Not all electronics are used in homes or office environments where conditions are carefully controlled. Ruggedized electronics are designed for use in harsh environments and have to be designed to function in extreme conditions. Many keypad designs won’t survive these situations which is why manufacturers prefer molded keypads made of silicone.
The Need For Ruggedized Electronics
The military is one of the leading clients needing equipment designed to survive harsh conditions. With operations all over the world, electronics need to remain reliable in scorching desert, humid jungles, or freezing arctic conditions. Packing the equipment in a protective case between uses is not an option. The case adds weight that a soldier needs for other equipment, plus there may not be time to carefully pack the equipment away during an operation.
Civilian clients aren’t much less demanding than military ones. Their ruggedized electronics might be used on field projects where they are exposed to environmental extremes, industrial area where heat and dust are common, or laboratories with corrosive chemicals. This equipment needs molded keypads that won’t be fouled by contaminants or destroyed by environmental factors.
Rugged Coatings For Rugged Electronics
Custom silicone keypads have a number of properties that make them idea for ruggedized electronics. The flexible material means the material won’t fracture if struck by a hard blow. The one-piece construction of the unit resists liquid and gas contaminants getting into the delicate electronics. Silicone has inherent resistance to a number of chemicals and the molded keypads can be customized to fit any size or shape needed.
The inherent capabilities of silicone custom keypads can be enhanced by a number of coatings. Abrasion resistance means the keys won’t wear down and the markings won’t wear off even under heavy abuse. Chemical resistant coatings enhance the silicone’s natural resistance, guarding it against petroleum products and oxidizing chemicals. Conductive coatings protect the electronics behind the molded keypads, keeping them working over a million activation cycles and shielding from EMI.
Tough Solutions Even For Easy Environments
Although the average household may not pose the same challenges as military or industrial clients, consumers will still appreciate the durability of custom silicone keypads.
Liquids are one of the worst enemies of consumer electronics. A spilled drink can spell disaster for electronics, but using molded keypads allows the liquid to slide right off. This doesn’t make the entire component water tight, but it adds some water resistance that customers will appreciate.
Kids are rough on custom keypads even when they aren’t spilling on them. Whether it’s the TV remote, controls on a child’s toy, or some electronic device the kids shouldn’t touch (but you know they will) molded keypads stand up to the abuse. The durability they provide can add years of life to a product and build a company’s reputation for building reliable products.