Are you looking to buy a membrane switch? There’s no denying the fact that membrane switches have become a popular alternative to mechanical switches. Characterized by the use of a flexible substrate on which one or both contacts are placed, they offer several benefits. Membrane switches last longer, offer better ergonomics and support a deeper level of customization.
You should consider the material used in a membrane switch’s construction. All membrane switches are made of a flexible material. After all, that’s what distinguishes them from mechanical switches. ASTM International specifically defines membrane switches as being an electrical switch that contains one or both contacts on a flexible substrate. Therefore, they require the use of a flexible material.
Don’t forget to consider backlighting when choosing a membrane switch. Membrane switches support several different backlighting solutions. Some of them use electroluminescent (EL) backlighting. EL backlighting uses phosphor compounds to produce illumination. When exposed to an electrical current, the phosphor compounds illuminate the membrane switch from behind.
Other membrane switches use light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting. LED backlighting offers greater energy efficiency than EL backlighting. The downside is that LED backlighting is more likely to create bright spots. You can mitigate the risk and severity of bright spots, however, by choosing a membrane switch with optical fiber. Optical fiber is used to distribute the LEDs illumination evenly across the membrane switch’s keys and buttons.
Depending on the application or applications for which you intend to use it, you may want to choose a membrane switch with tactile feedback. Tactile feedback is a physical sensation or force created by a device — including membrane switches — in response to an input command. It’s used to verify that a device recognized a command.
Membrane switches can be customized to achieve specific levels of tactile feedback. In the medical industry, membrane switches are often customized with a low level of tactile force but a high level of tactile feel. Even if you work in a different industry, you may want to customize your membrane switch with a specific level of tactile feedback.
Something else to consider when choosing a membrane switch is moisture resistance. If a membrane switch offers little or no protection against moisture, it may sustain damage when used in humid environments.
Moisture resistance isn’t necessary for all membrane switches. If you’re planning on using a membrane switch indoors where the air is dry, you may not need moisture resistance. For other, more humid environments, though, you should probably choose a moisture-resistant membrane switch.