Are Silicone Rubber Buttons Good for You?

Silicone rubber buttons provide a comfortable and soft platform that allows you to send commands, interact with your electronic device, and get responses swiftly. Still, many individuals are concerned about its effect on their health since it is made from silicone. However, a conductive silicone rubber button is safe and unlikely to cause any allergic reaction. But that’s not all; this article explores the features and benefits of silicone rubber buttons. Keep reading!

What Is a Silicone Rubber Button?

A silicone rubber button is made using silicone rubber to foster interaction between the user and their device. In simple terms, silicone rubber buttons are the soft and comfortable buttons used in remote controls, calculators, keyboards, industrial machinery, and medical devices

Due to the silicone rubber used in producing these buttons, they are durable, flexible, thermally stable, and also can deliver tactile feedback. The tactile response confirms that the button you pressed successfully sent a signal to the electronic component you are trying to interact with. 

Suppose you’re seeing a TV show you do not like and decide to switch to your favorite TV show. Once you click on the channel number on your remote controller, a response follows, the button bounces back after the pressure is released, and sometimes a faint sound. This shows that your action was successful and if the input is accurate, then your favorite TV series will begin streaming almost immediately.

How do Silicone Rubber Buttons Work?

Depending on the manufacturer, silicone rubber buttons usually have a square or a dome shape underneath, and inside the button are conductive materials separated when the button is not pressed. When you press the rubber button, they apply force to the top of the dome. 

This force causes the dome to collapse or deform inward. As the dome collapses, the internal conductive materials come into contact with each other, completing an electrical circuit. This circuit closure is detected by the device’s controller as an input command. 

Note that the collapsing dome provides users tactile feedback, often in the form of a satisfying click or push sensation, confirming that the button press was successful. When you release the button, the dome returns to its original shape, breaking the contact between the conductive materials. This action signals the end of the input. 

What Are the Physical Properties of Silicone Rubber Buttons?

Silicone rubber keypad buttons have organic and inorganic material properties while presenting some advantages not found in other organic rubbers. These buttons embody electrical properties, high resistance to cold and heat, flame reduction, and good chemical stability. However, they have many properties attached to them that aid their functionality; some of these characteristics include the following:

  • Low Thermal Conductivity: The thermal conductivity of silicone rubber buttons and other materials is their ability to conduct heat. So, a material with high thermal conductivity has excellent heat transfer capabilities. However, in the case of silicone rubber buttons, they have poor heat transfer properties, making them good insulators against temperature changes.
  • Excellent Resistance to Extreme Temperatures: Silicone rubber buttons can withstand high and low temperatures without losing their properties. This is because they are thermally stable, so their properties or physical integrity do not easily change, no matter the temperature of your environment.
  • Flexible and Elastic: A silicone rubber push button is highly flexible and can stretch and bend without breaking or cracking, which is valuable in many industrial and medical applications.
  • Low Electrical Conductivity: Since they are good insulators, they do not allow electric current to pass through them, hence their low electrical conductivity. This property makes them safe to support and separate electrical conductors in your device.
  • Chemically Inert: Being inert means that they are chemically nonreactive. For this reason, silicone rubber buttons are resistant to many chemicals. Even when silicone rubber buttons face attack by chemical compounds, it’s usually hydrofluoric acid(in long-term exposure), concentrated sulphuric acid, and high-pressure steam.
  • Non-toxic: Their base material, silicone, is hypoallergenic, meaning that silicone rubber buttons are unlikely to cause an allergic reaction. In addition, they are non-toxic, making them safe for use in medical and food-grade applications.
  • UV and Ozone Resistance: While mostly used indoors, their application extends to outdoor settings. You don’t have to worry about losing their physical properties or functionalities due to prolonged exposure to ultraviolet (UV) light and ozone because they are manufactured to withstand those.
  • Non-stick: If you’re concerned about the maintenance and cleaning of silicone rubber buttons, you have nothing to worry about. Silicone rubber buttons have a low surface energy, making them non-stick and easy to release from molds or surfaces.

What Are the Features of Silicone Rubber Buttons?

Silicone rubber button pads have various properties that enable them to perform many electronic functions efficiently. Some of these features protect them from cracking when stretched or bent, while others prevent them from losing their integrity. Here’s a rundown of the features of silicone rubber buttons and how these characteristics affect its functionalities:

1. Water Resistance

Silicone rubber buttons are water-repellent because of the hydrophobic material they are made from.  This material prevents water from infiltrating and affecting their functionality while prolonging their lifespan. Also, manufacturers use sealing mechanisms to further improve their water-repelling properties  

2. Tactile Buttons

Rubber silicone push buttons can provide tactile feedback—transmitting responses from the buttons to you. Depending on the model or manufacturer of your device, when you press some silicone rubber buttons, they make a sound, this response denotes that you have successfully initiated an action.  

3. Printed Circuit Board (PCB)

Imagine PCBs are thin, flat boards are usually made of fiberglass or similar material, and they’re designed to provide a platform for electrical components to connect. PCBs are embedded within or beneath the silicone rubber keypad in silicone rubber buttons. 

Tiny conductive traces run on the surface of the PCB, and when you press a silicone button, it pushes down on these traces, creating an electrical connection. This simple but effective mechanism allows your remote control, calculator, or keyboard to send signals or perform functions when you press the tactile buttons. 

4. Backlighting

When working late into the night or watching videos in the dark, it can be difficult to switch channels, pause the movie you’re seeing, increase your display’s volume, or carry out other activities with your remote control or keypads, especially traditional buttons that are not backed by highly efficient backlighting technology or any backlighting technology at all.

However, manufacturers produce devices with highlighted keypads and silicone rubber buttons for night mode or dark environments. This feature ensures that your keypad is not useless in the dark. Many manufacturers mostly use light-emitting diode backlighting technology, have excellent brightness, are energy efficient, resistant to heat and other temperature concerns.

5. Laser Etching

Having a custom silicone rubber button product with backlighting technology is a waste if laser etching is not carried out by the manufacturer to ensure that certain lines or the original designs can be visualized when the LED backlighting comes on. Laser etching is a process done to create marks on parts of products by using a laser machine to melt their surface. 

Why is this important for silicone rubber buttons? It is necessary for silicone rubber remote controls, calculators, and keyboards because it creates marks, like symbols, alphabets, figures, logos, barcodes, etc., differentiating certain designs from the others. Aside from that, laser etching makes specific parts of your keypad transparent, allowing the backlight to shine through the elements.

6. Key Customization

Silicone buttons have a range of customization options. You can decide what color, size, or shape you want and watch your manufacturer prepare them. Also, the hardness level is another feature of silicone rubber buttons. The custom hardness allows you to decide the hardness or softness level for your buttons.; the higher the hardness level, the tougher the keypad, and vice-versa.

Advantages of Using Silicone Rubber Buttons in Consumer Electronic Products

Silicon rubber buttons are produced or created with silicone rubber webbing, which gives it more advantage over other webbing materials. These benefits have increased their adoption rate in consumer electronics; you can find remote controls, calculators, button phones, computers, laptops, smartphones, gaming consoles, and wearables.

One advantage of silicone buttons for electronics is their moisture resistance. While they are excellent water repellents, they are usually combined with other elements to ensure a seamless experience, so it is advisable to keep them away from water for some consumer electronics, such as laptops and phones and wearables that aren’t waterproof. 

In addition to that, silicone rubber keypads are affordable; with an average of $0.04, you can get silicone rubber buttons perfect for your needs or requirements. The retail price is low because the manufacturing cost is low, and there may be too much supply or competition among suppliers. 

Silicone rubber keypads are known for their tactile feedback. Because of this, it is difficult to input errors, as it will notify the user of the actual word inputted before that time. Also, silicone rubber buttons for electronics have backlighting. The Light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting helps enhance the rubber buttons’ display. 

Applications of Silicone Rubber Buttons

Silicone rubber buttons have become popular due to their safety, comfortability, and tactile response, all relevant features to ensure you have the best experience. Some of the common applications of the silicone rubber keypads include  but are not limited to:

1. Electronics 

Electronic devices are one of the most popular materials incorporating silicone rubber buttons. Hence, you’ll always find electronic silicone push button rubber keypads and smartphones, wearables, laptops, TVs, etc. Although these rubber buttons for electronics are sometimes used in high and low temperatures, they still function properly because silicone rubber buttons are thermally stable.

In addition, silicone and many products incorporating it, including consumer electronics, are all eco-friendly. So you can use your remote control, gaming console, and other devices consistently without worrying about heat transfer or the amount of energy they release into the environment.

2. Industrial Settings

Industries like construction and agriculture often require equipment that operates in outdoor conditions without losing its integrity. Silicone rubber buttons are ideal for these environments due to their resistance to extreme temperatures, moisture, and UV exposure. However, that’s not their only application in industrial settings; others include:

  • Control Panels: In industrial machinery and equipment, silicone rubber buttons are often used to interface these panels. Their tactile feedback and resistance to dust and moisture make them perfect for controlling heavy-duty machinery, even with gloves on.
  • Instrumentation: In laboratories and manufacturing facilities, silicone rubber buttons are present on instruments like testing equipment and other materials used for instrumentation, especially those requiring precise input. 
  • Safety Devices: Silicone rubber buttons are used in emergency stop buttons and safety switches because they respond quickly when you apply pressure on them, ensuring that the machinery halts immediately when necessary.

3. Medical Devices

Hospitals are one of the main breeding places for diseases and pathogens, and materials or buttons that accumulate dirt and germs and are tough to clean are usually not ideal for this setting. When these pathogens are not cleaned properly they begin to spread through touch and direct contact with the button.

However, hospitals leveraging silicone rubber buttons are safe from accumulated and stubborn dirt and diseases, because these buttons can be cleaned easily and they are also chemically inert. This means that certain chemicals can be used to thoroughly clean and sanitize the button to keep everyone in the healthcare center safe.

Customization Options for Silicone Rubber Buttons

Silicone keypads can be manufactured specifically to suit your taste, depending on your setting and requirements. One of the most popular manufacturers known for their customization options is Legenday. For them, customers come first, so they offer solutions tailored to client needs and budgets. Here are some of the common ways personalization is made possible:

1. Compression Molding

Compression molding is a manufacturing process that uses compressive force to make a product e.g., silicone, to conform to the shape of a mold (a silicone button pad). The machinery used for compression molding consists of a lower and upper part. The lower part is immovable, while manufacturers use guided pins to move the upper compartment to and fro.

Now, the lower part of the die (mold) can heat and cool substances. In the mold, plastics, lubricants, silicone, and other materials are placed and compressed using the upper part of the die. The substance is then heated at around 130 to 140°C. Once completely melted, the upper part of the die is lifted, and the melted article is retrieved.

Why do manufacturers use compression molding? Compression molding is cost-effective and ensures minimal residual stress on the silicone rubber button after completion. Also, the mold does not usually require additional modifications or maintenance after the procedure.

But the cost efficiency is only enjoyed when you’re making many parts, like 500 per time. In addition, depending on the manufacturer, post-mold treatments like trimming and machining are sometimes required to give the parts the desired shape. If not done properly, rough trims and edges may become more pronounced.

2. Injection Molding

Injection molding is a manufacturing process that produces look-like parts by injecting molten plastics into a mold. This process has become widely integrated for silicone button production because it allows you to produce more parts at lower prices, making it more cost-effective than other molding methods, including compression molding.

To carry out this process, you need polymer granules because they are the root of the entire procedure. These granules are mixed with the coloring agents in a hopper, which is then pushed to melt in the barrel under high temperatures. Once the melting is complete, the screw moves forward and injects the melted polymer granules into the mold through the runner system. 

Here, the liquid plastic cools and gradually solidifies as the temperature drops, taking the shape of the mold (in this case, silicone rubber buttons). At the end of the injection molding process, the mold opens up, and the injector pins force the remaining liquid (unsolidified substances) out. Once they are discarded, the mold closes, and the injection molding process repeats.

This process is swift, so injection molding allows you to complete processes quickly. It usually takes 30 to 90 seconds to complete one round of the silicone rubber button and other product injection molding processes. Besides speed, it allows creativity and versatility to choose between 25,000 injection molding materials. 

Additionally, it allows you to produce more units faster, and the machinery used is highly durable with long lifetimes. However, injection molding has a cost restraint. While it is generally cheaper than 3D printing and other types of silicone rubber button customization, it requires a high upfront cost for tools and equipment, the time spent by engineers to create custom molds for each geometry, and sometimes training. 

Since it costs a lot of resources to design the mold, it is advisable to use your mold for only one purpose, which is designing silicone rubber buttons. This is because once the mold design is complete, any additional changes will cost you hundreds to thousands of dollars, depending on the engineer and the complexity of your machine.

Maintenance and Cleaning of Silicone Rubber Buttons

Beyond having and knowing how to navigate through silicone rubber buttons, it is paramount to know how to maintain them. Proper cleaning and maintenance can improve the appearance and functionality of your keypads or buttons. Some maintenance and cleaning guides include:

  • Carry Out Regular Maintenance: For silicone buttons regular maintenance, use a soft, lint-free cloth or a microfiber cloth to wipe down the buttons. This will help remove dust, fingerprints, and surface dirt. Nevertheless, you should avoid abrasive materials like rough sponges or paper towels that could scratch the buttons.
  • Use Mild Soap and Water: For more stubborn dirt probably stuck between keys, you can use mild soap and warm water. Dampen a cloth or sponge with this solution and gently wipe the silicone rubber buttons. Ensure the cloth is not soaking wet; you don’t want water seeping into the gaps around the buttons.
  • Avoid Using Harsh Chemicals: Silicone rubber buttons generally resist many chemicals. However, it’s still best to avoid harsh solvents or abrasive cleaning agents because they can damage the rubber button’s surface over time.
  • Alcohol-Based Cleaners: If you’re looking for a disinfectant for a product with a silicone rubber button, isopropyl alcohol (70% or higher) can be used. Apply it to a cloth or cotton swab and gently wipe the buttons. However, you must ensure the alcohol doesn’t drip into the device’s internals.
  • Q-Tips or Toothbrush: For intricate designs or buttons with small apertures, a soft-bristle toothbrush or Q-tip dipped in soapy water can help get into those tight spaces for a thorough clean.
  • Avoid Dirty Fingers: This is mainly for business owners using the rubber keypad or button in an industrial setting. Constant operating of the rubber button with dirty fingers damages the keypad components as debris will find its way down it. Excess dirt in the keypad switch and PCB deprives the electrical switch from performing its work. In this case, you notice that whatever you press will not be registered.

Silicone Rubber Buttons Vs. Mechanical Buttons

Besides silicone rubber buttons, other materials are used to manufacture buttons with great advantages for various industries. Here, we are going to silicone rubber buttons with three different buttons. Let’s get started!

1. Silicone Rubber Buttons Vs. Mechanical Buttons

The first difference to highlight between silicone rubber buttons and mechanical buttons is their base materials—the primary or underlying material on which each button is made. Silicone rubber buttons have webbed parts and are made from silicone rubber, while mechanical buttons have individual moving parts and are made from hard plastics. 

When it comes down to their resistance to prolonged exposure to various environmental factors, silicone rubber buttons are slightly ahead. They are strong, highly durable, and resistant to water and moisture. On the other hand, mechanical buttons offer adequate durability and strength, but they aren’t waterproof.

Also, they both produce good tactile feedback,  but what about their prices? For costs, mechanical buttons are way cheaper than silicone rubber buttons. The latter requires a lot of initial investment in machinery, training, and engineers to design your desired mold shape. When you decide to mold different parts, you’ll need to ask the engineers to redesign it completely.

2. Silicone Rubber Buttons Vs. Plastic Buttons

As discussed earlier, silicone rubber buttons are soft and comfortable. However, plastic buttons are usually hard but are perfect for decoration on clothes, bags, shoes, and other materials. Considering toxicity and what button is more likely to cause an allergic reaction, silicone rubber buttons are nontoxic and hypoallergenic, so they are not likely to cause allergic reactions like plastic buttons.

Both buttons are excellent water and moisture resistors. In fact, plastic buttons can be immersed in water for a long time, and they’ll not lose their incredible color or integrity. Also, plastic buttons can be customized into various colors and shapes, like heart plastic buttons and smiley buttons in yellow, blue, green, and large sizes. 

3. Silicone Rubber Buttons Vs. Capacitive Buttons

Silicone rubber buttons are straightforward—when you press them, they move, creating a tactile response. On the flip side, capacitive buttons do not measure the pressure on the remote. Rather, they respond according to the electrical charges or signals your body sends. These buttons are sleek and touch-sensitive buttons. 

When you touch capacitive buttons, they detect the change in electrical charge caused by your fingertip. No need to press hard; a gentle touch is enough. Capacitive buttons offer a modern and elegant design, often found in smartphones, tablets, and high-tech gadgets; they’re smooth and responsive.

For costs of manufacturing, capacitive buttons are more expensive to produce than silicone rubber buttons. This is because capacitive buttons often require more sophisticated technology and materials, such as specialized touch-sensitive sensors and glass or high-quality materials for the button surface. On the other hand, silicone rubber buttons are simpler in terms of technology and materials. 

Conclusion

When shopping for keypads to use at your home, hospital, or workplace, you’ll need a  silicone rubber button manufacturer with years of experience in manufacturing and customizing these buttons for thousands of settings. Legenday offers the most durable, strongest, and fully waterproof silicone rubber push buttons to fit your environment.

So, suppose you want to work with a team whose products are certified by the best industry standard organizations, including Mosen and Wuxutang, and offer excellent customer support. In that case, Legenday is your go-to manufacturer; contact them today for 100% pure silicone-based material solutions.

FAQs

1. How Long Does Silicone Rubber Last?

Silicone rubber has a long lifetime, so generally, it should last between 20-25 years. You can clean and gently maintain the silicone rubber during this period using mild detergent and warm water.

2. Is Silicone Rubber Harmful?

No, silicone is not harmful. In its natural state, silicone is hypoallergenic, so it is less likely to cause an allergic reaction. However, in extremely rare cases, you’ll find individuals allergic to silicone.

3. Are TV Remote Buttons Rubber or Silicone?

TV remote buttons can be made from various materials, including rubber and silicone. Both silicone and rubber television remote controls provide comfortable tactile feedback and are quite cost-efficient. However, the choice of which one is best depends on you and your needs.

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