How Membrane Switches Differ From Mechanical Switches

Jan 8, 2021

Switches, including those used in keypads, typically feature one of two different designs: membrane or mechanical. Most devices use either membrane or mechanical switches. Both types of switches are used to control a circuit. When you press a button, you’ll open or close the underlying circuit. Membrane switches, however, use a different method of operation than their mechanical counterparts. How do membrane switches differ from mechanical switches exactly?


Membrane and mechanical switches feature an entirely different construction. Membrane switches are made of a flexible material. By definition, they must have at least one electrical contract placed on a flexible substrate. Mechanical switches, on the other hand, are made of a rigid material, such as plastic. As a result, they feature multiple moving parts that are responsible for their operation.

Moisture Resistance

Membrane keypads are better protected against moisture damage than mechanical keypads. All membrane keypads are sealed. The flexible material from which they are made protects against the intrusion of moisture and other liquids. With their sealed design, membrane switches are often used in humid environments.


Since they don’t feature moving parts, membrane keypads typically last longer than mechanical keypads. The components within a mechanical switch are exposed to physical stress during each keypress. Over time, this stress will wear down the components, thereby increasing the risk of failure. Membrane switches don’t suffer from this problem. They aren’t made of moving or mechanical parts, so they aren’t exposed to physical force. This means membrane switches usually last longer than mechanical switches.


Most people will agree that membrane switches are more comfortable to use than mechanical switches. They offer an ergonomic design that won’t cause discomfort. Membrane switches have a flexible substrate that’s soft and easy to use.

Ease of Cleaning

Another difference between membrane and mechanical switches is ease of cleaning. Membrane switches are typically easier to clean than their mechanical counterparts. You can clean a membrane switch’s buttons using warm water and soap. As previously mentioned, membrane switches are sealed. Therefore, water or other cleaning liquids won’t damage them.

Membrane and mechanical are the two leading switch technologies. Membrane switches are defined by their use of a flexible substrate for at least one of the electrical contacts. In comparison, mechanical switches are defined by their use of many individual and mechanical components. As you see, membrane switches typically come out on top because of their unique benefits.

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