When shopping for membrane switches, you might be wondering whether you need shielding. All membrane switches, of course, are circuit-controlling devices that contain at least one electrical contact on a flexible substrate. They are made by pressing together multiple, thin layers. While all membrane switches share a similar multilayered design, though, only some of them have shielding.
Overview of Shielding
Shielding is a feature that’s designed to protect membrane switches from electrical damage. Whether mechanical or membrane, all switches are “guide” electricity. They feature conductive pathways that can either allow or prohibit electricity from traveling through them. But electricity can also damage certain components of switches. Shielding is available, however, to prevent this from happening.
Electrostatic discharge is a common form of electrical damage to which switches are susceptible. You may touch a switch’s button while inadvertently passing static electricity from your body to the switch. Without shielding, the switch may fail. Shielding protects critical components of membrane switches from electrostatic discharge and other forms of electrical damage.
How Shielding Works
Now that you know the purpose of shielding for membrane switches, you might be wondering how it works. All shielding consists of some type of solution that’s designed to protect against electrical damage. But there are a few different types of shielding.
One of the most common types of shielding for membrane switches is foil. Foil shielding consists of a thin foil layer. The foil layer is typically made of laminated aluminum. It’s placed in front of sensitive components in membrane switches so that they are better protected against electrical damage.
Some membrane switches feature printed shields. Printed shields, as the name suggests, are printed on the circuit itself. They are available in different materials. Printed shields may be made of aluminum, or they may be made of carbon or silver.
It’s important to note that shielding doesn’t actually block electricity. While the term “shielding” implies that it does, in fact, block electricity, it uses a different method to protect membrane switches from electrical damage. Shielding is designed to absorb electricity. There are different types of shielding for membrane switches, but they are all made of a conductive material.
If a membrane switch is exposed to static electricity or any other form of unwanted electricity, the conductive shielding will absorb it. The membrane switch’s sensitive components will be left untouched and unaffected by the electricity thanks to the shielding.