SiTECH offers our customers unprecedented flexibility in the design of our silicone molded keypads and components. Sometimes finding the best options for your design is challenging. Here are few tips that will help you come up with the best layout.
Functionality Over Form:
Molded keypads with slicker designs can help you make the initial sale, but if those slick designs end up being a nightmare to use, it will ultimately hurt your product’s overall image. Aesthetics matter, but your clients will remember ease of use long after the get over the look of the design.
Quality Over Quantity:
Here at SiTECH, we understand how cutting a few corners can reduce your costs and improve your profits. But if cutting those corners compromises the product’s overall quality, it will do more harm than good. Most overseas companies cut corners with there materials to lower the overall costs of their products. Doing this causes quality issues with the keypads aesthetic, and functionality. Dealing with a silicone manufacture who uses high quality materials will decrease the amounts quality issues that may arise down the line.
Consider Operator Comfort:
Molded silicone keypads that feel fine in short run prototype testing may not be as comfortable over long use. Equipment that is going to be used for extended periods of time, IE an entire shift, day after day, can lead to work-related injuries if not ergonomically designed properly. It is always important to think if long-term use is a factor in your silicone keypad or component design.
Find the Right Snap:
Here at SiTECH, we can vary the material and construction of our molded keypads to give different levels of stiffness to the keys. This is something called Force Curve, or snap ratio. This can be controlled at the keypad level, or at the PCB level. Many of our customers are moving to controlling this on the PCB level, because it gives more aesthetically pleasing options on the keypads design. No longer is it required to have key diaphragms, the tactile feel can be controlled using metal domes and tact switches, which provide accurate force curve profiles over a million+ keystrokes. This makes selecting the snap of your keypad much easier to decide.
Design Intuitive Controls:
The best controls don’t need a manual because it is obvious how to use them. While your equipment may not be able to reach that level of design, use some thought when laying out your molded keypads. Imagine if you had to push a joystick forward to make a vehicle go in reverse, and in reverse to go forward. It seems ridiculous but some controls are designed with exactly that type of non-intuitive layout.
Balancing the Amount of Buttons:
You don’t necessarily need a button for every function of your device. As molded keypads become more complex they are harder for your customers to figure out. Create a control that lets a single button perform many operations based on operating mode, or put functions in an on-screen menu users can navigate through. Then again having too few buttons can lead to frustration as well. Navigating menus takes longer than simply pushing a single control, and if users have to spend thirty seconds paging through menus every time they activate your device they will quickly become frustrated.
For all of your custom keypad or component needs, you can rely on the experience and expertise that SiTECH can offer. For more information about our custom silicone keypads, call our office at 757-887-8488.