FiberopticsBacklighting is a key component used in all types of membrane keypads. Without it, the buttons will remain dark, dim and difficulty to see — let alone use. Thankfully, there are several different solutions available for backlighting, including fiber optics. So, what is fiber optics and how exactly is it used to illuminate membrane keypads?

How Fiber Optics Works

The term “fiber optics” refers to a relatively new type of telecommunications cabling. Unlike coaxial or other commonly used data cables, fiber optics is made of thin fibers of glass or a similar material through which light signals propagate. Each fiber of glass is roughly the same size in diameter as a strand of human hair. When these fibers are bunched together, light may travel through the fiber optics cable faster and more easily than standard cable.

While fiber optics is often used for transmitting data, it can also be used as backlighting source. Going back to the basic characteristics of this cable, fiber optics uses light beams to transmit data — but these light beams may also be used for the purpose of illumination, such as the case involving membrane switches and keypads. The light source is typically produced by a light-emitting diode (LED) bulb or bulbs, at which point it is distributes through the glass or plastic fibers under the keypads graphic overlay.

Benefits of Fiber Optics Backlighting

You might be wondering what (if any) benefits there are to using fiber optics backlighting in your membrane switches and keypads. Well, one of the greatest benefits if energy efficiency. A typical LED used in conjunction with fiber optics backlighting required just 20 to 50 mA of power, which is far less than other backlighting options.

Another benefit of using fiber optics backlighting is its exceptionally long life. Because they use LEDs, you can expect them to last MUCH longer than incandescent or similar light sources. In fact, a typical LED will run for nearly 100,000 hours before it must be replaced. This long life is reason enough for many people to choose fiber optics over alternative backlighting methods.

You can learn more about fiber optics backlighting by visiting