Membrane switches have become an increasingly popular alternative to conventional mechanical switches in recent years. Defined as an electrical switch consisting of a flexible material, they offer several key benefits. Unless you’re familiar with them, though, you might be wondering what benefits membrane switches offer over mechanical switches. Below, you’ll find the top five benefits of membrane switches.
#1) Moisture and Weather Resistance
Membrane switches offer a high level of moisture and weather resistance. This is in stark contrast to mechanical switches, which generally sustain damage when exposed to moisture. Membrane switches are designed with a top layer of waterproof material that covers all the keys. As a result, moisture isn’t able to enter the underlying circuitry. If you’re planning to use a switch outdoors or in other environments where moisture is a problem, you should consider choosing a membrane switch.
#2) Low Profile Design
In addition to being moisture and weather resistant, membrane switches have a low profile that consumes a minimal amount of space. To see an example of a low-profile membrane switch, take a look at the microwave in your kitchen. Nearly all microwaves are designed with a membrane switch for the control buttons, which are generally flush with the microwave’s housing.
#3) Tactile Feedback
While membrane switches typically produce less tactile feedback than mechanical switches, they can still produce noticeable tactile feedback to reduce the risk of typing and input errors. Tactile feedback is generally created by embossing the top layer of a membrane switch or by embedding snap dome keys under the top layer. Both solutions are highly effective at creating tactile feedback.
Membrane switches are very reliable. It’s not uncommon for a membrane switch to last for hundreds of thousands of key presses. This is because they use a simple yet effective design consisting of a top layer, a bottom layer and a middle spacer layer. Pressing a key forces the top layer into the bottom layer, allowing the membrane switch to register the command as a key press.
Membrane switches support a multitude of backlighting options. One of the most popular backlighting solutions for membrane switches is light-emitting diode (LED). LED backlightings is cost-effective, energy efficient and long-lasting. Other types of backlighting supported by membrane switches include optical fiber and electroluminescent (EL). Furthermore, membrane keypads can be laser etched to enhance the backlighting effect. These are just a few of the top benefits of membrane keypads.