At its core and most basic function, a membrane switch is a momentary electrical contact on/off switch that activates or de-activates an electric circuit. These are sometimes called single pole, single throw, normally open (SPSTNO) switches. Membrane switches are manufactured by screen printing the circuit directly onto a plastic substrate with silver or carbon conductive ink. Its simple, versitale, durable, and economical design make it a superior alternative to the mechanical switch.
Membrane switches can be constructed with multiple circuit layers, and more elaborate graphic design features, such as domed key embossing. Designs that are more complex require more material layers for proper construction and reliable operation.
Membrane switches, when combined with components such as a tactile dome, graphic overlay, or integrated LEDs or resistors can provide the designer with virtually limitless capabilities to create the ideal custom user interface for their products.
Working with Sensigraphics for Membrane Switches
At Sensigraphics, our primary core competence is the custom design, engineering, and manufacturing of membrane switches, overlays, and control panels to cater to the unique interface needs of our clients.
Sensigraphics has the expertise in membrane switch design to help make sure your project is completed as efficiently as possible. Sensigraphics understands the need for a membrane switch that stands up to the harshest of environments and the durability requirements necessary for industrial applications. Our experienced engineers, excellent designs, and high quality manufacturing processes assure your membrane switch reliability. Let us prove to you that we are the best by requesting a Membrane Switch Quotation.
Components of a Membrane Switch
A membrane switch typically has the following basic layers:
- Graphic overlay with subsurface printed text/graphics,a polyester or polycarbonate layer with or without embossed keys
- ESD Shielding layer (optional)
- Spacer and/or Dome Retainer
- Polyester printed circuit layer
- Rear adhesive with liner
- Custom printing, logos and graphics
- Surface texture materials
- Custom shapes
- Backlighting (Fiber Optic or Electroluminescent)
- Multiple tactile dome options for tactile feedback or non-tactile option
- EMI / ESD / RFI shielding options (for electro-magnetic interference, electro-static discharge and radio frequency interference shielding)
- Embedded LEDs and/or resistors
- Multiple connector styles
- Normally environmentally sealed to keep incidental dust and moisture out
- Window lens coating
- Many more options are available
Some of the most common applications for a membrane switch include:
- medical equipment
- industrial control panels
- retail equipment
- household appliances
- consumer products
Household appliances like microwave ovens and stoves are operated by membrane switches. Vending machines, kiosks, exercise equipment, and gasoline pumps are other common retail/consumer applications. In industry, any manufacturing equipment can have a control panel with a membrane switch. Medical test equipment and HVAC controls are also good examples of uses for membrane switches.
Sensigraphics offers membrane switches that perform, with long life cycles and high durability. Our membrane switches come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials, but share these common features and benefits:
- Easy to use interface
- Easy to clean hard surface, resists moisture, abrasions
- Long life at low cost – the average switch life is 500,000 to 5,000,000 actuations
- Reliable, attractive, customized user interface
- Custom design flexibility – match with existing components, graphics, shape, color, branding
- Custom switch features – embedded LED, backlighting
- Short lead times
The graphic overlay surface or faceplate material is one of the main considerations in designing a custom membrane switch, with polycarbonate and polyester being the most commonly used materials. Polycarbonate is clearer, easier to fabricate and print but is less durable in constant use. Polyester is more challenging in its manufacturing, but is more durable and has better resistance to environmental conditions. Polycarbonate is slightly less expensive then polyester but the difference is minimal and not usually a major consideration. The choice should be made based on what works best with how and under what conditions the membrane switch will be used. Hard-coated materials are also available to reduce gloss/glare and provide added durability/scratch-resistance and chemical resistance. View our graphic overlay page for detailed information on these materials.
Sensigraphics’ Design and Manufacturing Process
Sensigraphics utilizes state of the art equipment, lean manufacturing techniques and principles to provide our customers with an exceptionally streamlined and efficient development process. We use established vector-based CAD software programs such as AutoCAD, Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw. Benefits of working with Sensigraphics include reduced lead times, higher quality control, and highly competitive costs. Click here to learn more.
Types of Membrane Switches from Sensigraphics
Sensigraphics offers a variety of membrane switches, including:
- Custom membrane switches
- Membrane switch panels
- Membrane switch keypads
- Membrane switch overlays
- Tactile membrane switches or Non-tactile membrane switches
Use our Secondary Assembly and Value-Added services
Customers who use our value-added services can:
- Get products to market faster
- Streamline the assembly process
- Boost bottom-line profitability
Learn more about Sensigraphics’ Secondary Assembly and Value-Added services.
How to Work with Sensigraphics for Custom Membrane Switches
Sensigraphics works with customers at various stages of their product development process, from design to prototype to production. Sensigraphics can offer design and engineering support for early-stage product development or can simply provide a quote for the desired quantities of fully-engineered and ready-to-manufacture membrane switches.
We recognize that each project is unique. With over 30 years of experience, our team of engineers and designers is dedicated to bringing expertise, innovation, and quality to each project and finished product.
Contact Sensigraphics for Custom Membrane Switches
Please complete the contact form for further assistance with custom membrane switches from Sensigraphics.