9 Questions to Ask When Designing a Membrane Switch

Posted by Casey Cephas | 1/8/21 9:00 AM

When you watch someone who has mastered their craft – whether it’s artistic, athletic, or another endeavor – the performance can seem effortless. Of course, what you don’t see is the countless hours of work to make the complex appear simple.

We like this metaphor for membrane switches. When used in the final product, what you see is an easy-to-use, reliable interface. But achieving that simplicity requires meticulous planning and precise execution.

During the design process of a membrane switch, several essential components need to be accounted for, and optional features can enhance the final product. If you need help getting started, here are some questions we ask clients when developing a membrane switch. 

  1. What is the size and shape of the user interface?

Determining precise dimensions is critical to ensuring adequate room for switch circuitry, components for each layer, and sealing.

  1. What function does the membrane switch need to perform?

Consulting with your manufacturing partner early in the design process will not only help to make sure the circuitry is designed correctly but also to optimize trace layout to minimize costs.

  1. Do you need a tactile or non-tactical switch?

Tactile membrane switches have raised input button areas, and a mechanism creates the “click” of a mechanical key. If a tactile switch is needed, is there a desired actuation force?

  1. Do you need any windows or cutouts in the overlay?

Clear or transparent windows can be placed over backlighting or other display features. Cutouts can be arranged for mounting hardware or accessories.

  1. Is your product exposed to environmental factors or other durability concerns?

The graphic overlay can be enhanced with hard coatings, films, and textures. These can be good options for UV or scratch resistance.

  1. What surface is the switch attaching to?

A low or high surface energy may factor into material selection and design. Identifying the surface helps determine the proper mounting adhesive.

  1. What are the tail location and connection method?

While the switch can be built to existing specifications, it can be more cost-efficient if there’s design flexibility.

  1. Is shielding required?

Shielding materials can be incorporated to prevent disturbances from electrostatic discharge (ESD), electromagnetic interference (EMI), and radio frequency interference (RFI).

  1. Any specific graphic or branding requirements?

Screen or digital printing can create a graphic overlay that is attractive and helpful for the end-user.

Moving from Concept to Production

As you can see, designing a simple membrane switch is easier said than done. At Tapecon, we have extensive experience designing, testing, and manufacturing high-quality membrane switches for a wide range of devices. By getting involved early in the process, we can help you avoid common issues and improve the manufacturability of your product interface.

Get started with membrane switches.

At Tapecon, we have over 100 years of experience helping customers solve their complex product challenges. Learn more about our membrane switch applications.

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Topics: Manufacturing, Membrane Switch

Written by Casey Cephas

Casey is the Marketing Coordinator at Tapecon Inc.

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