Apple Inc. (Cupertino, CA)

Methods to assemble low-profile, singulated keyboards through prefabrication of key assemblies on the chassis strip which is broken down into individual key assemblies only after the substrate is attached to a feature plate on the keyboard. For example, a row of key assemblies is constructed on the chassis strip. The row corresponds to a partial or complete row of keys that are part of the keyboard. After attaching the chassis strip to the featureplate at a certain location, each prefabricated key assembly is aligned to that spot on the plate. While connected, each key assembly is fixed separately to the feature plate. The interconnecting sections of the chassis strip which connect the prefabricated key assemblies to the feature plate are taken off. This lets each key assembly be singulated.

The keyboard is a device utilized to input data from users to electronic devices. It’s possible to make an entire keyboard using components that are attached to a common substrate. This is referred to as a featureplate. A component of a keyboard could comprise a key assembly that comprises many interconnected, discrete pieces positioned below the keycap.

Reliably and quickly fabricating components of a keyboard may be a challenge, especially for keyboards incorporating components made of tiny or intricate components. This means that it could be time-consuming and/or resource intensive to manufacture akeyboard incorporating certain components, such as intricate key assemblies.

The embodiments described herein are related to, include, or can be described as an approach to manufacturing keyboards that include at minimum the process of: making the first key assembly on a primary chassis of a chassis strip; making an additional key assembly on a second chassis from the chassis strip putting the chassis strip onto a feature plate; attaching the first and the second chassis on the feature plate and then removing the interconnecting parts of the chassis strip which divide the first and second chassis.

Certain embodiments may comprise the following steps: molding the switch housing onto the chassis that is first while putting the key mechanism above the switch house and energizing the key mechanism by using the chassis strip; placing the buckling dome inside the switch housing; and engaging the buckling by using the chassis strip.

A variety of embodiments permit the alignment of the first and/or last key assemblies with an aperture made by an electronic device housing. In these examples, the key assemblies may extend at least partially through the apertures. In many cases the apertures could be connected with rows or grids of apertures, but this is not always required.

Sometimes, the process to build a key mechanism can also include the creation of retaining features onto the respective chassis. Retaining elements can be bent to form spring armatures that can be used with key assemblies, for instance keycaps and key mechanisms. In other cases the retaining feature could be designed to work with the buckling dome.

One possible embodiment could include an arrangement in which attaching the first chassis on the featureplate involves connecting the first key assembly to the circuit for electrical power on the featureplate.

Other embodiments are described and could be viewed as a method for manufacturing a keyboard. This involves the following operations: positioning a chassis strip on a featureplate; attaching the chassis strip onto the feature plate; and attaching each prefabricated key assembly to the feature plate. Other operations include removing interconnecting components from the chassis strip.

Additional embodiments are described in the document. They comprise the following: Selecting the panelized substrate, and then populating it with prefabricated row key assemblies; affixing the panelized substrate onto a feature plate of the keyboard and aligning each row prefabricated prefabricated keys assemblies with feature plate attaching each row of key assemblies from the row to the featureplate and then depanelizing the panelized substrate to singulate the key assemblies that are on the feature plates.

Certain embodiments could include a method of depanelizing the substrate consists of taking out the interconnecting parts of the panelized substrate in between each key assembly of the row of key assemblies.

Additional embodiments are described in this document, which include a row interconnected key assemblies. These embodiments include the chassis for each key assembly within the row. The chassis has an initial retaining feature as well as another feature for retaining. The chassis also has an enclosure for the switch as well as a key mechanism within the switch housing that is connected to the first retention feature. A buckling dome within an opening in the switch housing is included. This second retaining feature is also connected to the switch housing. These embodiments show that every chassis that is part of each key assembly in the key assembly row can be connected to at minimum one other chassis by an interconnecting part.

In these embodiments, at a minimum, one key assembly of the key assemblies row is further equipped with an optical film placed over the switch housing.

Still further examples described herein refer to keyboards that include at least the housing that has apertures in a grid, as well as a feature plate placed within the housing. The feature plate is able to accommodate an array of light emitting diodes that are arranged in relation to each of the aperture grid. Key assemblies in a row is also part of the keyboard. A minimum of one of the key assemblies in the row includes an assembly that is connected to the featureplate by a light emitting diode. The key assembly also includes a switch housing formed on the chassis, and optically connected to the one light emitting diode. The key assembly also includes an optical film that is set on top of the switch housing, and is optically linked to the housing of the switch. This creates an optical path from the light emitting device to the switch housing to the optical film.

Additional embodiments are discussed in this article, which include a keyboard with at least one feature plate. In these instances, a row of key assemblies are coupled to the feature plate. The row of key assemblies includes a first key assembly positionedimmediately adjacent to a second key assembly. The key assembly in the first and the second key assembly are separated by the distance defined by an interconnecting component. In these instances the interconnecting piece is movable.

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