The Ultimate Buying Guide for Custom Membrane Keyboard

hqtJun 23, 2020

Custom Membrane Keyboard and Switching Buying Guide For UI

When designing a user interface, decision design engineers come across multiple challenges. Choosing, the custom membrane keyboard or switch on top. They also need to figure out the right kind of switching technology.

Of course, they can go with standard membrane keypad. However, sometimes it is the need for the application to have a custom membrane keypad. Thus, they would have to go with customization. Using the correct membrane switch is imperative. After all, it plays the middle man for the machine and the end-user.

It lets the end-user send out signals to the machine, thus allowing the machine to fulfill the requested command. Due to this reason, it is an imperative aspect of the product design process. You should not take the selection of membrane switch lightly.

In addition to analysing a number of variables, it would also define how the machine responds to the users. Something, the consumers pay extra heed to. So, for your convenience, we have come up with this blog post.

This is a guide about buying the correct membrane keyboard, switch, or keypad for your applications.

A Guide to Buying Custom Membrane Keyboard says that the user interfaces greatly focuses on what the user might want the machine to do. It actually anticipates the user input. In addition, it ensures that the UI has the capability along with all the required elements that would make it easy for users to access.

Furthermore, the objective of a well-designed UI is to offer flexibility, understandability, and ease of use to the users. It also needs to allow users to facilitate all these actions in an effective manner. In other others, UI would bring together concepts from visual design, interaction design, and information architecture.

Since it is a vital component of digital and product design, there is actually a growing body of searched that solely focuses on the design principles of the User Interface for a number of applications.  Before you finalize an optimal switching technology, you should consider a number of factors.

All these factors would contribute towards the ultimate durability, functionality, and usability of the end product. You need to consider things about design constraints, packaging cost, packing constraints, user experience, user feedback, etc.

Moreover, you also need to consider the environmental factors, after all, they do play some role due to the evolvement of machine design. To simplify things for you, we will be grouping the switching technology into two main groups, first the traditional technologies and second the specialty technologies.

Custom Membrane Keyboard

Traditional Switching Technologies for Custom Membrane Keyboard

Below, we have listed some common traditional switching technologies

  • Rubber Keypads
  • Copper Flex Membrane Switch
  • PCB Membrane Switches
  • Sliver Flex Membrane Switches

Specialty Switching Technology

  • Capacitive Touch Membrane Switch
  • Touch Screens
  • Peizoelectric Membrane Switches
  • SimTouch, SimSlide, and SimScroll Membrane Switches


Considering the Traditional Switching Technologies

Although, both technologies offer a number of benefits. However, our major focus would be on the traditional switching technologies for the custom membrane keyboards. Overall, with membrane switches, it is possible for the manufacturers to design an array of designs.

They can offer customized, appropriate and targeted interfaces for the consumers. These designs have the ability to seamlessly bridge the gap between the end-user and the machine functionality. A traditional or typical membrane switch consists of a number of layers as well as components.

Below, we have listed them from bottom to top.

  • Rigid Support Layer
  • Rear Adhesive Layer
  • Lower Circuit Layer
  • Circuit Spacer
  • Top Circuit Layer
  • Overlay Adhesive
  • Graphic Overlay

For the overall appearance of the end product, it is important to focus on the graphic overlay. After all, it acts as the visual representation of the product’s control panel. Also, you have the option of choosing a custom membrane keyboard.

There is an array of design options for you to choose from. Select the one that would fulfill all your application requirements. Here are some of these options.

  • Elastomer Rubber Keypads
  • Panel Interconnections
  • Circuit Encoding
  • Backlighting
  • Relegendable Overlays
  • Embossing
  • Filter Windows
  • Hard Coat Finishes

These are some of the most common merits that different traditional membrane switch technologies offer to a number of applications. So, let’s talk about different traditional membrane technologies in detail.

Sliver Flex Membrane

Silver Flex membrane uses carbon conductive inks along with screen-printed silver on flexible polyester layers. These layers are separated using an adhesive spacer. In addition to being the most common design for the custom as well as flexible membrane keypads, it is also cost-effective.

Affordability is among its major attractions especially when you compare them with expensive, bulkier electromechanical switch assemblies. This simple, yet space-saving design adds more to their appeal.

Environment Friendly

What more is that they are environment friendly. So, the screen-printing process of conductive silver inks onto the flexible film substrate causes less damage to the environment in comparison to the chemically etched copper.

This along with the wide variety of designs often makes them the top choice for designers. Some of the design options include:

  • Standard Connectors on .110 inches centers.
  • RFI Shielding
  • EMI Shielding
  • Rigid backers including FR4 or Aluminum
  • Electroluminescent backlighting (EL)
  • Embedded LEDs
  • Non-tactile or tactile with either polyester or metal tactile domes

Furthermore, the Silver Flex membrane incorporate the graphic overlay. This further adds a number of design possibilities

  • UV Hard-coat Surface Finishes
  • Selection Textures
  • Transparent Display Windows
  • Tinted Display Windows
  • Rim Embossing
  • Pillow Embossing
  • Screen Printing
  • Digital Printing
  • Combination of Screen and Digital Printing

Below are the layers of a sliver Flex membrane Switch Design

Graphic Overlay

For graphic overlay manufacturers usually choose the polyester. They use this material instead of the polycarbonate due to its enhanced chemical resistance along with the flex life. You can get the right texture, finishes, or colors by using a number of printing options.

For instance, you can use screen printing or digital printing. For more enhanced results, try combining both printing techniques for your membrane switch designs.

Overlay Adhesive

To bound the top circuit layer to the graphic overlay, overlay adhesive comes into action. Generally, this is an acrylic adhesive. The manufacturer uses this because of its ability to withstand harsh environmental conditions and offer durability.

The acrylic overlay work well with different environments including the moist environments.

Top Circuit Layer

The layer comes with incorporating the poly domes along with encapsulating the metal domes. These domes are required to achieve tactile feedback. The layer usually is between .005 to .007 inches. In addition to being heat stabilized, it comes with a polyester printed layer.

The layer has is filled with dielectric inks, electrically conductive inks, and a silver filling.

Circuit Spacer

To separate the bottom circuit layer from the top circuit layer, the circuit spacer comes into action. Thus, allowing the switch to stay open until there is a press on the keypad. The space has adhesive on both sides and is usually of polyester.

Lower Circuit Layer

The layer usually is between .005 to .007 inches. In addition to being heat stabilized, it comes with a polyester printed layer.

The layer has is filled with dielectric inks, electrically conductive inks, and a silver filling. Furthermore, the Lower Circuit layer acts as a flexible tail serving as interconnecting to other electronics and controllers PCBs.

Rear Adhesive Layer for Custom Membrane Keyboard

The purpose of the rear adhesive layer is to bound the entire membrane switch package of the product enclosure. It would bound it to the rigid support panel. There are different adhesive types and thicknesses. You need to choose the one that would be according to your equipment requirements.

Custom Membrane Keyboard in china

Rigid Support Layer

This is an optimal layer. You can use it to add structural integrity to your custom membrane keyboard. Furthermore, you can use a number of materials including FR-4, Aluminum, etc. You can also add mounting hardware such as the standoffs and the studs. Thus, increasing the robustness of the keypad.

So, you can reach out to us for your membrane keypads and we will provide you the best services.