Membrane switches are used in a wide array of electronic devices, from television remotes to microwave ovens. These switches may be used in any application where a thin, flat control panel is required. Many membrane switches are also designed to be backlit.
A membrane switch is a thin, flat panel that is often used with a silicone keypad. Unlike traditional electrical switches that may be manufactured from metal and hard plastic, membrane switches are made from several circuit, separation, and adhesive layers that are joined together to form a thin circuit board. The top layer of the membrane switch is typically a silicone keypad that allows users to activate the circuits on the board.
One of the many advantages of membrane switches is that they can be backlit. This is possible because the silicone keyboards may be designed with varying degrees of transparency. There are several techniques in use for backlighting membrane switches.
An older option was electroluminescent (EL) lamps. While EL lamps are still used on some membrane switches, their short service life has led to the development of other options.
LED lights are also sometimes used for backlighting membrane switches. While LEDs last a long time and use very little energy, they are best used for illuminating one area of a keypad rather than an entire keypad.
Optical fiber may also be used in conjunction with LEDs. This option creates an even distribution of light for effective membrane switch backlighting.
As electronic devices become more commonplace in the home, workplace, and even for recreation outdoors, the use of devices equipped with membrane switches has grown considerably. There are many situations, whether indoors or outdoors, where a backlit keypad is desirable. Cell phones, calculators, microwave ovens, medical devices, alarm control panels, and many more pieces of equipment are equipped with backlit membrane switches to make it easy and convenient to operate the device in low light.
Northpoint Technologies, Inc. manufactures and distributes membrane switches, silicone switches, and other electronic components. Contact us today at 915-591-6300 to learn more or to request a quote.