Benefits of elastomer keypads

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By Rudy Vital | Oct 14, 2019
A photo of an elastomer keypad

On any user interface, the keypad is often the first element that a user interacts with. Great user experience is paramount to a great product and it all starts with customizing your keypad so that it looks, feels and behaves the right way. When it comes to customization, almost no other keypad can provide as many options as elastomer keypads. Made from a flexible polymer, elastomer keypads are a reliable and durable choice for a wide range of industries and applications.

The tactile response, appearance, and construction of the keypad can be effectively tailored to fit your exact product specifications. Elastomer keypads offer the following benefits:

  1. Tactile feedback: Tactile feedback is one of the most important considerations for any switch construction. With elastomer keypads, the actuation force required to press a key can be tailored between 100g to 300g of force. The keys can also be configured to make an audible snap sound via an inserted metal dome to provide instant feedback to the user. In addition, each key can be assigned to varying levels of hardness or resistance to indentation.

  2. Look: The visual appearance is yet another crucial element for any keypad. While elastomer arrives as an off-white color, there is a wide array of color options available to choose from during the molding process. Colored text, symbols, or iconography can be printed via pad or screen printing. There are a variety of finishes available, such as a silicone or polyurethane coating, to help alter the feel and protect the printed graphics from wearing off after repeated use or from cleaning solutions.

  3. Selective backlighting: Elastomer keypads can be backlit over the entire surface or specific areas can be laser etched to allow for selective backlighting. To backlight an entire button on an elastomer keypad, the base of the button can be molded with translucent material, allowing a direct LED underneath the button to give the whole button a glow. Alternatively, elastomer buttons can be painted to be completely opaque, where the iconography can then be laser etched into the paint. When an LED shines under the button, only the laser etched area of the icon will allow light through, illuminating just the iconography.

  4. Cost-effective tooling and construction: While plastic keys and buttons are often injection molded, elastomer keypads are compression molded since the keys and the mat are one single piece. As a result, the tooling for rubber keypads costs significantly less when compared to other popular switch options. Elastomer keypads also tend to be much simpler to tool and to assemble due to the one-piece construction, leading to quicker prototyping and faster lead times.

  5. Durability: Elastomer keypads are completely sealed and offer unparalleled cleanability. They are ideal for any application where they might be subjected to liquids, chemicals, or unwanted moisture. They can endure temperatures ranging from -30° C to 80° C.

Ultimately, elastomer keypads are one of the most customizable types of switch design, offering a host of different options to make sure it fits your unique product perfectly. To learn more about your possibilities with elastomer, check out our elastomer page or schedule a consultation with our experts.