Silicone rubber keypad for industrial devices, 3D stack-up

Silicone keypads offer robustness and 3D design opportunities

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  • HMI solutions from concept to production
  • Cross-industry HMI expertise
  • Keypad technologies and materials
  • Case studies 

Engineering of a silicone rubber keypad

Silicone rubber keypad with raised keys and good tactility for outdoor machinery
Silicone rubber keypad for forlift trucks with LED status light
Metal domes for tactile click in industrial keypads
FPC - flexible printed circuit - copper-based electrically conductive foil for industrial keypads
Electrical tail for industrial keypad - connection between keypad and PCB
  • There are two main types of coatings, each with distinct advantages. 

    • PU coating - offers great abrasion resistance and durability, a smooth finish ranging from matte to high gloss.
    • Silicone coating - with non-stick properties and excellent moisture and temperature resistance. 


    The choice of surface treatment of silicone rubber depends greatly on your specific requirements in terms of mechanical properties, environmental resistance, and the desired finish.


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  • When it comes to shapes and 3D design, silicone rubber keypads have a unique advantage compared to other keypad types.


    The silicone overlay is made using compression-moulding technique. This provides a great options for sculpting the material to different shapes. 


    Concave buttons, distinct recesses around keys, split lines between different areas, multi-level design are some of the sculpting opportunities that silicone rubber offers. 

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  • In general, we distinguish between three main options for adding colour to your silicone rubber keypad.   

    • Co-moulding involves molding of two or more different coloured silicone rubbers together. This colouring method ensures high durability of the colour. 
    • With spray-painting, you can add fine graphic details to selected parts of the keypad.
    • Silkscreen printing is also an option - although with certain limitations as it requires flat surface for application of the ink. 

    The robustness of silicone rubber opens up for the possibility to laser-engraving or laser-etching. which in principle means that the colour applied as the top layer is removed at certain places to reveal a different colour or the original translucent colour beneath. 

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  • Lighting in silicone rubber keypads enhances both aesthetics and functionality. 

    • Status indicators provide immediate, clear feedback through backlit windows or symbols, signaling device status or actions needed.
    • Deadfront or ghost effect lighting has a more sleek modern look. The symbols remain "hidden" and more discreet than status indicators.    
    • Backlighting serves a functional purpose, ensuring keys are visible in dark conditions, facilitating ease of use anytime. 

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  • The tactile click in silicone rubber keys is achieved using:

    • metal domes  as the most common method for creating the click of a keypad, with wide range of shapes and sizes of the domes to choose from.

    • tactile switches, often used with a PCB as the circuit layer in the keypad, ideal for designs where space is tight.

    • silicone click:, created by designing the silicone keys to snap when pressed, equipped with a carbon pill for connectivity with the circuit. It’s a sustainable solution that reduces the number of layers needed.

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  • In the construction of a silicone rubber keypad, the circuitry is typically crafted from one of the following materials, each offering distinct advantages: 

    • PET - known for being both economical and widely used, PET stands as the most accessible option.
    • FPC - this option utilizes a copper-based foil known for its excellent conductivity and flexibility, making it ideal for applications requiring bending.
    • PCB - ideal for situations requiring rigidity and the ability to solder components directly to the PCB.


    Selecting the ideal circuit layer material for your keypad is determined by the product's intended use environment, along with its electrical and mechanical design requirements.

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  • Finalizing the mechanical and electrical integration of a keypad is crucial for the overall design of your keypad solution. As you navigate through the design process, it’s important to consider several key aspects.


    For mechanical integration, reflect on:

    • What method will you select for securing the silicone keypad to your device? Options include adhesives, screws, or press-fit techniques.
    • Consider the installation orientation of the keypad. Will it be mounted to the front, back, or side of the device?

    Regarding the electrical connection:

    • Assess the distance between the keypad and the PCB of your product. What will be the length of the connecting tail?
    • Determine whether the connecting tail will require twisting or bending to fit properly.
    • Will the electrical connection will be subjected to vibrations or tension during the product’s use?
    • Also, consider if the keypad needs to be removable for maintenance or service purposes.

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The feeling and the sound of pressing a key define a keypad's tactility. Yet, with this keypad, tactility achieves a remarkable feat: complete silence. This engineering breakthrough was essential, given the device's purpose—to measure sound in a room with high precision. Watch HMI webinar on-demand for more design tips

Using silicone rubber for your keypad material opens up endless possibilities for key design. Shapes significantly enhance the tactility and usability of a keypad, especially when the device is used with gloves or in challenging conditions. Here is an example of concave keys which make it easy for the user to locate them. More on keypad materials in our HMI webinar on-demand

Silicone rubber keypad for lab and measurement devices | by Mekoprint

One of the key advantages of silicone rubber keypads is their exclusive look. Another one is the moldability of the material which makes it possible to create bespoke, elegant shapes. Order a free sample

You can colour a silicone rubber keypad by co-molding several tints of silicone rubber, painting or screen-printing, as demonstrated in this example. To reveal the translucent, light-diffusing layer of the silicone, a laser-engraving technique is employed to remove the colour layer. Order a free keypad sample to get a better idea of the possibilities

Silicone rubber keypad for agricultural machines with backlit keys

Backlight is essential for safe operation of a keypad during nighttime. In this case, the translucent silicone rubber ensures great light diffusion on and around the keys. Learn more about this case here. 

Silicone rubber keypad for forlift trucks with LED status light

Silicone rubber is a translucent material from its origin, making it ideal for creating evenly diffused backlit keys. To achieve this effect, layers that have been lacquered and colored are laser-engraved to reveal the translucent layer beneath, ensuring a smooth light diffusion. Request a free keypad sample

Silicone rubber keys combined with decorative and protective polyester front foil for industrial coffee machines | by Mekoprint

You can combine silicone rubber keys with front foils and plates. This combinations gives the graphics advantages of the polyester materials and the good tactile feedback of silicone keys. For more design tips - watch our on-demand HMI webinar

"It is our ambition to give our customers more than what they initially expect. We are curious. Ask questions. Get involved. Reflect on new ways to approach a task - be it complex or straightforward."

Business Development Manager, Mekoprint

Domenic Breitbart Nielsen

Case: Amazonen Werke - HMI solution that stands out in the industry

Silicon keys with good tactile feedback and backlighting

Order a free keypad sample

Domenic B. Nielsen
Business Development Manager, HMI & Industrial Graphics

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