Keyboards play an instrumental role in the function of modern-day computers and other electronic devices. In the most basic sense, they allow human operators to control electronic devices through typing. There are several different types of keyboards, however, with the two most common being mechanical and membrane. Today, we’re going to take a closer look at membrane keyboards, revealing how they work, as well as their advantages and disadvantages.

Overview of Membrane Keyboards

Membrane keyboards are characterized by the use of keys that are pressure pads with symbols printed on them. This is in stark contrast to a mechanical keyboard, which features separate and individual keys. Because of their design, membrane keyboards are smaller and more compact than their mechanical counterpart.

A typical membrane keyboard consists of three layers: a top membrane layer, an inert middle layer, and a bottom membrane layer. Beneath these layers is conductive traces, which are responsible for triggering the command when a user presses a key.

More specifically, there are two variations of membrane keyboards. There’s a flat key design in which the keys are printed on the same pressure pad. And there’s also a dome switch design that uses rubber domes to mimic the tactile feedback of a mechanical keyboard. Nonetheless, both types are considered membrane keyboards because they have a single, soft rubber-like layer instead of individual keys with separate parts.

Advantages of Membrane Keyboards

There are several advantages to using a membrane keyboard, one of which is the simple fact that they are smaller and more compact than mechanical keyboards. Because of their slim design, they can often be used in applications where mechanical keyboards cannot reach. Furthermore, membrane keyboards are also quiet, producing little-to-no noise during use.

And because they don’t feature separate moving parts for the keys, membrane keyboards typically have a longer lifespan than their mechanical counterpart. These are just a few advantages of using a membrane keyboard.

Disadvantages of Membrane Keyboards

Of course, there are also some disadvantages to using a membrane keyboard, one of which is the lack of tactile feedback. Mechanical keyboards produce tactile feedback naturally. When you press a key, it automatically springs back up — and this springing action is essentially a form of tactile feedback. Unfortunately, membrane keyboards don’t produce this same spring-like action; therefore, they offer little-to-no tactile feedback. Additionally, cleaning a membrane keyboard can be difficult since the keys aren’t separate moving parts.