Membrane Switch Design Guide

PANNAM PANNAMIMAGING IMAGING

shape or hole locations for your switch. Pannam provides the highest quality membrane switch to meet your specific requirements. industrial controls. It is essential to insure that the overlay material chosen will last as long as your specific application requires.000 times before showing any signs of wear. Pannam produces inhouse prints to be sent with the job as it moves through the shop. Exact color match swatches. No matter what your needs are. the top layer of the membrane switch. CorelDRAW® and FreeHand®. These prints can be provided to you for your reference. 3 How can I send electronic files to Pannam and which formats do they accept? Pannam supports files created in AutoCAD®. Overlays are thus the weakest link in a switch. will also be provided for approval. can last over 5. execution and reliability.” Most substrate materials used in the construction of a Pannam switch are UL approved. . Once you've worked through the Design Guide.005” . Whether you need one-of-a-kind or a run of thousands. our Prototype Team will help you design a new switch as well as produce the actual prototype including a complete set of prints and specifications.000.000 cycles. Pannam produces prototype parts without most of the “hard tooling” required for production. in-house graphics capabilities. you will receive a color laser paper proof of your overlay to show color breaks. without an overlay in place. you should focus on polyester if durability is an issue. What is important in choosing an overlay material? Given that the overlay is what your customer sees in the switch package. is the graphic interface between user and machine. colors. a prototype is for you. eliminating the need to include specific fonts that we may not have. polyester is the material of choice for switches that require a large number of actuations (>25. While other layers make the switch work. it is the overlay that most directly impresses your customer.000) or if the overlay is to be embossed. electronics and data communications. What about production drawings? During the design phase. How to Start the Process Starting the process for designing a membrane switch is easy. Pannam’s seasoned Prototype Team can help you design your new switch as well as produce the actual prototype. Many packages allow you to convert text to curves or paths. stands ready to assist you. Generally. high valueadded end of the product-need spectrum. To help create the desired look and feel for your overlay. transparent windows. on the selected overlay material. computers. selective textures. If you are not certain of all final details such as size.Design Membrane Switch Design Guide Pannam Imaging Pannam Imaging designs and produces customized membrane switches used in applications that demand the highest level of integration. screen tints. How can I see what you are designing for me? During the design process. including computer graphic design. The actual switch. If you have files created in another package. While there is more design flexibility with polycarbonate. including designers and engineers. our life cycle tests show polyester keypads can be actuated over 1. Pannam offers complete. We serve many markets including medical instrumentation. the way it looks and functions is crucial to a successful switch project. Pannam's full-service Prototype Team. image-setting and scanning. What overlay materials are available from Pannam? Pannam offers polyester and polycarbonate materials in many gloss levels. What is a prototype? Do I need one? Can Pannam assist me with my design needs? A prototype is a practical. it is recommended that you include the fonts with your file. The most important issue after “look” and “function” is overlay durability. While Pannam has an extensive library of fonts. You can e-mail your file to graphics@pannam. cost-effective way to create and execute your design with a minimum investment in tooling and development time. Overlay How can Pannam assist me in developing an overlay that has the “right” look? The overlay. We can incorporate a wide variety of design elements such as logos. particularly if you have edited them in some way. Just begin with the questions and answers in this Design Guide to help direct you through each phase.015. and the overall switch must be rated to its weakest link. our professional designers and engineers are there to assist you. It is also helpful to send or fax a hard copy of the artwork. dead fronts and embossing. we offer design assistance from simple color and overlay material selection to complex design elements incorporating creative functionality. textured finishes and thicknesses ranging from . there is probably a format you can save to that we can accept.com or send us your CD-ROM or 3-1/2” floppy.000. Clearly.. Pannam has focused its competitive expertise on the high quality.

It is sometimes necessary to use bridging or multiple circuit layers to accommodate the functionality required. as well. Heavily used keypads that have been embossed will most certainly degrade more rapidly due to a thinner wall thickness at the point of stress. Pannam supplies both methods and can help you decide which will yield the best results for your application. We can also supply copper-etched and PCB circuits depending on your design requirements. embossing can dramatically enhance the look of the overlay. How can embossing improve the look and function of my overlay? Depending on design creativity. choose an overlay thickness between . How are the colors printed? All the colors on the overlay are printed on the rear or back surface (second surface) of the overlay material using a screen printing process. the circuit layer is die-cut to the proper shape to fit in the switch sandwich. How long can the circuit tail be on the membrane switch? The circuit tail is part of the circuit layer. Depending on size and shape. A thicker overlay will significantly decrease tactile feedback (give a heavier feel). We can then match the switch background color accordingly.008. Pannam’s Prototype Team with its years of experience. the switch can be designed to “window” the keypads so the texture ink is printed only around the actual pad that functions. Are there any embossing limitations I need to be aware of? There are certain limitations to be aware of: Height -Typically. The length of the circuit tail can be as long as required to terminate to other functioning parts of the system.010” hole to edge How can I match the background color of my overlay to a bezel color? The best way to do this is to have Pannam use its computer color matching system to take a color reading of the customer-supplied bezel. power and system integration requirements. 5 Overlay & Circuit Tolerances What are the tolerances for the overlay and circuit layers? Imaging: ± . Depending on the size and shape of the part. What type of circuit tail connectors does Pannam offer? • Berg® (Standard) • CrimpFlex® (Standard) • Amp® • Molex® • Various “crimp” pins Circuits How is the circuit layer manufactured on a membrane switch? There are a number of methods for producing circuit layers depending on durability.Recommended minimum emboss width is 8 times the base material thickness. How can my overlay be designed to eliminate this problem? Selective velvet texture can be provided two ways.005” thick polyester and is designed to minimize overall resistance. Clearly. the more base material and conductive ink used.” This thickness range will be durable enough to hold up to numerous switch cycles. extended-use keypads should not have printed texture on them. In this manner.003” . has much more flexibility but is more expensive. Federal Standard Guide. but does have height-of-embossarea limitations that must be understood. It is possible to emboss beyond 2-1/2 times material thickness. Note that molding process color can vary. What colors are available for the overlay? 4 Pannam uses a computer color matching system to help formulate any color as well as archive recipes of colors already matched for specific customer applications. The silver conductive ink circuit layer is printed on . it is sometimes more difficult to fit all of the circuitry on a single layer. Pannam can also supply extension cables with or without connectors. This is fine for most applications. or a Braille pattern can be added to the overlay for the visually impaired. Do I have to supply Pannam with an electrical schematic for the circuit layer? No.. Switch backgrounds will not vary as much and to avoid disappointment.2” square). complexity of the electrical schematic and keypad configuration. very durable finish.The recommended minimum corner radius is . metal to metal with male and female dies. European Standard Guide or a customer-supplied swatch (minimum size .032”. It can add to the function of the switch. After printing.What overlay thickness should I choose? For excellent tactile feedback (“feel”) in a switch with stainless steel dome construction. . What embossing shapes are available? Pad Rail (Perimeter) Dome The entire shape of the keypad is raised. The first is the conventional method. Radius . The second method. emboss height on a polyester overlay should range from 1 to 2-1/2 times the thickness of the base material. We can match colors from the Pantone® Color Selection Guide. which will reduce the cost of the switch with no loss of performance. It is more cost-effective to allow Pannam to do the circuit design. Completely square corners are not possible because they will crack the overlay material. as well.006” and . rail (perimeter) embossing can be used as a finger locator for a switch with many keypads. For example. hydro-forming. Alternatively. but only at a cost to durability. The longer the circuit tail. not unless you have done this before specifically for membrane switches. There are two basic ways to emboss. The choice of one method over the other is dependent on the requirements of your design. which will increase the cost of the switch and the resistance.015” copy to edge Die-cutting (Hole & Perimeter Size): ± . and acceptable standards and ranges must be established between you and your molder. Pannam offers screen printed silver conductive ink circuits as its standard construction. The thickness of the overlay material protects the graphics from damage or wear by the operator or environment. I have seen membrane switches with a velvet finish on the keypads that wore away. Embossing can be a great design enhancement to the function of a switch. can make electrical schematic suggestions to limit the number of printed circuit passes. acceptable variations need to be agreed upon up front. potentially objectionable keypad degradation is eliminated and an attractive design element is introduced that more clearly differentiates the keypad from the surrounding switch area. The surface can be printed by us or supplied by our film producer with a velvet texture integral to the material. custom logos and multi-level shapes can be embossed. Selective textures and window clearing agents are the only inks printed on the outside or top surface (first surface) of the overlay and are UV cured to produce a hard. The entire keypad is raised to a spherical shape (this type of emboss is normally used in poly-dome constructions). Width . This will maintain strength and form of the overlay. A rim around the perimeter of the keypad is raised.

and E. where a machine operator might accidentally lean or place something on the switch How do I know which dome to choose for my application? Typically.. Typically. eliminating the need for a separate foil layer. Switch travel.015” .very expensive.011”.020” . Shielding Why should I include shielding in my membrane switch construction? Shielding is used to protect the switches from E. In this method.. Overlay Adhesive Top Circuit Spacer Bottom Circuit Rear Adhesive Pannam stainless steel dome specifications: Size 8. Travel . 16-18 oz. Electrical Specifications Switch Contact Rating Loop Resistance Switch Configuration Surface-Mount LED Specifications Contact Bounce 28V DC/30mA max.S. tactile feedback is not significantly affected. 21-28 oz. Pannam makes a proper dome recommendation based on the size of the keypad. .005”..D. Does adding a shield layer affect the tactile response of the stainless steel domes? The shield layer sits directly above the stainless steel dome plane. You may only have LEDs and no other components in your switch. When only one circuit layer is required. can range from . 100 Ohms max. the PCB may have to be located too far away from the front surface to illuminate LEDs properly at the overlay plane.039” . bus-bar or full-coating format.020” .024” .030” due to the height of the LEDs. 3. which affects actuation force. The overall tactile switch thickness starts at . 6 Are there various termination methods available for the shield layer? 7 Tab Are switches with surface-mounted LEDs thicker? Surface-mounted LEDs increase overall switch thickness by .030”.. 11-14 oz. Connector What type of shielding methods are available? Pannam uses three different basic shielding methods to protect switches: 1. Non-Tactile Switch Construction How is the L.007” . The LED circuit tail can terminate to its own dedicated connector or it can terminate through the same connector as the keypad circuit. “Force” listed above is for the stainless dome itself.D. Using different sizes of stainless steel domes will vary the force to meet most requirements. Printed Screen printed with silver conductive ink in a grid. Other aspects of construction design will affect actuation force or feel. Heavy Force (16-20 oz. Actuation Force / Design NON-TACTILE Non-tactile switches can be designed with a broad range of actuation forces starting at 3 oz..2mm Force 9-11 oz. interference. a printed shield is more cost-effective.) Manufacturing Plant.019” . Actuation force is determined by the spacer thickness (layer between the top and bottom circuit layers – see diagram above) and the diameter of the spacer hole.020” .. Since the layer is so thin. Shield layer can be terminated into a pin or pins on the circuit tail connector. circuit manufactured? The LEDs are “glued” to the screen-printed silver conductive traces with a heat-cured conductive epoxy.024” .032” .055” How do I choose between a printed shield and foil shield layer? When the complexity of the membrane switch requires two circuit layers (top and bottom circuit). TACTILE Overlay Dome / Dome Retainer Circuit Rear Adhesive Wrap-Around Shield layer can wrap completely around the membrane on all four sides to ground to a chassis. SPST normally open Available upon request Less than 20 milli-seconds on break. 2.2 mm dome is chosen and is the most cost-effective.E.I.) High-Speed Data Entry Most Applications (Medical.047” .5mm 12. Why would I choose to have LEDs mounted in the switch itself rather than in a PCB to which the switch will be mounted? There are several reasons. it is more costly than the other two methods due to the added labor necessary to execute.) Medium Force (10-14 oz. Or. less than 10 on make The overall non-tactile switch thickness starts at . the grid format is chosen because it is very reliable and does not use as much silver conductive ink as does the full-coating format (less costly). The mating printed circuit board may have many other components and not enough room for LEDs. the shield is printed directly on top of the top circuit layer.2mm 20mm 30. The tab can be attached to a stud or standoff on a back panel or metal enclosure. 17-23 oz.. Foil Laminated aluminum foil and polyester. Pannam can design a switch that incorporates the proper shielding layer for your specific application needs. Typically. Tactile Switch Construction Actuation force in a switch designed with tactile feedback does not have as much feel flexibility as a non-tactile switch. Examples of actuation choices for specific applications: Light Force (3-6 oz. the shield layer thickness is between .2mm 12. surface-mounted LEDs available in a variety of colors. Test Equipment etc... a foil shield is less expensive than a printed shield. a switch with a thin spacer and large diameter spacer hole will have a light actuation force.Surface-Mount LEDs Pannam supplies “rigid” or “flexible” switches with embedded. Although this method is very reliable. Nine out of ten times the 12.) The preferred method for reliability. For example.M.003” and .027”. Transparent Shielding required over Film windows .

non-corrosive and resistant to abrasion. Intermittent contact opening and contact closure that may occur after switch operation. Information or documentation created electronically by computer.) 8 E. (Make) . 9 Anodize Arcing Backlighting Circuit Contact Bounce Contact Closure Contact Force Dead Front Density Dielectric Strength E. Electromagnetic Interference (Radio Frequency Interference). usually specified in percentages such as 75% gloss.125”. in-house capabilities for shearing. Pannam has full. Electrostatic Discharge – transfer of high potential electrical charge between objects by contact or through the air.032” to . Discharge of electricity (a spark) that can occur when contacts are opened or closed. Image made of a pattern of various size and shape dots (newspaper photograph) rather than continuous gray. Radiated energy from electrical devices. usually expressed as a voltage gradient (such as volts per mil). The force at contact closure. or if required.I. milling. Typically made of a silver conductive ink printed on polyester. The degree to which light transmits through a color or transparent window.D. A flexible layer within a membrane switch construction that illuminates select areas of the overlay. Although alodining is usually less expensive.S. Arcing can degrade or burn contacts.Switch Backing What are my backing material options? Switches that are not mounted on PCBs or copperetched circuits are adhesive or aluminum backed. Membrane Switch . non-corrosive surface that can be colored. a PCB or polyester printed with other conductive materials. 90% gloss and so forth. The degree of shininess of a particular material. Additionally. the less light will be transmitted. more aggressive adhesive. bending. Electro-chemical oxidation of aluminum to form aluminum oxide with a porous nature.L.I.Point at which specified resistance is achieved. Light Emitting Diode. The anodized layer can be durably colored and is non-conductive. For instance. The voltage that an insulating material can withstand before breakdown occurs.E. Files Font Gloss Level Halftone Image-Setting L. punching and installing PEM inserts in aluminum back panels. Notes Glossary Actuation Force Alodine The maximum force measured prior to or including the point at which keypad contact closure is achieved. they can be anodized to create a nonconductive. The process by which electronic files are transferred to film or paper directly from the computer (computer onto film technology). such as text or graphic symbols. Also can be a flexible copper circuit.F. lightning and similar sources which interferes with the proper operation of electronic circuitry. A momentary switching device in which at least one contact is made of a flexible substrate. Functioning component (sub-layer) of a membrane switch. it is important to understand the durability and environmental requirements of the switch after it will be applied in a system to insure the proper adhesive choice. A chemical conversion process that oxidizes aluminum to form a non-porous aluminum oxide. Examples of backlighting methods are E. (also R. a smooth surface will readily accept an adhesive while a powder or rough surface will require a thicker. A set of characters having a unified design. Pannam can provide a wide variety of adhesive backings on switches.D. Printing translucent ink in an area so that the graphic is visible only when backlit. reducing useful life. They can be alodined to create a non-corrosive surface. Primarily. The higher the density. Referred to as "poor man's anodizing" because it is less costly and not as durable as anodizing.M. (electroluminescent) or fiber optic. They typically range in thickness from . anodizing is more durable. it is important to understand the nature of the surface to which the switch will be applied.

M. perimeter of a keypad or a border). or E.E. window).I. Having the property of diffusing light. A paper simulation of what a screen-printed overlay will look like.M.Moisture Resistance Non-Tactile Switch Overlay Pad Emboss Proof Polyester Dome Ability of a material to repel moisture either from air or when subjected to water. Top layer of a membrane switch (the graphic interface between device and user) generally made of polyester or polycarbonate.e. Having the property of transmitting light without appreciable scattering so that objects beneath are entirely visible. Tactile switches give the user immediate physical feedback that the switch has been activated.D. A switch assembly that has a tactile ratio equal to zero. which is usually formed by a hydro-forming process. Surface Mount Technology. (i. Termination Translucent Transparent . complete a circuit.D. simulating shading or a lighter color. Method of printing by forcing ink through a mesh selectively. A keypad on a membrane that has been dome-embossed on the overlay or top circuit layer to add tactile feedback when the switch is activated. Area of image printed with dots so ink coverage is less than 100%. This is done by closing parts of the mesh with a stencil. A layer of polyester material that is either laminated with aluminum or printed with conductive ink to protect a switch from E. A sudden collapse or snapback of a membrane switch prior to contact closure or after contact opening. A drawing showing electrical interconnections and functions of a specific circuit arrangement. Sub-Surface Printing Imaging on the back (second surface) of an overlay so the printed graphic is protected from wear by the actual material. keypads or graphics. S. a full keypad or L.T. Specified Resistance Maximum allowable resistance measured between two terminations whose internal switch contacts. (i. Tactile Ratio Tactile Response Tactile Switch A measure of tactile response. The dome shape. which defines an entire graphic.S.. interference. submitted to a customer for approval. How a switch is connected to the device it activates.e. can vary in size and shape to achieve a desired “force” and “tactile feedback” of the keypad. when held closed. Surface Mount Device. A switch assembly that provides a tactile ratio greater than zero. A transparent velvet finish printed on specified areas on an overlay to accentuate design elements such as windows. A raised area on an overlay which defines the perimeter of a graphic. Prototype Tooling Rail Emboss Schematic Screen Printing Screen Tint 10 Selective Texture Shield S. A raised area on an overlay.D.. Tactile feedback on a membrane switch can be achieved by using a stainless steel dome or a polydome construction. Partially transparent.M. Method of fabricating prototype components without using steel rule dies (hard tooling) allowing changes before production runs without expensive tooling charges.

0358 e-mail: sales@pannam. Full-service.587.From preliminary idea to custom membrane switch.482.com . PANNAM IMAGING 18531 South Miles Road Cleveland. Creative. Hard-working. Ohio 44128 1. it's a team effort at Pannam.7758 • FAX 216. The "easy-to-do-business-with" membrane switch supplier.800.

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