How to choose the best membrane switch for your application

Choosing the right components for an application is one of the most important steps during the planning stage. At Melrose Nameplates, we help our clients at every step of the way to make sure that the components they choose are of the highest quality and balance the costs and performance perfectly.

If you’re wondering what factors you should take into account when choosing a membrane switch for your project, this article is for you.

Keyboards and switches play a key role in shaping the user experience of electronic devices. In their most basic sense, these switches allow human operators to control electronic devices. But membrane switches come in many different shapes. The most common of them are mechanical such as the popular mechanical keyboards. Then there are membrane switches which thanks to their design are more compact than mechanical switches.

1. Key size

Key size plays a vital role in the choice of the right membrane switch for your application. Step into the shoes of your application’s user. Consider all the different ways in which they’re going to use the membrane keypad. This will give you an idea about the right key size that matches the expectations of the user and allows using your equipment easily.

For example, most mobile phones with membrane keypads have smaller keys because it helps to reduce the overall size of the device. The same is true for remote controls. On the other hand, if the membrane keypad is going to be used in a large machine, it’s likely that it will require larger keys. That’s why it’s essential to consider key size first during the process of designing your membrane switch.

2. Key spacing

Another consideration to make during the process of membrane switch design is key spacing. Make sure to place your keys in a distance to prevent users from pressing the wrong keys by accident. If the keys are placed too close to one another, users might make such mistakes. Also, it means taking a long time to type. This will result in a poor user experience.

However, make sure that your keyspaces aren’t too large and your keys aren’t too far away from each other. Otherwise, the operator will be forced to bend in unusual directions while typing on your membrane switch. It’s essential to achieve a balanced space between the keys to deliver an optimal user experience.

3. Pressure

Membrane switches register the pressure of users’ fingers. That’s basically how they work. Imagine that you’re a user and you press a key. The electrical contact creates a direct connection to the underlying circuit. This is when the keypress is registered.

Today, membrane switches work with different degrees of pressure sensitivity. That’s why you need to consider the pressure that will be applied to the membrane switch in your equipment.

While many users prefer minimal pressure, others might find stronger pressure more practical, depending on the specific application. The pressure is one of the most important factors to take into account when designing a membrane and building a proper user experience.

4. Tactile feedback

Another factor to consider is tactile feedback. Many membrane keyboards are designed to offer very little tactile feedback (or even no tactile feedback at all). This means that users get no indication whatsoever when they press keys.

Membrane keyboards and switches that offer tactile feedback can improve the accuracy of user activities, all the while building a much more positive experience with your equipment. So, keep that in mind and find out more about the preferences of your target users before choosing an option without tactile feedback.

5. Water resistance

An important feature to keep in mind when picking a membrane switch from your application is water resistance. Even if the keypad is installed or used in an indoor location, it might still suffer from exposure to moisture. For example, moisture from the air might get onto the service and even settle down underneath the keys. This, in turn, will damage the electrical circuits. The good news here is that most membrane keypads and switches are water resistant since they’re embedded into the circuitry.

Order a high-quality membrane switch for your project

At Melrose Nameplates, we have many years of experience in delivering membrane switches to the most demanding applications manufactured for industries such as healthcare, navigation, and military.

Do you have any more questions about membrane switches and their design? Get in touch with us to get expert advice and see how you can improve your application with our membrane switches.

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