percent in the likeness of the final product. This is effective for some types of tests and in presenting ideas to potential users and investors.

Testing
The best way to find out if something works to is test it. While rubber keypads might look good to the designer, users may have a different idea of how to operate the controls or may misunderstand their operation. For example, in military rubber keypad controls, the designer might imagine a key as causing a part of the product to activate. The user might consider it a key to stop moving the part. Changing the design, color or labeling can affect the messages sent to the user. Oftentimes, this is only recognizable through testing. Other form and function issues might include stiffness levels of the liquid silicone injection molding or having the purpose to two keys too similar for the user to distinguish.

If you are working on the design for a product with rubber keypads, SiTECH’s engineers may be able to offer some insight. We can also create a rapid prototype. Contact our office for details.