All electrical switches are designed to control a circuit, but the way in which they perform this task varies depending on the type of switch. In recent years, membrane switches have become a popular choice because of their unique design. So, what is a membrane switch exactly, and why should you choose it instead of a conventional mechanical switch?
Overview of Membrane Switches
A membrane switch is a type of electrical switch that’s characterized by its conductive, flexible properties. Although there are exceptions, most membrane switches are printed on Polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or indium tin oxide (ITO) and contain conductive ink. This allows for a flexible texture that naturally deforms when the membrane switch, followed by reverting or “bouncing back” to its original shape after being released.
How Membrane Switches Differ From Mechanical Switches
Mechanical switches are also designed to control an electrical circuit. The difference between them and membrane switches, however, is that only the latter has a flexible texture. Because mechanical switches are made of metal and plastic materials, they are usually hard and stiff. This doesn’t necessarily affect the switch’s performance, but it may restrict their use in certain applications where flexibility is required.
Why Should I Choose a Membrane Switch?
Because of their flexible, conductive design, membrane switches offer a variety of benefits. They are typically smaller and more compact than mechanical switches, making them ideal for use in mobile and portable electronic devices. Membrane switches are also resistant to moisture, dirt and debris. They feature a strong seal around the outside that prevents the intrusion of moisture or containments that could otherwise damage the switch’s circuity.
Membrane switches also support backlighting. There are currently three main types of backlights used in membrane switches: light-emitting diode (LED), fiber optics and electroluminescent (EL). All three backlighting solutions can illuminate the membrane switch to improve its visibility and overall performance. With that said, fiber optics has become a popular backlighting solution for membrane switches because of its energy-efficient, long-lasting properties.
Even though the materials used in the construction of membrane switches are flexible, they are still incredibly strong and durable. They can be used indoors or outdoors without succumbing to degradation or damage.
With their flexible design, membrane switches offer an attractive alternative to conventional mechanical switches. If you’re a business owner who’s looking to purchase a switch — or hundreds of switches — you should consider this alternative switch type.