All about membrane switches
The first real membrane switches came to market in the early 1980s. But like many innovations, when they were first introduced they were believed to be less efficient. Material was brittle and they were considered a cheap solution because the switch and keyboard didn’t cost very much to manufacture. However, membrane switches and keyboards have undergone many improvements and today are used in a myriad of electronic devices because they have a sturdy user interface. They offer various advantages to the end user and have become indispensable in many industries.
You’re probably familiar with membrane switches on calculators, remote controls, and electronic locks. In contrast to mechanical switches that contain copper and plastics, membrane switches consist of several layers of printed circuits on film. They come in tactile and non-tactile forms that many industries have benefited from, particularly because membrane switches take up less space than their mechanical alternatives.
Tactile Membrane Switches
Tactile membrane switches are most commonly used because they deliver feedback to the user after being pressed. The buttons on the switch have a graphic overlay that has symbols or icons, such as the numbers on a keypad. A tactile membrane switch contains metal domes that push against a conductive footprint when the user presses on the buttons; this spurs an action.
The medical, aerospace or transportation industries have adapted tactile membrane switch technology into their devices because it allows for a smaller amount of components, can be integrated into portable devices, and is lightweight with optimal visibility.
As an example, you will find membrane switch technology throughout medical facilities, including: