Keypad Membrane Manufacturer Tells 5 Secrets about Silicone Pads

17 Nov, 2021

By hqt

Silicone rubber keypad membrane is not a problem

Today I’m talking about keypad membrane. Yes, I admit, I have a personal propensity towards this type of keypad membrane. I have always liked them. I love their tactile feeling. It is difficult to reach with other technologies.

There are multiple aesthetic variants available. Moreover, it provides the three-dimensionality and that “soft” touch they can offer.

In short, today I will be fair. Similarly, I hope you will grant it to me.

One of the first objections I’ve always received on these keyboards is: “but they do it in China!”

Yes, this type of keyboard, due to their specific processing which requires a lot of manual activity, comes in the Far East.

keypad membrane

keypad membrane Low cost and a product with limited added value

As you know, not everything that comes from the Far East is synonymous with poor quality, low cost and a product with limited added value. For years the producers of fabrics, even of the highest value, have relocated their production sites to the Far East, and this has certainly not lowered their level of prestige.

Think of the very famous Chinese silks, in ancient times they were very precious and already very expensive. In short, we could continue with many examples but this is not what we are talking about and I do not have to convince you that in China there are not only low cost or low value products.

Silicone keypad membrane are a product that requires a lot of manual work to make.

We start from silicone, like the “Saratoga” one, to be clear, which has a very particular viscosity and consistency and is not suitable to produce keypad membrane.

It is worked to achieve a consistency suitable for making keyboards using steel rollers (imagine a large Imperia machine to make tagliatelle) that allow you to mix different additives and polymers (from dyes, to light guides for the homogeneous diffusion of the backlighting), until the right consistency, the desired shore hardness and color homogeneity are achieved.

keypad membrane process has a different duration

This process has a different duration depending on the additives that must be incorporated into the silicone and the quantity of silicone being processed.

Then the silicone thus obtained manually divides into portions useful for molding the individual keyboards.

The various portions come in the cavities of the mold. Each mold has a useful number of cavities that vary according to the size of the keypad membrane, the number of pieces that must come in each production batch and the tooling costs that one is willing to bear.

keypad membrane Thin areas around the keys

The silicone portions are easy to put by hand, it is not possible to use injection molds as the thin areas around the keys, to be clear, those that allow the descent and ascent of the key itself, would be difficult to reach with this type.

process and it would not be possible to have a correct distribution of the silicone. You already understand at this point how much manual skill is required for the production of a keyboard.

The molding time, pressure and temperature

The keyboards are thermoformed inside the cavities, while the conductive pads (carbon or gold) join directly. The molding time, pressure and temperature are the three variables that, depending on the size of the keyboards, allow them to be successful.

It is not so important how “extended” the keyboard to be made is, but the thicknesses of silicone used.   For example, not being able to use an excessive temperature that would lead to various problems for the silicone, it will be necessary to increase the thermoforming time according to the dimensions.

keyboards are removed from the mold

Then the thermoformed keypad membrane is easy to remove from the mold (always manually) with the help of a jet of compressed air, any burrs present are easy to eliminate for subsequent processing.

Let’s now pass to the aesthetic and finishing activities. The silicone rubber keyboards are easy to paint, printed, screen printed, lasered and finally protected by a surface coating. Each of these stages goes through a UV oven for fixing and drying.

How do we discern a keypad membrane manufacturer?

At the end of all this the keyboards, after a visual and functional check, come in packages.

Of course, but the doubt that remains is about the quality!

You are right! So how do we discern a good keyboard manufacturer from one who could put our productions at risk?

Let me tell you openly … it’s not that simple …

It took me several years and many nasty surprises before I got to select the right partners for the realization of the silicone rubber keypad membrane.

Today, I have been collaborating for a long time (and with a strong continuous presence within it), I have developed a series of parameters to evaluate and monitor a producer.

Specific experience in this kind of productions counts

First, the specific experience in this kind of productions counts. There are many silicone printers, but printing a keyboard, due to the diversity and complexity of the process, is something extremely different from printing other objects. It therefore makes sense, if you are looking for a keyboard manufacturer.

To choose a partner who only molds keyboards and not a thousand other things like gadgets, smartphone covers, trays, etc… It is important that he is specified in keyboards.

Membrane Keypad Panel-11

You need to be able to monitor

A second aspect is to have a continuous control on raw materials. And both for a repetition of the functional aesthetic characteristics. Similarly for any resistance to harsh environments or use in demanding environments.

Let me tell you, certifications don’t help you much in this.  You need to be able to monitor it very closely to avoid unpleasant surprises.


The third aspect is to guarantee the repetition of the approved characteristics in the samples. Moreover, in the first production batch it is good to have quality work. Even after many years it is essential to be able to guarantee quality continuity.

 Think about the color of your keypad membrane, which most likely must match that of the case of your equipment. You certainly cannot accept that it changes between one production batch and another.


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