29 Sept 2006
Keypads(HKTDC Electronic Components & Parts, Vol 04,2006)
|Best Rubber Product Ltd makes keypads using silicone rubber from Japan and Thailand and exports them under the Best Rubber brand|
The key to successful electronic appliances is good parts and components, including keypads - and Hong Kong manufacturers play a pivotal role supplying leading brands to world markets.
For example, Best Rubber Product Ltd sells its keypads worldwide under the Best Rubber brand, with its biggest markets being the US and Europe.
"We are one of very few manufacturers in the world who specialise in providing one-stop solutions for conductive silicone rubber keypads, membrane switches and alloy/plastic back panels," says executive manager Ivy Tam.
Best Rubber has a portfolio that includes a laser-etched conductive silicone rubber keypad with pre-moulded coloured keys and a glossy PU coating. "The PU coating makes the backlit keys abrasion and oil resistant," says Tam.
A conductive pearl-coloured silicone rubber keypad features epoxy potting, with evenly distributed pearl-coloured spray droplets. "The epoxy potting provides a shiny finish to the keys," Tam notes, adding the item is intended for use with telecommunications devices.
"We have 20 years' experience in the conductive keypad business," she says, adding that the company's keypads have a lifespan ranging from 500,000 to 10,000,000 uses. "They are made from silicone rubber from Japan and Thailand, are RoHS Directive compliant and FDA, LMBG and DGCCRF approved."
Production takes place at the company's ISO 9001-certified, 12,000-square-metre, 500-worker factory in Dongguan on the Chinese mainland. Minimum order requirements of 5,000 units are usually shipped 2-3 weeks following order confirmation.
Apart from manufacturing keypads according to customers' designs, Best Rubber can also draw up designs. "Our R&D, design and engineering teams are well-equipped to provide support, enhancement and testing for customers," Tam says.
Among the latest products from Yan Chuen Co Ltd is a laser-etched PU keypad with 18 keys and a matt PU coating. "The letters and symbols on the keys are laser-etched," says sales manager Ivy Cheung. "The item can be used for various devices, including mobile phones, and it sells for US$1 each FOB Hong Kong."
Other models sport different features, such as silver and glossy PU coatings, translucent bases, grey bases, multi-colour printing and coloured key inserts.
Yan Chuen also produces keypads with RoHS-compliant materials, including silicone rubber compounds and PET sheets from Japan as well as PC sheets from the US. "Overall, our keypads are for security products, computers, equipment panels, TV remote controls, mobile phones and indoor wireless phones," Cheung says.
Set up in 1992, Yan Chuen turns out about 25,000 kg of silicone rubber keypads a month at its ISO 9001-certified, 50,000-square-metre, 200-worker factory in Shenzhen on the mainland. The minimum order value is approximately US$5,000, with a lead time of 14 days. The US and Europe form the firm's major markets, and account for 60% of turnover.
Meanwhile, Golden Power Rubber Product Ltd produces keypads from silicone rubber materials from Japan. "We source our materials from Shin-Etsu and Toshiba," says deputy general manager Wendy Chan, adding that the firm manufactures keypads for items as diverse as Dymos and remote controls to printers and payment terminals.
"Our products have added value," she says. "For example, some have undergone abrasion tests, while other items have special coatings."
Founded in 1987, the company runs an ISO 9001-certified, 360-worker factory in Dongguan on the mainland. Minimum order is 10,000 units, and the lead time is 1-2 weeks after order confirmation.
"About one-quarter of our business comes from buyers in the US," Chan says, "while we also export keypads to Europe and Asia."
Added value is also evident in the products of MNR Technology (HK) Ltd, as exemplified by a mobile phone keypad with a plastic thin film (PTF), made using the company's patented PTF technology for bonding an injection-moulded keypad to a very thin and flexible plastic film.
"The thin-film design (0.12mm) minimises the cross-section within the phone housing, bridges the large opening in the housing and provides a supple responsive tactile function," says president Christopher Wolfe. "This keypad is used in bridgeless, cellular phone applications."
Among other models are keypads with epoxy keytops for use in highly-abrasive environments. "The soft epoxy keytop provides exceptional protection from abrasion, a high-quality appearance and a better feel for the operator," Wolfe explains.
This manufacturer also supplies embossed, flat, tactile membrane switches, as well as fully- integrated assemblies comprising keypads, LCDs, LEDs and electronics interfaces.
MNR produces 20-30 tonnes of silicone rubber keypads a month, using silicone rubber, ABS, PC and polyester from the US, Japan, Korea, Taiwan and the mainland. It operates four ISO 9001-certified factories in Dongguan, with a total area of 25,000 square metres and a combined workforce of 2,200.
The minimum order value is US$4,000 per shipment, with delivery expected 4-6 weeks after order confirmation. The company's biggest market is North America, accounting for 40% of its sales, while Europe and Asia each take up about 25%.
With their rich variety, high quality and competitive pricing, keypads available from Hong Kong can meet even the highest customer requirements.
WRITTEN BY LIZA LEE
Golden Power Rubber Product Ltd
Flat C, 20/F, Blk 1, Tai Ping Ind Centre
57 Ting Kok Rd
Tai Po, New Territories