When creating a new product or upgrading an existing model, the visual properties of pushbutton keys can make a difference. Using custom silicone rubber keypads offers a range of features that aren’t possible with plastic or other materials. One of the most visually appealing and functional facets is backlighting. Individual keys or groups are lit when they have power or when they are depressed. When working on a product design, consider some of these features when deciding whether or not to use backlit or regular silicone rubber keypads.

In the Dark

One of the advantages to using backlit rubber keypads is that they’re visible in dark environments. Just how dark the environment is can make the difference between being able to see what you’re doing and having a disaster if you don’t have backlighting. For example, if your users can’t see the keys, their only chance to know where they are is by touching them and perhaps pushing them in trial and error. Sometimes a button’s function can be deciphered by key location or by a unique shape. When a button’s function is important, you don’t want your users making a mistake. Backlighting provides clear identification of the buttons and their locations to prevent stroking the wrong button.

In Daylight

Backlit rubber keypads still serve an important purpose in daylight and well-lit rooms. One main feature of backlit rubber keypads under any lighting conditions is that they light up or blink when depressed. This tells users that the function is in play, a plus with silent operations and a signal that the power is on and working. When entering alphanumeric information, a blink or illumination lets the user know whether or not a button has been pushed.


Backlighting also offers a certain “wow” factor. A more visually appealing product captures attention better and can give one product the edge over another. If the simplicity of black and white or dark and light isn’t enough, consider using different colors in backlighting. Keys that light up in different colors enhance the user experience.

Why Use a Prototype?

Using a silicone rubber prototype is helpful when designing a new product that has backlit rubber keypads. It’s one way to be sure that you are ready for the manufacturing process. While similar to the final product, silicone rubber rapid prototypes aren’t a substitute for standard silicone injection molding due to the type and quality of the prototype-grade materials and process. Rapid prototypes are used to simulate the space and design features while taking a fraction of the production time. They make a good sample piece without going through the entire production process from start to finish. When using backlighting in the design, rapid prototyping gives a good example of how well the shapes, colors and graphics will turn out in the final product.

To learn more about how backlit rubber keypads can enhance your next design project, contact SiTECH at 757-887-8488.