Rubber Keycaps also known as rubber key cap, and rubber button covers. According to function, silicone keycaps can be divided into rubber gaming keycaps, rubber typing keycaps. According to appearance, push button covers/caps have blank rubber keycaps, rubber double shot keycaps, rubber backlit keycaps and custom printed keycaps. Silicone gel keycaps are widely used for mechanical keyboards, desktop, laptop, phone systems, switch buttons, pos machines, game machines, coffee makers and other electronics.
Rubber Keycaps Material and Features
Silicone keycaps are made from silicone rubber, a kind of elastomeric translucent synthetic material, by compression mold. They support various styles and colors, pink rubber keycaps, red rubber keycaps, purple rubber keycaps...
Generally, waterproof, dustproof, contamination prevention, environment-friendly, broken-resistant, wear-resistant, fashionable and aesthetic with goode lasticity and texture are rubber key cap features.
If made from antimicrobial/antibacterial silicone material, which is filled with ultra-fine zinc oxide powder and zirconium phosphate with silver, the push button covers will have good anti-bacterial property. Antimicrobial rubber keycaps can be used for food-contact machines, baby toy buttons or medical devices buttons.
In addition to rubber keycaps, custom keycaps can also be made from plastic, like PC, PMMA & Acylic, PVC, ABS+PC, PP, ABS, PBT etc. ABS keycaps are the cheapest and most common plastic used for keycaps, because ABS can be injection molded easily.
Plastic key caps are always used to assemble with custom rubber keyboards.( P+R rubber buttons)
Plastic keycaps and silicone buttons can be bonded by glue or overmolding. The temperature resistance of silica gel is better than that of plastics. Thus, LSR injection mold is needed for the combination of plastic keycaps and rubber buttons because the LSR injection molding need relatively low temperature than compression molding.
Good aesthetic and backlit effect, good touch feeling oilproof and anti-dust are plastic rubber keycaps properties.
Rubber Keycaps Matufacturing
Under certain pressure, temperature and time, rubber silicone cut pieces for forming the keycaps will be putted in the mold cavity and transformed into the shape of the cavity. The vulcanization process will harden the material and permanently transforming it into its finished shape. Finally, printing or laser etching them with desired symbols and sprayed with needed protective coating.
Double shot keycaps are made from a more complicated manufacturing process where two colors or dual hardness & durometer silicone rubber materials are compression molded separatly to make the keycap, resulting in that two-shot insert molded keycaps are unsurpassed in cosmetic appeal and graphic durability making them ideal for high use applications such as computer keyboards, phone systems, POS devices and industrial gauges and controls. It needs molding one desired color key or one desired hardness key first. The insertion tool will be used to push the insert molded keys into the main mold tool.
Rubber Keycaps Surface Legends & Graphics
Silkscreen Printing: Custom printed keycaps can be printed with different symbols by silkscreen printing. It is a process that squeezing paint through a silkscreen to print symbols on the surface of blank rubber keycaps & push button caps.
Laser Etched & Carved: The icons on laser etched silicone keycaps & rubber backlit keycaps can transmit the light from LED under the rubber gaming keycaps. It is the laser controlled process of removing the top coat layer of a painted keycap (usually black in color) to reveal lighter colored layer bellow so that they can illuminate in dark environment.
Rubber Keycaps Protective Coating
Oil Coating & Matte Smooth Cating: It is the most economical way to protect the silicone gel keycaps surface legends. The oil is sprayed on the rubber keycaps surface after the graphics are printed. It has good tactile feel.
PU Coating: Custom rubber keycaps with PU coating offer a great performance over cost ratio. They have good protective effect and abrasion resistance and offer keypad covers with longer service life.
Epoxy Coating: The epoxy keycaps has beautiful look and abrasion resistance function to resist chemical or oil. Epoxy is thick and glossy and will be applied by hands.
Rubber Keycaps and Rubber Keyboards Difference
Rubber key cap will not have key webs generally but the rubber keyboards will have button webing. What' more, rubber keypads like carbon pills conductive keypads, ink printing button pads, have conduction part for conduction. Therefore, silicone keycaps will be cheaper than rubber buttons generally.