Membrane Switch Types

fivelayersA Membrane Switch can be as simple as a two layer construction or a multi-layered complicated assembly. Regardless, as a momentary switch, must contain Membrane Layer and Static Layer.

All other layers required for decoration, backlighting, adhesive, tactile response and rigid support are all optional.

A short explanation and example of each layer:


Decoration of a membrane switch is conventionally accomplished with thin, screen printed, polyester or polycarbonate. Elastomer is also a method of decorating a switch assembly and an attractive and functional alternative especially when a three dimensional look and feel is desired.


As discussed above the Membrane Layer is thin & pliable and carries at least one of the poles of the switch or carries a conductive shorting pad. This is a required layer. Materials used are: Polyester, Metal Dome, Elastomer, Polyimide.


There are several ways to create a tactile response, some are a result of forming another layer. For example a dome embossed polyester overlay means the graphic layer is also the tactile layer. If a poly dome is formed in the membrane layer means it doubles as the tactile layer. Obviously if the tactile layer is absent, you have a non-tactile membrane switch. Options for Tactile Layers are Metal Dome, Polyester Dome, Dome Emboss in the Graphic Layer, Elastomer.


The Static Layer is rigidly supported and carries at least one of the poles of the switch or carries a conductive shorting pad. The Static Layer is a required component of a membrane switch. Polyester,  transparent conductor – ITO, Polyimide, Printed Circuit Board.


If the static layer is made from a flexible material it must be laminated to a rigid material. Many membrane switches are purchased without a rigid backer and the static layer does not become truly static until it is attached permanently to the instrument housing. Example materials: Aluminum, Steel, Plastic, Glass, Fiberglass

Alan Burk


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