How Custom Membrane Keypad is useful in 2022?

14 Apr, 2022

By hqt

Custom Membrane Keypad

The custom membrane keypad market has become much more difficult in recent years. Increasingly cheaper, convenient to use and perceived as a sign of modernity. Screens and touch panels have replaced keypads in many applications.

Does it make sense to use mechanical keypads and buttons? How are the producers and suppliers of these components coping in this situation? We answer these questions in this article.

The fashion for touch screens is not unreasonable. They are a beneficial solution for both customers and producers. Not only do they look attractive, they allow you to make gestures. They also make it possible to reduce the dimensions of the entire device by integrating the display and the (virtual) keypad in one element.

Custom membrane keypad façade with cutouts for illuminating elements

They are also easy to clean, can withstand many harsh environmental conditions. They also allow you to easily modify the way the device operate by updating the firmware. However, there are many situations where the use of a touch screen is pointless or simply not a good solution.

Features of Membrane keypads

The touch screen works well where it is very important to reduce the dimensions of the device. The size of the display and its resolution have a large impact on the reception of a given product by customers. However, it should remember that this is not always the case.

An example are devices whose target price does not allow for the incorporation of a large, color graphic display, but only e.g. a set of signaling LEDs or an alphanumeric LCD matrix. Then a good and inexpensive way to make the device more attractive is to build in a custom membrane keypad (foil), designed especially for a given product.

Durable keypad, designed for easy cleaning

They protect the electronic circuits inside the housing against external influences, allowing for a degree of protection at the IP68 level, as long as the rest of the housing also meets the tightness requirements.

Keypads of this type are made of several layers of polyester foils, connected with each other with self-adhesive foils. These layers contain printed paths, the layout of which can freely adjust to the customer’s needs.

Custom membrane keypad can be operated even with thick gloves

The top layer is color printed – most often pad printing, but it may contain transparent areas. These are important due to the possibility of placing luminous elements on the following layers, which will signal the operating status of the device. Importantly, they can operate even with thick gloves, which is impossible with most touch screens.

While foil keypads do not work well in situations where it is necessary to enter many characters quickly for a long time, in other cases they are a very good solution.

Custom membrane keypad is high resistance to various environmental conditions and chemicals is important. Although it depends on the quality of the materials common, keypads are commonly made that are resistant not only to spills, juices, and even vinegar and blood.

Resistance to various specific chemicals

They are also insensitive to most commonly common detergents, which makes them very easy to clean. Keypad manufacturers also declare their resistance to various specific chemicals, common, for example, in technological processes, such as: acetone, gasoline, potassium chloride, cyclohexanone, dichloromethane, ethyl-butyl-glycol, iso-propylene, xylene, hydrochloric acid, methyl ethyl ketone, ethyl acetate, toluene and hydroxide soda.

Custom Membrane Keypad 2022 

Membrane keypads can work in a wide temperature range

In practice, custom membrane keypad is much more resistant to extreme negative temperatures than displays and, consequently, touch screens associated with them.

The latter sometimes equip with appropriate heaters to ensure that the liquid crystals retain their mobility. This is a solution that significantly increases the cost and complexity of the entire installation. Meanwhile, the use of a foil keypad allows you to avoid this problem in an inexpensive way.

However, there is an application for which membrane keypads are difficult to recommend. This applies to situations when it is necessary to obtain a vandal-proof interface of the custom membrane keypad. While the foils are easy to clean and withstand hits with hard, flat objects very well. They are easy to scratch or even cut with sharp objects.

Why membrane keypads are useful?

Therefore, they are right for existence where users are aware of the value of the equipment. There is no risk that they will want to destroy it. That is why membrane keypads are eagerly common. For example, in fitness equipment, medical devices and professional equipment.

Their ease of cleaning and the fact that, unlike touch screens, if custom membrane keypad operates with dirty fingers. The traces left on them do not affect the readability of the interface.

However, if it is necessary to create a vandal-resistant interface, it is better to use other types of mechanical keys and buttons, with an appropriate level of resistance to both impacts and scratches.

Vandal-proof keypads and buttons

Recently, the group of vandal-resistant keypads and buttons has been developing strongly. Their development is partly due to the popularity of touch screens mentioned at the outset. These are quite good for classic applications, replacing many other types of mechanical interfaces. Custom membrane keypad is not as resistant as to be insensitive to various types of strong shocks.

Admittedly, a lot depends on the type of touchscreen. In the case of resistive interfaces, they are very prone to all kinds of scratches and in practice they deteriorate quickly at all.

In the case of capacitive screens, the layer of glass protecting the display can toughen and thick enough to compensate for the effects of any impact. This is usually an expensive, heavy solution requiring the use of highly sensitive controllers.

Custom membrane keypad: button parameters

Another example of situations where the touch screen is not applicable are those where an extensive keypad is not needed at all. Then, single buttons with appropriate parameters are enough. There are many of these. The button or switch may be monostable or biostable, single or multi-pole, with or without backlight, single-circuit or modular, and low or high voltage.

In addition, they may differ in the type of pusher common. Manufacturers offer panel switches, push-buttons, microswitches, rocker switches, toggle switches, dip-switches, joysticks, cam switches, rotary switches, slide switches, ignition switches, locks, code setpoints and, finally, footswitches.

A specific custom membrane keypad may have a combination of these features. There is a good chance that an almost perfect button can select for the application being designed.


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