Are Membrane Switches Durable?

Feb 15, 2022

10-button membrane switch, with mechanical rotary-dial cut out, designed and built for CareFusion

Durability is important when choosing switches for commercial applications. While consumer applications often involve indoor use, commercial applications often involve outdoor use or high-humidity indoor use. Regardless, switches will be exposed to more wear and tear when used in commercial applications.

Rather than choosing mechanical switches consisting of multiple moving parts, you may want to choose membrane switches. Membrane switches have become a popular alternative to mechanical switches. They still provide an interface with custom buttons or keys to control circuits, but they feature a membrane overlay layer. So, are membrane switches durable?

Moisture Protection

Membrane switches offer a high level of protection against moisture. As previously mentioned, they feature a membrane overlay layer, which is the top layer. Directly below the membrane overlay layer is a space layer, followed by a printed circuit board, a rear adhesive and then a tail filler.

The membrane overlay layer is made of a solid, waterproof material. Moisture can’t penetrate through the membrane overlay layer, nor can it reach the other layers. As a result, moisture damage isn’t a concern with membrane switches. With their sealed top layer, they are protected against moisture damage.

Multiple Circuit Options

Membrane switches are available in multiple circuit options. All membrane switches feature a printed circuit. The printed circuit is the metaphorical “heart” of a membrane switch that allows them to respond to button and key presses. With that said, the type of printed circuit used in a membrane switch may vary.

Some membrane switches feature a traditional silver-based printed circuit. Silver is used to form the conductive pathways of the printed circuit. Other membrane switches feature a copper and polyimide printed circuit. The silver is replaced with these materials. Also known as “Kapton” circuits, they are stronger and more durable than those with silver.

LED Backlighting

You can choose light-emitting diode (LED) backlighting for membrane switches. LED is a more durable backlighting technology than other options. It’s energy efficient and long-lasting.

Light guides are available for LED backlighting as well. With light guides, fewer LEDs are needed. The light guides will help to distribute the LED’s light across the membrane switch’s top layer.

In Conclusion

The bottom line is that membrane switches are absolutely durable. They feature a sealed top layer, are available in multiple circuit options and offer LED backlighting. With their exceptional level of durability, membrane switches are an excellent choice for consumer and commercial applications alike.

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