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What Is a Membrane Switch?

  • July 28, 2021
What is a membrane switch?

Switches play an important role in nearly all electronic devices. From manufacturing equipment and vehicles to lamps, smartphones and more, most electronic devices feature one or more switches. Not all switches are designed the same, however. There are membrane switches that feature a unique design. What is a membrane switch exactly?

Membrane Switches Defined

Membrane switches are circuit-controlling systems that are made of a flexible material. All switches, of course, are used to control a circuit. That’s why they are known as “switches.” Switches can be turned on or off. Turning on a switch will create a complete and closed electrical circuit. Turning off a switch, conversely, will create an incomplete and open electrical circuit. You can control a membrane switch by turning it on or off — just like all electrical switches. The difference is that membrane switches are made of a flexible material.

How Membrane Switches Work

Membrane switches work in a simple way. They are designed with multiple layers consisting of electrical contacts. Most of them have two or more layers. On each of these layers is an arrangement of electrical contacts. To turn on a membrane switch, you can press the button on the top layer. This will push the top layer down into one of the bottom layers so that their respective electrical contacts touch each other.

It’s important to note that membrane switches are made of a flexible material. That’s one of the main ways in which they differ from regular, mechanical switches. Mechanical switches are made of a hard material, such as plastic. Membrane switches are made of a soft and flexible material, such as silicone.

When to Use Membrane Switches

There are certain advantages to using membrane switches. They feature a sealed construction, for instance, that protects them from moisture damage. It’s no secret that moisture and electronics don’t mix. If moisture enters a switch, the switch may fail. Fortunately, this isn’t a concern with membrane switches. With their sealed construction, moisture and other contaminants can’t enter them.

Because they are sealed, membrane switches are easy to clean. You can clean them using a conventional liquid-based cleaning solution, or you can clean them using plain soap and warm water. Membrane switches are also long-lasting. They don’t succumb to the same degree of wear and tear as standard, mechanical switches. As a result, they are a smart investment for businesses.

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