Membrane Switch Panels
A membrane switch is an electrical switch used to turn a circuit on and off. A mechanical switch is generally made of plastic parts and copper. On the other hand, a membrane switch is a circuit printed on polyethylene terephthalate (PET) or indium tin oxide (ITO). The ink with which a membrane switch is printed is usually copper, silver, or graphite, all conductive materials. Many membrane switches require some support so that, for example, a user can push an activation switch successfully. These supports are called membrane switch panels. In addition to supporting switching functions, membrane switch panels enhance the final product with a tailored decorative appearance. Switch panels may be on the front, back, or both.
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Membrane Switch Panel Design
Membrane switch back panels can be produced using many materials, the most common being aluminum. Aluminum panels can be bare, iridited, alodined, painted, or anodized. Other types of membrane switch back panels include plastic injected molded cases/front covers, other metal panels, circuit board materials, stainless steel, acrylic, polycarbonate, and ABS. Plastic injected molded case panels consist of a molded cavity that receives the membrane switch, parting lines, bosses, and injector pin marks. The molded cavity allows the membrane switch to be flush with the case surface. Manufacturers must take care to keep everything else away from the switch button locations to ensure a lack of switch actuation issues. These membrane switch panels are popular in the medical industry. Typically made of aluminum or steel, metal back panels are popular in industrial applications. They are commonly coated with a protective finish to prevent corrosion. A common metal and finish combination is black anodized aluminum, as it conforms to any shape, size, or thickness required by the membrane switch. Printed circuit boards (PCBs) may be used as panels when they lack circuitry. They allow for similar hardware to be installed as metal panels, which allows the panel to be lighter and non-conducive. This type of membrane switch panel is most commonly used in portable equipment that needs lighter, such as phone systems and radio controllers.
Membrane Switch Panel Applications
Membrane switch panels have applications in many industries, including military, defense, aerospace, audio, medical, food and beverage, time management, and home security. More specifically, they may be used in dashboards, control cases, GPS, ATMs, self-checkout machines, vending machines, kiosks, etc. Membrane switch panels may be designed using a number of custom design options, such as associated electronic assemblies, simple or two-stage backlighting, EMC protection, sealing, reinforced sealing, and custom support plating.