Looking for a new keyboard for your workplace? While the fundamental purpose behind them remains the same, there are several different types of keyboards, the two most common being membrane and dome-switch. So, what’s the difference between a membrane and dome-switch keyword and which one is right for you?
Membrane keyboards are characterized by the use of a single membrane in which the keys are embedded into a flat, flexible surface. This is in stark contrast to traditional mechanical keyboards, which contain keys that are separate moving parts. Membrane keyboards have become increasingly popular in recent years due to their strength and durability. Because the keys are all created on a single surface, dirt and debris can not make its way underneath the keys. As a result, membrane keyboards have become popular in commercial applications where there’s high levels of dust, dirt and/or debris.
There are actually two different sub-types of membrane keyboards: flat-panel and full-travel. Flat-panel membrane keyboard, which are commonly found in appliances and fax machines, consist of three layers that, when pressed, force the upper and bottom layers to make contact. Full-travel membrane keyboards have a single plastic keytop that pressed down on a membrane to create electrical contact.
On the other side of the fence is the dome-switch keyboard. Technically speaking, dome-switch keyboards are a hybrid of flat-panel and mechanical-switch keyboards, featuring two circuit boards under a rubber/silicone keypad with metal dome switches. When pressed, the metal switches provide crisp tactile feedback, allowing the operator to know if and when the respective device registered his or her command. Dome-switched keyboards are prized for their high level of accuracy, reliability, and tactile feedback.
So, which type of keyboard is right for you? It really depends on how and where it will be used. For commercial applications, membrane keyboards are often preferred, simply because they offer a longer lifespan of use without succumbing to mechanical problems posed by dust and debris. In any case, read through some of our previous blog posts here at Nelson-Miller for more information on the different types of keypad and human machine interfaces (HMIs).