What’s more important – style or substance? If you’re talking about membrane switches, it’s actually a trick question because you can have both, thanks to the graphic overlay. Allow us to explain why this hardworking component of a membrane switch is way more than just a pretty face.
What does the graphic overlay do in a membrane switch?
The graphic overlay is the top layer of a membrane switch, which is commonly called the faceplate. A well-designed and produced graphic overlay not only improves the appearance of the interface but also makes the final product easier to operate and improves the user experience.
Graphic overlays can be as basic or intricate as you need. Here are four common design considerations and “bells and whistles” that can set your graphic overlay (and final product) apart.
Graphics and branding
Based on its name, it should be no surprise that the graphic overlay is where the membrane switch’s printed features appear. Using either screen or digital printing methods, graphic overlays can feature photo-quality graphics using unlimited colors. Graphics can be designed to create:
Text, indicators, and instructions
Buttons, key shapes, and callouts
Gradients or backgrounds to resemble device surfaces
Branding and decorations
Textures and coatings
Depending on the product and the environment where it’s used, you can add various finishes and coatings to improve usability, durability, or appearance.
Textures or gloss finishes
Laminates to protect against liquids, chemicals, etc.
Hard coatings for scratch or UV resistance
Anti-microbial film for medical environments
Embossing is a converting process that uses special tools to raise specific areas of the graphic overlay. There are two common embossing techniques for membrane switches.
Pillow emboss – Used to create a key or button with a tactile feedback mechanism below the raised area
Rim emboss – Typically uses for decorative purposes such as a border around a printed logo
Windows and cutouts
Windows and cutouts are two converting techniques to achieve a custom membrane switch.
A window is typically used to view LCD, LEDs, indicator lights, or other functional features. A clear or transparent material or lens is positioned in the viewing area to protect the internal components.
A cutout is a hole in the overlay, generally to accommodate displays, lens, mounting screws, or other hardware.
Custom converting for graphic overlays
Creating the optimal graphic overlay for a membrane switch calls for both engineering know-how and production capabilities. At Tapecon, we have the experience to take your graphic overlay from concept to completion – all in our ISO certified and FDA registered facility.
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.