When researching optional features for membrane switches, you may come across embossing. Membrane switches are used in countless consumer and commercial electrical applications. They feature multiple layers that are laminated together to achieve a thin interface for a given device. While most membrane switches feature many of the same layers — membrane overlay, spacer, printed circuit, adhesive and tail filler — some of them come with embossing.
Embossing is the process of raising the surface of a membrane switch. Membrane switches, of course, are typically flat. They feature a membrane overlay, which is the outermost layer. The membrane overlay is flat by default. Embossing, however, will transform the physical properties of the membrane overlay so that it becomes raised or textured. Embossing is a manufacturing technique that involves raising the surface of the membrane overlay.
Types of Embossing for Membrane Switches
There are different types of embossing available for membrane switches. One of the most common is pad. Pad embossing lives up to its namesake by featuring a pad-like shape. Membrane switches typically feature buttons. With pad embossing, these buttons are raised to achieve the shape of a pad.
There’s also dome embossing. Dome embossing is similar to pad embossing, but it allows for a taller key height. And there’s rim embossing. Rim embossing is used to achieve a textured, raised perimeter around the edges of a membrane switch’s keys.
The Benefits of Embossing for Membrane Switches
What’s the purpose of embossing for membrane switches? Without embossing, the buttons will be completely flat and flush with the membrane overlay. You can still press the buttons, but you may have trouble finding them. Embossing makes the buttons on a membrane switch easier to use. Even if you aren’t looking at the membrane switch, you can still find the buttons by running your fingers across the membrane overlay. Upon reaching a button, you’ll feel the raised surface of the embossed membrane overlay.
Embossing also creates a tactile response. You’ll feel the buttons respond to your commands. Without embossing, you’ll have to rely on other forms of tactile response, such as vibrations.
Because it creates a tactile response, embossing promotes higher input accuracy. You’ll have an easier time finding and pressing the right buttons on a membrane switch if it features embossing. The end result is fewer typos and a higher overall input accuracy. These are just some of the benefits of embossing for membrane switches.