Membrane Switches, Tactile and Non-Tactile

membrane switches

Membrane switches are electrical switches for turning a circuit on and off. It differs from a mechanical switch, which is usually made of copper and plastic parts. A membrane switch is a circuit printed on PET or ITO. The ink used for screen printing is usually copper, silver, and/or graphite filled and is therefore conductive.

Membrane switches are user equipment interface utilities that allow for the communication of commands from users to electronic devices. Membrane switches can be thought of as one category of interface utilities alongside touch screens, plastic keyboards, toggle switches and many other kinds of control systems. Interface utilities can be as simple as tactile switches for controlling lighting, and they can be as complicated as membrane keyboards and switch panels for use with computers.

A membrane switch typically has four or more layers. The top layer of a membrane switch is the graphic interface between the user and the machine. The other critical layer is a printed circuit. This can also be a flex circuit made of copper and polyimide material. The layers are normally assembled using pressure-sensitive adhesives. Contact between two traces can be made through a printed shorting pad or through a metal dome that stands on legs.

Classic applications of membrane switches include microwave oven panels, air conditioner control panels, TV remote controls, etc. The tactile feedback of keys can be provided by embossing the top PET layer or embedding metal snap domes, polyester domes or forming the graphic layer.

The benefits of membrane switches include ease of cleaning, sealing ability, and their low profile. Membrane switches can be used together with other control systems, such as touch screens, keyboards, and lighting. They can also be complicated like the membrane keyboards and switch panels in mobile phones and computers.

Membrane switches from Hallmark Nameplate can be specifically designed to meet your environmental considerations. Our switches are internally vented and sealed to protect your equipment from contaminants. Hallmark Nameplate’s membrane switches can also be provided with or without terminating connectors as well as:

  • LED Indicator Lights
  • Backlight (LED, fiber optic, EL)
  • Chemical and Weather Resistant
  • ESD/EMI/RFI Shielding
  • Various connector configurations

Tactile Switches
A tactile switch is an on/off electronic switch that is only on when the button is pressed, or if there is a definitive change in pressure. Another way to consider it, as momentary make or brake switch. As soon as a tactile switch button is released, the circuit is broken.

The main area of tactile switches are tact switches. Tact switches are tactile electromechanical switches for keyboards, keypads, instruments or interface control-panel applications. Tact switches react to user interaction with the button or switch when it makes contact with the control panel beneath. In most cases, this is usually a printed circuit board (PCB).

There are many different kinds of electronic Tactile Switches; there is a variety to select from. Some types that are available include:

  • Standard
  • Illuminated
  • Sealed
  • Key Tops
  • Surface Mount
  • Hinged

At Hallmark Nameplate, we are here to assess your needs and create the best, most functional membrane switches to suit your needs, with your budget in mind. Our offerings include a range of sizes and styles.

Typical tactile switch applications include low power, miniature devices, digital switching, and anything where operator feedback is required (with a switch confirmation coming from the switch being depressed).

Tactile switches are internally vented. As a result, you can expect a complete seal on your membrane switch. Additionally, our tactile switches are capable of more than one million actuations, making your options and functionality virtually seamless.

Non-Tactile Switches
The most reliable and economical membrane switch is the non-tactile type. However, they do not give the user direct feedback from the switch. Using an LED indicator or display change can sometimes overcome this drawback. Non-tactile switches also have the advantage of easily creating custom shapes and sizes of the active keypad areas.

Non-tactile switch types feature a robust construction. They’re completely sealed from the external environment. They are also more versatile than tactile switch types, with more than five million actuations.

At Hallmark Nameplate, you can rest easy knowing that your product will be developed by our in-house design and engineering staff from concept to completion.

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