21 Jan 2008
Handy Solutions(HKTDC Electronic Components & Parts, Vol 01,2008)
|Luen Fung Silicone Rubber Mfg Co offers a broad range of silicone rubber keypads, including membrane versions, for use in different industries|
Not only are keypads becoming smaller and lighter, they also feature modern, up-to-date designs and options such as laser etching and protective coatings
Hong Kong firms have in-depth experience in all types of keypads. For example, Hoi Wah Rubber Industrial Co Ltd specialises in producing silicone rubber keypads for a wide range of items, including calculators, telephones and toys.
With more than 20 years' experience, the company has built its reputation on a high standard of quality. "At 70% of our business, keypads for toys are our biggest category," says Sales Representative Cally Yip.
"Even though the most popular shape is rectangular, we can do keypads in any shape or colour," she promises, noting that any number of function keys can be added.
"In the future, we are going to experiment more with shape and colour," she insists, pointing out that the company maintains an inventory of some 300 different keypad designs that are priced from HK$2-3 each FOB Hong Kong.
Keypads can be ordered with PU coatings to reduce dust, epoxy potting and laser etching used with LED backlighting, she says.
Hoi Wah Rubber Industrial sources its raw material from Japan and Korea, while its highly-automated factory in Huizhou on the Chinese mainland is equipped with advanced production equipment such as CNC machine tools, CAD and compression machines.
Meanwhile, Golden Power Rubber Products Ltd is a specialist in laser etching. The firm's silicone keypads are mainly used in car audio products, calculators, telecommunication products, hand-held games and remote control devices.
Remote control devices for TVs and printed keypads for fax machines and label printers are two of the company's biggest growth areas. "The popularity of HD-TVs is creating more demand for silicone keypads on universal remote control devices," explains Assistant Sales and Marketing Manager Gloria Cheng.
Noting that as the life cycle of printed keypads is only about 2-3 years, she says there is a big replacement business. "Silicone keypads for automotive products, such as car audio systems, are also making headway," she adds. "We're also focusing on laser etching and the feel of the keypad as people want a softer touch and buttons that are easier to press."
Prices for Golden Power Rubber Products' basic keypads start at US$0.20 each FOB Hong Kong and rise to US$3.00 for larger-sized models with features such as laser etching. The company offers more than 1,000 product items in different categories.
"We produce high-quality products and we are able to meet diverse customer demands," says Ms Cheng, adding that OEM orders represent about 90%-95% of the company's business.
You Eal (HK) Ltd, founded in 1986, is an affiliate of Korea-based You Eal Electronics Co Ltd, which manufactures keypads for mobile phones, cordless phones, electronic dictionaries and car audio systems.
The company's plastic-plus-rubber (P+R) keypads, priced from US$1.50-2.00 each FOB Hong Kong, are among its best-selling models.
"This has been the trend for the last six months. Our new P+R keypads are less than 1mm thick. If you can make a thinner keypad, it means you can make a lighter mobile phone," explains Sales Representative Cozy Fong.
"The thin P+R keypad is what we're going to be focusing on for the next few years," he adds. "The main advantage of the P+R keypad is that it uses less tooling, so we can shorten the production time and lower the cost. Besides providing a flat plastic surface, we can also offer customers different choices, such as spin and hairline surface patterns."
Other types of keypads that the company produces include regular P+R keypads that are 6mm thick and priced at US$1.20-1.50 each; rubber keypads at US$0.80-1.00 each, and metal-plate keypads at US$2.50 each.
In recognition of its R&D achievements, You Eal gained the Hong Kong Electronic Industries Association's (HKEIA) Award for Outstanding Innovation and Technology in 1999, 2000 and 2001. In 2004, the company won the HKEIA Gold Award for its Electro Luminescence Keypad.
At Yan Chuen Co Ltd, quality and reliability are top priorities. The firm manufactures silicone rubber keypads that are used in such products as security keypads, remote controls, calculators and toys.
The company can meet client needs for multicoloured keypads, silk-screening, laser etching, PU coating, metallic colour coating and epoxy potting.
Keypads are rigorously tested to meet customer specifications for endurance, abrasion resistance and touch, says Sales Manager Kenneth Leung. "Yet, even though we have many kinds of keypads, our simplest models sell best." Keypad prices range from US$0.10 to as much as US$20.00 each FOB Hong Kong, depending on size and specifications.
Silicone rubber keypads account for half of Yan Chuen's production, while membrane keypads, essentially a thin plastic film with embossed buttons, are another popular category, representing 20% of the company's sales.
With exports targeted mainly at Europe and the US, Mr Leung says the company's sales are growing, with laser-etched keypads taking the lead.
As the form and functions of keypads continue to evolve, Hong Kong manufacturers strive to provide their customers with the best that the industry has to offer.
Text by Myra Dagwood
Golden Power Rubber Products Ltd
Year Established: 1987
Hoi Wah Rubber Industrial Co Ltd
Year Established: 1979
Luen Fung Silicone Rubber Mfg Co
Year Established: 1989
Year Established: 1999
|Yan Chuen Co Ltd
Unit 1404, Fo Tan Ind Centre
26-28 Au Pui Wan St, Fo Tan
New Territories, Hong Kong
Major Product Categories: silicone rubber keypads, rubber products, membrane keypads
Brands & Certificates: ISO 9001
Minimum Order: -
Monthly Production Capacity: 25,000 tons
Delivery Time: 14 days
Factory Size & Location 5,000 square metres; Shenzhen
Year Established: 1986