Vending machines have changed drastically in the past few years and technology is bringing them far beyond dispensing snacks and sodas on demand. Today’s kiosks are selling and distributing everything from food to parking spaces to sunglasses. By taking the time to design user-friendly rubber keypads and molded silicone rubber components into the product dispensers, today’s inventors will be more successful in selling their products and innovations.

Making Choices
Using rubber keypads for hi-tech vending machines allows the customer to make choices based on what’s available and what they prefer. A smart design shows customers what their choices are and offers quick and easy selection keys.

Buyers no longer stick a coin into a slot and turn the handle to retrieve what they want. Today’s vending machines offer dozens of choices for free or allow the patron to pay by credit or cash. The technology of sophisticated printed circuit boards makes nearly anything possible. Self-pay kiosks are close behind the vending machine, also offering keypad selections for payment options. Inventors and designers should choose a layout that makes it easy to select payment types and amounts. Numerical rubber keypads are one option, while different keypad shapes and colors for various functions are another.

Backlit rubber keypads can be used to help customers find the right selections. Other visibility elements to improve customer service include clear windows, insert molding of colored keys and light pipes. Use of silicone inks changes the color of the molded silicone rubber during the manufacturing process, which is more visible and durable than painting the outer surface as is done with some plastic and other molding processes.

When planning a new design for a vending machine, the amount of traffic is an important factor. Using a durable product, such as molded silicone rubber, makes the machine function longer and under less hospitable conditions. The rubber keypads need to be durable enough to handle a crowd of people who are potentially careless or aggressive towards vending machines. Custom surface finishes improve durability and can prevent premature wear from high traffic.

Design Ideas
When creating a new vending machine or kiosk design to sell or distribute a new product, the technical details for functionality can sometimes get in the way. Consulting engineers from the silicone keypad manufacturer can help to improve layout, function and durability with items like graphics criteria and mechanical tolerances.

The ability to sell products through the use of vending machines and kiosks has opened up a whole new way to reach customers. Finding an effective method to package new items and services is the complex part. Putting together a custom rubber keypad display to distribute them can be the easy part when it’s done right.