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Membrane Switches

Overview

Expert recommendations and support to build a reliable membrane switch to meet your application standards.

Request a Quote

Please complete the form and upload any plans, drawings or other mocks ups available. 

Capabilities

Our advanced equipment can provide customized design features such as embedded LEDs, backlighting, transparent windows, and stainless steel overlays.

Duraswitch®

This switch technology offers many benefits, including the ability to thrive in harsh, abusive and rugged environments without compromising quality.

Assemblies

Assemblies combine two or more aspects of a design that allows the customer to simply plug-and-play to their equipment.

Membrane Switches

Printed Membrane Switches

Membrane switches, also known as membrane panels or keypads, are lightweight, all-in-one printed electrical circuits engineered to sustain millions of actuations. Membrane switches are constructed with layers of thin, flexible, and conductive materials rather than bulky, rigid materials, making them an optimal choice in most cases. 

  • Simple plug-and-play design eliminates need to rewire individual circuits.
  • Suitable for curved or irregular surfaces.
  • Intuitive operation promotes accuracy.
  • Improved speed and functionality.
  • Actuation reliability that often outlasts equipment.
  • Easily customized with colors, logos, sizes, and shapes.
  • Aesthetic and tactile qualities with backlighting options.
  • Sealed construction simplifies cleaning and protects from moisture and contaminants.
  • Compact profile, from 0.005 to 0.040 inches.

Switch Components

All membrane switches have at least five layers.MembraneSwitchBlowOutDescription

The graphic overlay, a membrane switch's top layer and point of human-machine interface, is typically made of polyester or polycarbonate. In addition to indicating user functions, overlay graphics can provide branding, asset management, compliance, and safety information. Membrane switch overlays are easily customizable.

A retainer layer is used to secure the placement of metal domes in tactile switches. 

A spacer layer allows for the switch's open position, so that a break in conductivity can occur. 

A circuit layer facilitates the flow of electricity. Its conductivity can result from the use of conductive inks or from conductive copper traces that appear when a flexible film substrate is etched away.

A rear adhesive layer mounts the complete membrane switch to the product it is intended to control. Because membrane switches must be mounted to units with varying surface types, selecting the right adhesive is an important design decision. 

MEMBRANE SWITCH DESIGN GUIDE

Request A Custom Membrane Switch Quote

We can manufacture a membrane switch according to your specifications. Our sales engineers are also available to guide you through the customization of a membrane switch that is ideal for your needs.

Get a Membrane Switch Quote

Customize Your Membrane Switch

Membrane Switch Options

Metal- or poly-dome and dome spacer layers are added to tactile switches, and a non-conductive shielding layer can be added whenever a higher level of insulation or resistance is needed.

Tactile membrane switches incorporate metal or polyester domes which, when pressed, give the feeling of pushing a button. Because this tactile response can provide a more satisfactory user experience, tactile switches are commonly used for security keypads, aircraft control panels, thermostats, and more. They have a lifespan of one million actuations.
 
Non-tactile membrane switches do not include a dome, and therefore they do not provide a physical response. They can be designed to trigger LEDs for status signaling. Non-tactile membrane switches can be activated up to five million times.
 

Shielding, often constructed with solid aluminum foil or by printing with carbon or silver ink, is used to eliminate electrostatic discharge, electromagnetic interference, or radio frequency interference.

Silicone rubber keypads or keyboards can be added to the overlays of membrane switches, touchscreens and other user-interface products. Because silicone rubber is moldable and can be compressed, it offers a comfortable, durable, tactile experience. Silicone rubber keypads are also waterproof and dust proof, and they can be designed with laser-etched graphics, high-gloss finishes, and other aesthetic features.

Backlighting options, such as LED, fiber optics, light guide film,, and electro-luminescense, can be added to membrane switches to provide a better user-experience.combines the best features of an electro-mechanical and a flat panel into a single, thin, and robust keypad that can reliably function in extremely harsh environments.

Client Applications 

In the Food Industry
Our industrial food client depended on reliable temperature control for food storage. They were specifically concerned about durability since the food storage area would be cleaned daily with high-pressure water hoses and chemicals. The Cubbison Company team helped them select a membrane switch design to meet the stringent National Electrical Manufacturer Association Level 4 (NEMA 4) standards.
 
Advancing Keypad Design

An industrial supply company needed a keypad designed to improve warehouse security. After consulting with Cubbison Company's engineers and walking through two prototype iterations, the client settled on a multi-color, polyester keypad that would respond well to touch, yet withstand high temperatures and environmental contaminants.

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Membrane Switch Circuit Options

Printed circuit layers use conductive inks, typically silver or copper, to facilitate the flow of electricity. Ink takes little to no space, so a printed membrane switch remains flexible and compact. Because substrates and inks have varied levels of conductivity and resistance, they are an important part of membrane switch design.

membraneswitch-sm-1The Cubbison Company offers two types of customizable flexible circuits: silver-flex and copper-flex.

Silver-flex circuits use silver inks as the circuit element, with the ink printed on flexible polyester layers. They are often ideal because they are:

  • flexible, affordable, and simple in design
  • available as tactile or non-tactile
  • customizable with backlighting and EMI/RFI shielding

Copper-flex circuits use a very thin layer of copper affixed to a flexible film substrate that, when etched away, exposes copper conductive traces. This structure accommodates complex and dense circuit patterns that are suitable for environments with excessive vibration or extreme temperature swings, including aerospace, medical, energy, and military applications.

Copper-flex circuits:

  • can accommodate complex or dense circuit patterns when stringent space and weight limitations exist
  • are affixed to circuit boards with soldering rather than an adhesive layer, making them useful in environments with excessive vibration and extreme temperature swings
  • provide stronger conductivity and lower electrical resistance
  • are easily customized as single- or double-sided, tactile or non-tactile, and with or without backlighting, shielding, and other options 

Duraswitch® technology helps create a thin and robust keypad that can reliably function in extremely harsh environments. Duraswitch utilizes two unique technologies, PushGate® and thiNcoder®, which increase longevity by eliminating the scraping, flexing, and grinding common to traditional membrane switches. 

Watch this brief video for an introduction to our membrane switch expertise.

Membrane Switch Design Guide

The Cubbison Company has created a 4-step design guide to help you maximize the quality, reliability, and efficiency of your membrane switch.

Download the free Membrane Switch Design Guide. From there, you can request a quote or contact our design engineers to discuss you project in more detail: salesengineer@cubbison.com or call (800) 733-4133.

Download Membrane Switch Design Guide
Membrane Switch Application in the Food Industry
Our industrial food client depended on reliable temperature control for food storage. They were specifically concerned about durability since the food storage area would be cleaned daily with high-pressure water hoses and chemicals. The Cubbison Company team helped them select a membrane switch design to meet the stringent National Electrical Manufacturer Association Level 4 (NEMA 4) standards.
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