Membrane switches have become a popular alternative to traditional mechanical switches. They still serve the same purpose by controlling a circuit. Membrane switches, however, are defined by their use of an elastic material. While you’ve probably heard of membrane switches, you can’t believe everything you read or hear. Below are five common myths about membrane switches.
#1) Only Features 2 Layers
Most membrane switches aren’t made of just two layers. Rather, they typically have four layers — with some membrane switches featuring even more layers. There’s the top graphic layer, followed by a spacer layer, a printed circuit layer and a backlighting layer. Each of these layers plays a critical role in the function of a membrane switch.
#2) Made of the Same Materials as Mechanical Switches
Membrane switches aren’t made of the same materials as mechanical switches. As previously mentioned, they are defined by their use of an elastic material. Mechanical switches are typically made of hard plastic, as well as copper for the conductive parts. In comparison, membrane switches are made of an elastic material like polyethylene terephthalate (PET), as well as ITO for the conductive parts.
#3) Susceptible to Moisture Damage
All types of switches can sustain damage if their embedded circuits are exposed to moisture. With that said, membrane switches offer a higher level of protection against moisture damage than that of mechanical switches. They are designed with an elastic material, which acts as a seal around the embedded circuits. Even if a membrane switch is exposed to moisture, it should continue to work. The elastic material will block any moisture from reaching the embedded circuits.
#4) Poor Efficiency
Membrane switches do, in fact, consume energy. However, that doesn’t necessarily mean they are inefficient. Membrane switches can be designed so that they consume very little energy. Most of the energy consumed by a membrane switch comes from its backlighting. If you’re looking to conserve energy, you can opt for a membrane switch with light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting. LED backlighting is highly energy efficient, thus it consumes less energy than other types of backlighting.
#5) Not Popular
Membrane switches are very popular. You’ll often find them in doctors’ offices as well as hospitals. Membrane switches are also used in aerospace control systems, industrial machines, consumer products and more. With so many potential applications, membrane switches have become a popular switching solution — and they will likely remain popular for many years to come.