How to Repair Membrane Switches
Invest in Quality Materials
Before you even begin the repair process for your company’s membrane switches, it’s important to recognize steps that can prevent issues from occurring in the first place. Investing in the right materials, and finding a reliable manufacturer will both help to prevent problems down the road. It’s also vital to ensure that you have the right tools on hand before starting any job, and this is especially true when it comes to repairing your membrane switches. If you’re looking for Membrane Switches in Texas, then look no further then Golden Valley Products.
What is a Membrane Switch?
A membrane switch is a type of electrical switch that activates and deactivates an electrical circuit, thus turning it on or off. They are most often used to communicate a user’s command and carry out tasks. For instance, the buttons on your microwave use membrane switches to communicate the time, intensity, and type of heating style you’d like to use for warming your food. In this case, the circuit actuation is completed when the user (you) push against a specific location (the numbers on your microwave) on the Graphic Overlay (the outer casing of your microwave), which is then pushed all the way to and through the printed electronic below, which communicate the desired result to the rest of the circuit board to execute the intended function. When you remove your finger from the button, the membrane switch key is then released, separating the circuit poles and returning the circuit to its neutral open state.
Typically, a membrane switch is made with a thin membrane layer (usually a polyester material, though there are options for harsher environments or more wear) so that the tactile sensation of a user pushing or pressing against the sensor can be accurately communicated through the material. This thin film protects the membrane, while still allowing the user to effectively communicate through the material. To keep the membrane switch as slim as possible, the circuit board is printed in conductive inks- this is a key difference between the Membrane Switches at Golden Valley Products and the average copper etched printed circuit boards. Printed circuit boards are not only more flexible, but also provide a better cost advantage and shorter lead time than copper etched printed circuit boards.
Membrane switches can provide numerous responses in the switches themselves to help ease user-interface interactions. Flat and non-tactile keys are great for sleek designs, while metal domes or buttons that produce audible clicks or other responses are excellent for designs that benefit from interaction confirmation and a more tactile feel. Manufacturers can take your product even further with low profile LEDs, resistors, and capacitors.
Replacing individual switches
Oftentimes, membrane switches can be individually repaired without having to replace an entire circuit. To properly do this, it’s worth reaching out to a local manufacturer for advice, and maybe even an inspection, on the current broken unit. You’ll want to look for the same type of switch as the original, including size and shape. If you’re replacing individual switches, it’s important to know that the replacement part must be compatible with your design. If the switch is a different size or shape, it may not fit correctly in its housing. Similarly, if you choose a different manufacturer than the original one, they may use different materials or manufacturing processes which could result in reduced performance or longevity. Overall, you’ll save yourself more money and time by simply going with the original manufacturer in the first place. However, if you want to repair your membrane switches because you feel the current versions aren’t functioning as you’d like them to, it may be worth researching other membrane switch manufacturing companies nearby to find the perfect one for your product.
The first step is to remove the membrane switches from their casing. To do this, carefully pry open the front and back of the casing with a knife or razor blade until you create a gap just large enough for your hand. Put the top and bottom cases aside, where they will be safe from damage. There are two ways to repair membrane switches when they become broken or disconnected. The first is to replace the switches entirely, and the second is to re-solder them.
Hopefully, you found this article helpful. Whether it’s been a while since you’ve worked with membrane switches or you’re just getting started, knowing this information can certainly come in handy. The next time you have to repair one of these switches, either for your own use or for a customer, remember the troubleshooting tips above. And if those don’t fix the issue, at least now you know where to look.
At Golden Valley Products, we offer a wide range of services including: Digital printing, Screen printing, Pad printing, Laser cutting, Steel rule die cutting, Waterjet cutting, Laminating, Embossing, Membrane switches, Medical sensors (pressure sensors), Graphic overlays, and more! We’d be happy to support you on your next product project.