Part of the mechanical make-up of certain styles of membrane switches, a dome switch functions in a simple but effective way. Set-up as the layer between a circuit board and the surface keys, the domes are part of the switch contact system within a variety of keyboards utilized in various settings.
Quick links to Dome Switch Information
How a Dome Switch Works
A dome switch is a common keyboard component because of the tactile and audio signals it sends the keyboard user; the obvious discernible response is why a dome switch is also considered a tactile switch. When a button is pressed, that has a dome switch underneath connecting it to the circuit board, the sound and sensation of the pop when the dome is snapped registers at the same time that the circuit board responds accordingly. This means that the communication of commands from a user to the electronic device is nearly immediate, allowing the user to be more efficient while using the interface utility. This style of membrane switch is popular among many industries since most computer keyboards use dome switch pads and virtually every industry utilizes computers. The prevalence and ease of button based systems ensure they aren’t going anywhere.
Design of Domes
The dome itself may be made of metal or rubber. The metal material is commonly stainless steel, which is often plated in nickel, silver, or gold. Because they are usually reliable for over five million cycles and retain the crisp sound and snap well, metal dome switches are often preferred over rubber domes. The quieter collapsing rubber dome does not provide as much positive response as metal domes and also has a lower life expectancy. However, rubber domes are cheaper, so polyester domes with the inside bubble coated with graphite are often used. They are utilized in a popular style of dome switch keyboard called the scissor switch, which adds a scissor-like mechanism in between the dome and circuit board that shortens the traveling distance of the dome, extending the life of the keyboard as a whole. Because of innovations like the scissor switch keyboard, the dome switch approach to membrane switchboards remains popular. Handheld controllers, electronics in automobiles, medical devices, and other consumer electronics all function through the use of the dome switch.