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Rubber keypad suppliers target broader applications

rubber_keypad_unitel2Taiwan’s rubber keypad manufacturers are focusing on types with a broad application base to

strengthen foothold in a market shifting to touchscreen solutions. Suppliers are rolling out models designed to meet requirements in mobile and fixed-line phones, digital cameras, fax machines, printers, calculators and car control panels.

For the first sector, makers are developing thin and light variants targeted at low-end smartphones. Riding this trend, Silitech Technology Corp. has launched nonconductive vacuum metallization or NCVM, gapless and TPU selections. The company, which accounts for more than 20 percent of handset keypad output worldwide, is optimistic the line will remain prevalent in basic cell phones.

Some suppliers produce QWERTY versions, which are likewise popular in the segment.

To attract more orders, enterprises are adopting modular designs and employing environment-friendly, high-grade materials. The last consists of easy-to-clean and abrasion-resistant inputs that can withstand legend printing. Manufacturers ensure releases meet RoHS guidelines.

Makers are likewise employing various techniques that improve aesthetics to match latest trends in computer, communication and consumer electronics products. Great Rubber Co. Ltd, for example, has adopted dual-injection molding technology, also called double-color injection molding. This procedure involves a single injection for two materials, resulting in dual colors or textures.

Under efforts to boost competitiveness, Taiwan suppliers are exploring other sectors, including industrial, medical, automotive and military.

Kingley Rubber Industrial Co. Ltd, for instance, has applied for the requisite TS 16949 certification for cars.

Some take advantage of their experience in rubber and plastic molding to cater to the gifts and toy markets. Great Rubber offers promotional keychains, photo frames and USB accessories in the former input.

Manufacturers such as Kingley, meanwhile, provide related products, including rubber and plastic molding components, membrane switches, and touch panel and in-mold decoration solutions.

Suppliers invest in silk-screening machines, automation lines and injection equipment, and shorten the delivery period to bolster OEM/ODM business.

There are 30 to 40 makers engaged in the segment in Taiwan, mostly small and midsize operations.

The major players are Kingley, Silitech and Unitel High Technology Corp. Some carry out manufacture in mainland China or have subcontracting companies there.


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