GVP has been manufacturing high-performance, high-quality, and highly durable Membrane Switches for the medical device, military, automotive, marine, and OEM industries since 1973.
What is a Membrane Switch?
A Membrane Switch is an electrical switch that is used to activate and de-activate an electrical circuit, turning it on or off. They are typically used to communicate a user’s command to the electronic device in order to perform a desired function. The circuit actuation is usually performed by pressing a specific location on the user interface, otherwise known as the Graphic Overlay, thus closing the circuit within the printed electronics below. When the membrane switch key is released, the circuit poles separate, and the circuit returns back to an open state.
A typical Membrane Switch construction is comprised of a central thin film membrane layer. This film is typically made using a Polyester material, although there are a wide range of other material options that can provide added benefits for more extreme environments. The circuitry is constructed using a series of printed conductive inks. It is within this process that separates a Membrane Switch from a Copper etched Printed Circuit Board and other mechanical electronics. The use of printed conductive inks provides a greater cost advantage as well as reduced development and lead time from its copper etched cousin. There are several different circuit actuation types that can be incorporated into a Membrane Switch from flat non-tactile keys, metal domes for a tactile and audible response, Polyester formed domes as well as capacitive options. Other electronic components can be mounted into a Membrane Switch as well for added functionality. Low profile LEDs, resistors, and capacitors can be integrated into the circuit construction providing more enhanced user feedback options.
Membrane Switch Applications:
- Household appliances (i.e., air conditioner control panel, TV remote control, microwave oven panel, etc.)
- Medical equipment
- Control panel-oriented industrial and manufacturing equipment
- Military equipment
- Aerospace applications
- Automotive controls and panels
- Retail and consumer-related equipment or machines (i.e., exercise equipment, vending machines, gasoline pumps, etc.)
Key Benefits for a Membrane Switch:
Customized User Interface Options:
As our Membrane Switches are built to order, as opposed to an off the shelf option, you have the ability to tailor the interface to meet your needs.
Membrane switches can include a wide range of graphic options including custom logos, textures, and multi-color specialized graphics.
Low profile construction provides a greater space saving design option.
Through the use of a gasket, or drop-in switch construction, we are able to provide a fully sealed construction that can hold up to an IP65 rating.
Easy to Replace:
As this is a surface laminated component, a Membrane Switch provides a faster low-cost option for field and refurbish replacements. Since the Membrane Switch is all contained in one package, it provides a drop-in place option without the costly replacement of the circuit boards contained inside the unit.
Lower Cost and Lead Time:
When compared to copper etched flex circuits and printed circuit boards (PCBs), a Membrane Switch offers a greater cost reduction with respects to the upfront tooling costs and lead time.
Components of a Membrane Switch:
- Graphic Overlay
- Overlay adhesive/gasket
- ESD shielding layer (optional)
- Dome retainer and/or circuit spacer
- Surface mounted components (optional)
- Circuit layer
- Rear adhesive layer (with liner)
- Back panel
Optional Membrane Switch Features:
- Custom printed graphics and logos (Graphic Overlay portion)
- Custom shapes
- Multi-layer/sided construction through conductive vias
- Surface texture materials (Graphic Overlay portion)
- Embossing (Graphic Overlay portion)
- Actuation options (tactile metal dome, Polydome, flat non-tactile, and capacitive options)
- Customizable connector styles
- Window lens coating (Graphic Overlay portion)
- Moisture and dust-resistant sealing
- LED/resistor embedding
- Options for EMI/ESD/RFI shielding
- Other options available for custom Membrane Switches upon request
Contact GVP For Custom Membrane Switches:
GVP designs and manufactures custom Membrane Switches according to our customers’ exact specifications. Through the use of cross-over, or conductive vias, we can design a Membrane Switch much like a multi-layered PCB is designed.
Our reputation for high-quality control standards, coupled with extensive R&D efforts, gives our customers confidence in our products and services. Our team of engineers will work closely with you on your Membrane Switch design to ensure that all of your requirements are met. Contact Us today if you’re in need of custom printed Membrane Switches for your next project!