Custom keyboards

Access IS manufactures highly reliable custom keyboards to satisfy customer-specific requirements and applications.custom-keyboard-images

A custom keyboard can be either designed from scratch, or based on one of Access’ wide range of existing keyboard designs, providing a fast time-to-market and reduced design costs. Smaller volume users may also opt to minimise their tooling charges by taking a machined modification of an existing keyboard molding. Base designs exist with between 48 and 127 keys, and are available with QWERTY and matrix layouts.

Keyboards are simple to programme using the Access-designed SoftProg programming software.

Custom keyboard considerations


The key switch

The key switch is at the heart of keyboard design and has a large influence on the reliability and ease of use of any keyboard device. The standard Access key switch has a full travel of 4mm, with operation occurring at half the travel length – specifications optimised for fast data entry and operator comfort.

Our technology is faster than membrane or elastomer switches, or touch screen devices. Standard key switches have gold contacts and a lifetime of over 50 million operations. Two-shot moldings are used for heavy-duty applications, where printed lettering is likely to wear.

Lower cost switches are also available for price sensitive applications.

Optimising keyboard layout and pre-programming

Reduced keysets provide compact keyboard designs providing less opportunity for operator error. Colour-coding, the use of double or quad keys and clear legends improve ease of use. Careful selection of key colours can significantly assist users with a visual disorder or those visually impaired.

Macros can be programmed into the keyboard so that they operate by a single key press, with a keytop legend identifying each function.

Programming utility

Access keyboards are programmed using the Access-developed, free-to-use programming utility, called SoftProg. Download the SoftProg Programming Utility.

Users can design and create their own key code settings and download them into the keyboard’s non-volatile memory. This code can be transferred to other keyboards in service, or can be passed back to our manufacturing facility to programme keyboards with the same code during the manufacturing process.

Read more about SoftProg (including utility download & instructions).

Language variants

Access sells to companies throughout the world and supplies many blue-chip multinationals that have operations in many different countries. Throughout its history Access has produced keyboards in every common language, in many regional languages and has provided many customer-specified key graphics to represent particular key functions.

We have extensive in-house facilities to design and manufacture various custom key types. Two-shot moulded and laser-etched keys provide legends that will not wear out with use, while printed keys provide a lower cost alternative. Each technology maintains the versatility of custom lettering and legends.

Integrated OCR and MSR readers

An increasingly common enhancement to customised keyboard design is to integrate combinations of magnetic stripe readers (MSRs) and optical character readers (OCRs) into the keyboard.

The integration of these devices into the keyboard body ensures a consistent workstation setup and enhances workstation ergonomics by maintaining the same position on the desk for operators. The integration also prevents the ‘borrowing’ of peripherals by other employees and reduces cable and desktop clutter. Reduced cabling simplifies installation.

Glide points, trackpoints and trackerballs

For applications where the use of an external mouse is not appropriate or required, or where desk space is scarce, a range of integrated mouse pointing devices is available. The most popular device for the custom keyboard is the touchpad, which can include left and right ‘mouse-click’ buttons. Alternatives include a pointing stick, which occupies a minimal amount of keyboard space, or trackerballs that offer afeel similar to a mouse.