Amidst the waves of technology that continually wash over the modern world, keyboards still stand the test of time. They do not, however, remain unchanged. The standard keyboard now stands alongside several types, such as multifunctional, handheld and flexible keyboards, made from different materials. One of these keyboard types is the silicone keyboard. Along with the silicone keyboard stands the silicone keypad, which uses similar technology.
Keyboards and keypads made from silicone are common for a number of reasons. Firstly, silicone is considered to be an abundant resource, and as a result, products made with it can be cheaply produced. Secondly, a silicone keyboard can be quite durable, in some ways even more durable than a standard keyboard. Additionally, the silicone keyboard skin can protect the keyboard from many different substances.
One type of keyboard that is almost universally made from silicone is the flexible keyboard. Its silicone makeup allows it such flexibility that it can be rolled up or folded, though it must be on a hard surface to work. The silicone is also liquid and dust proof.
Silicone keypads use the compression molding properties of silicone rubber to create angled webbing around a switch center, which, when pushed down, uniformly deforms to produce a tactile response. When the pressure is released, the switch returns to its neutral position with positive feedback.
Silicone keypads are not generally used with computers per se, but rather have applications in TV remote controls, video and HIFI units, mobile handsets, low current switching in automobiles, electronic games and toys, and industrial control equipment. Such equipment is used in the marine, medical, and military industries, and is sealed to comply with specific industry standards for protection against elements like dust and liquids.
A silicone keyboard or keypad can be customized to create several different surface effects. For example, a keyboard or keypad can take one, multiple or flowing colors through the addition of pigment into the natural silicone. Individual keys can also be illuminated by SMT LEDs that are placed on circuit boards after laser etching.