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Contact Points(HKTDC Electronic Components & Parts, Vol 03,2007)

Keypads

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Timac Int'l Ltd manufactures silicon keypads and trades in LCD watch modules, among other gifts and premiums level electronic items

Established 2004, Timac Int'l Ltd manufactures silicon keypads and trades in LCD watch modules, among other gifts and premiums level electronic items.

"Our main line is silicon keypads intended for electronic calculators, electronic games and other electronic products and for computer keyboards," says manager Fanny Hui. "However, to satisfy buyers' further needs, we also provide LCD modules used mostly in watches, silicon straps and O rings that are used in pressure cookers."

Timac offers its own keypad designs, but caters mostly to OEM needs. "Sometimes, the client simply wants to modify one of our keypads while on other occasions they supply the blueprint for a completely new model," Hui says.

"Generally speaking, there are few standard dimensions or colours for keypads and we simply make to order. However, for reference, I can advise that we have produced keypads up to 8x24cm in size and 0.4mm in thickness with at least three different colours on the same pad."

Demand for straightforward keypads in everyday use remains strong, while calls for touch keypads are increasing. "We cater mainly to the mass-market, low-end, and look for large orders of the traditional type of keypads that makes economical sense. We are also developing a line of touch-sensor keypads," Hui says.

"Keypads are so common that one might think that there are many suppliers, but actually there are only a few," she adds, noting that while former competitors moved upmarket, Timac was satisfied with its niche. "We play to our strengths and there is enough demand to keep us in business. We are one of the few fish remaining at this level of the pond, but it is a tactic that pays off. We don't suffer much by way of direct competition, and keypads are relatively simple products that are easy to manufacture."

The minimum order quantity for keypads depends on whether the design already exists or has to be created afresh. "If we already have the tooling we can accept orders for 5,000 keypads at a time," Hui says.

"If we need to create new tooling and moulds, however, we would probably require orders for 50,000 units," she adds, stating that on occasion Timac will ask the customer to pay the tooling charges. "This might be refunded, depending on the order quantity."

With regard to future developments, the firm will remain cautious before looking at the possibilities for other silicon products. "We really do want to establish an international foothold," Hui says.

That said, Timac enjoys good business in silicon bands and straps that are often used for identification or message purposes. "We sell them complete with company logos or phrases such as 'Have a nice day'," Hui reveals. "These items make an interesting sideline as we are already buying and using the silicon raw material. Other sidelines include various silicon home-use products and baby pacifiers, and O-rings."

Commenting on Timac's business in watch modules, Hui says it stems from the firm's close relationship with associate firm, Joyful Int'l Enterprise Ltd. "It just so happens that some of our keypad clients are also interested in digital watches and we introduce the products we obtain from our associate. It is another way of generating business."

Mostly, this part of the business is in LCD modules. "These come in all different sizes and designs as well as different colours for the digits and the EL backlight, which we can supply in multicoloured versions in seven colours," says Hui.

"Actually, we can help clients to source everything they need for their timepieces, including crystals, complete watches and clocks, and even gift items, all coming from different suppliers."

Production takes place at the firm's 1,500-square-metre, 160-worker factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland. "We use hydraulic injection machines for production," Hui says, "and source silicon materials locally."

The production capacity per month for keypads is 50 million units, mostly OEM products. "If required, we can meet the RoHS standards for Europe," says Hui, adding that keypad unit prices range from US$0.001-0.20.

Timac is clearly satisfied with its growth and development both in its keypads niche and its possibilities from other lines.

TEXT BY TONY HENDERSON

Timac Int'l Ltd
Unit 14, 5/F, Blk A,
Profit Ind Bldg,
1-15 Kwai Fung Crescent,
Kwai Fong, New Territories,
Hong Kong
Tel: 852-2388-3988
Fax: 852-2388-6800
Email:
info@hkjoyful.com
Web: www.hkjoyful.com