When shopping for switching solutions, you may encounter printed circuit board (PCB) membrane switches. Like all membrane switches, they are defined by their use of a flexible material. PCB membrane switches feature one or more circuits that are placed on a flexible substrate. With that said, they aren’t necessarily the same as standard membrane switches. Below are five things you need to know about PCB membrane switches.

#1) Designed With a Copper-Clad Circuit Board

Most PCB membrane switches are designed with a copper-clad circuit board. It features copper-covered cloth or fiber-infused resin. The copper-clad circuit board contains all of the circuits for a PCB membrane switch. While there are different types of copper-clad circuit boards used in PCB membrane switches, FR-4 is the most common. It’s strong, durable, responsive and customizable. As a result, most businesses prefer FR-4 copper-clad circuit boards for their PCB membrane switches.

#2) Not the Same as Flex Membrane Switches

Contrary to popular belief, PCB membrane switches aren’t the same as flex membrane switches. Flex membrane switches are essentially a variation of PCB membrane switches. They are distinguished from their PCB counterparts by their use of a dielectric material. While PCB membrane switches have a fiber-based inner layer, flex membrane switches have a dielectric-based inner layer.

#3) Some Contain Gold

You might be surprised to learn that some PCB membrane switches contain gold. Gold ranks as the world’s third-most valuable precious metal. Aside from its high monetary value, though, it exhibits several properties that make it ideal for electrical applications like PCB membrane switches. Gold, for example, is highly conductive, and it’s also resistant to damage caused by temperature fluctuations.

#4) Backlighting Available

You can choose from one of several backlighting options when shopping for PCB membrane switches. Like standard membrane switches, they support backlighting. Light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs are often used for backlighting in PCB membrane switches. LED backlighting is energy efficient, long-lasting and provides ample illumination. Other backlighting options for PCB membrane switches include electroluminescent (EL) and optical fiber.

#5) Combines Multiple Technologies

PCB membrane switches combine many different membrane switch technologies together. They are designed with circuits on a flexible substrate, for instance. At the same time, PCB membrane switches feature multiple layers, including a copper-clad circuit board layer. Because they combine multiple membrane technologies, PCB membrane switches are considered more versatile than standard membrane switches.