14 Jan 2004
Mobile Magic(HKTDC Electronic Components & Parts, Vol 01,2004)
Vol 1, 2004
You Eal (H.K.) Ltd
Mobile phone keypads are one of the main products of You Eal (H.K.) Ltd, which also produces components and parts for telecommunication devices, electronic toys and testing/measuring equipment
A simple synthetic organic polymer developed in the 1940s laid the foundation for the ongoing success of a leading local and regional electronics product manufacturer.
Silicone is still the major raw material used by You Eal (H.K.) Ltd for the design, development and production of a variety of components and parts for mobile phones, telecommunication devices, electronic toys and testing/measuring equipment.
Sales manager Samuel Cheung explains that You Eal has produced two basic types of products since its establishment in Korea two decades ago - various kinds of silicone keypads and conductive silicone inter-connectors.
"However, as technologies and innovations changed rapidly in the past 10-20 years, the usability, durability and functionality of our products have been greatly improved," he claims. "Although silicone remains the major raw material for our products, many new and value-added elements have been introduced."
You Eal has successfully developed lightweight, foldable keypads - with or without a metallic finish and epoxy coating - and can also offer various alternative materials such as natural, nitrile (NBR) and chloroprene rubber (CR) for the production of rubber parts.
The company's products are manufactured at sophisticated facilities in Korea, Hong Kong and the Chinese mainland that feature automatic production machines developed by its technical staff in Korea.
You Eal's 5,000-square-metre mainland plant in Shenzhen was established in 1994 and employs 350-workers to produce silicone keypads for a huge array of consumer electronics, including audio and video equipment, cordless phones, caller IDs, hand-held games, electronic toys, walkie-talkies and remote controls.
According to Cheung, around 95% of You Eal's business in Korea is the production of mobile phone keypads used by major telecommunications companies such as Samsung, LG and SK Telecom. Samsung also works closely with the company's dedicated R&D team to design and launch various kinds of keypads.
"From the first generation until today's seventh generation, our mobile phone keypads have undergone constant development," Cheung explains. "In our latest series of mobile phone keypads, which is still under development, we are trying to introduce electroluminescence (EL) backlights for better appearance."
Recently, You Eal has been developing smaller and lighter mobile phone keypads utilising the latest technology such as laser marking, plastic key tops, film insert lasers, elastomer/new elastomer films, rubber films, film inserts, film elastomers and hard epoxy key tops, as well as transparent metallic and negative printing.
You Eal's designers have successfully developed a 0.15 +/-0.05mm Special Assembly (SA) keypad that reduces the space between the keypad buttons to ensure the practical area of each mobile phone keypad is more compact while functionality is enhanced - especially for composing short messages.
"Now we are also trying to make use of aluminium film in our eighth generation of mobile phone keypads," Cheung adds. "It gives a shiny, elegant look to the keypads."
You Eal also manufactures conductive silicone inter-connectors, which are used to establish contact between LCDs and PCBs in various applications including LCD modules and electronic products such as LCD watches, calculators, hand-held games, databanks and MP3 players.
Currently 50% of You Eal's orders for conductive silicone inter-connectors come from Hong Kong, around 30% are from the mainland and the remaining 20% are supplied to US and European customers.
You Eal stays competitive by closely tracking new trends and designs, placing strong emphasis on stringent quality control, being "very flexible" on prices and minimum order quantities and "very punctual" regarding product delivery.
"We also have TL 9000 and ISO 9001 certification and our products have been granted the Hong Kong Electronic Industries Association Award for Outstanding Innovation and Technology Products for three consecutive years in 1999, 2000 and 2001," Cheung concludes.
WRITTEN BY MARGARET CHAN