Membrane switches are used in a variety of applications. Like traditional electrical switches, they control the flow of electricity in a circuit by supporting an open and closed state. When the circuit is open, electricity cannot flow, thereby rendering the device to which it’s connected inoperable. When the circuit is closed, however, electricity flows freely. But membrane switches are unique and different from traditional electrical switches. In this post, we’re going to reveal five facts about membrane switches that you need to know.
#1) Multiple Backlighting Options
Membrane switches support several different backlighting options. Light-emitting diode (LED) is a popular backlighting solution for membrane switches because its energy efficient, long lasting and available in multiple configurations. There’s also fiber optics backlighting, which is more resilient to extreme temperatures than LED. Finally, there’s electroluminescent backlighting, which is a low-cost solution that lasts for about 3,000 to 8,000 hours.
#2) Flexible Substrate
The defining characteristic of membrane switches is that they are designed with a contact made of a flexible substrate. What does this mean exactly? Basically, it means that membrane switches have a soft, rubbery texture. As a result, they are a popular choice for use in applications like remote controls and human machine interfaces (HMIs). The soft texture create a more comfortable switch that minimizes stress and press on the user’s fingers.
#3) Four Layers
Although there are exceptions, most membrane switches feature at least four layers. The top layer consists of a graphic interface, while an underlying layer is a printed circuit. Pressing the button causes the membrane switche’s layers to make contact, essentially completing the circuit.
#4) Conductive Ink
Most membrane switches also feature a printed circuit consisting of conductive ink. Whether it’s copper, silver or graphite, conductive ink is used to create the switch. Conductivity is important because it allows the membrane switch to create an open or closed circuit. If the ink wasn’t conductive, it wouldn’t be able to complete this process, thereby rendering the switch useless.
#5) Low Profile
A benefit of using a membrane switch that’s often overlooked is its low profile. Most traditional switches have a tall profile, making them unsuitable for certain applications. Because they are designed with conductive ink on a flexible substrate, however, membrane switches don’t suffer from this problem. Their low profile makes them a versatile option for a variety of applications, including both commercial and consumer applications. Furthermore, their sealed design allows them to withstand environmental conditions like moisture and humidity.