Tactile Feedback

Tactile membrane switches incorporate a metal dome or a polydome into the membrane assembly to achieve a desired tactile response. By using different materials and sizes for these domes, you can vary the actuation force required to activate the switch. An additional adhesive layer – called the dome retainer – is placed just under the graphic overlay to hold the dome in place.

Advantages

  • Excellent Tactile Feedback
  • Variety of Shapes and Sizes
  • Variety of Actuation Forces
  • Long Lifespan (up to 1 million actuations)

Disadvantages

  • Higher Costs than Non-Tactile Switches
  • More Components to Manage

Graphic Overlay

For tactile switches, the material selected is determined primarily by lifespan requirements.

If you have an application that requires < 50,000 actuations, polycarbonate is a good option; otherwise polyester is the material of choice. Life cycle tests show that polyester can be actuated over 1,000,000 times in a tactile switch without showing signs of wear.

For good tactile feedback in a membrane switch, choose an overlay thickness between .006 and .010. These thickness ranges will offer the durability to meet your requirements, with the sensitivity to provide a quality tactile effect.

Metal Domes

Metal domes come in a large variety of shapes and sizes, with actuation forces between 180 to 700 grams. 340 grams is the most common.

Metal domes are typically stainless steel, and are nickel-, silver-, or gold-plated. The selected plating depends on the conductivity requirements of the switch, chosen based on electrical resistance. Nickel is the standard, while gold drives down the resistance. Most screen-printed silver circuits are paired with metal plated domes. Gold plating is typically reserved for copper flex or PCBA-based designs.

Another factor that can determine the plating choice is the need to match the material of the underlying circuit. For instance, gold on gold is a common approach to optimize electrical performance.

Polydomes

Softer and quieter than metal domes, plastic polydomes are another option for engineers to create a desired tactile experience.

To make a polydome, a layer of polyester is screen printed with silver “shorting” pad, and then it is thermo-formed into a dome. This also allows you to create multiple buttons across a single panel, and it is a very cost-effective technique for high-volume switches (after the cost of the initial tooling).

Different actuation forces can be achieved by changing the diameter and height of the polydome to meet your requirements.

Sign up for tips from our interface guru, Ken Boss.

Fill out this short form and we’ll send occasional and useful interface tips directly to your inbox.

"I feel confident that JN White will do my order correctly."

Marie P., Government

"I found working with Sara to be a pleasant experience. We were trying to dial in the color to get just the right look on the printed substrate...Sara sent us a sample print sheet that had several variations, up and down, from the colors we specified, which allowed me to pick exactly the color we wanted. The end result product is perfect!"

Don M., Safety

"Our department has used JN White for a number of years for our inspection labels. They always respond very quickly when we contact them to place an order and communication is great with any questions we have. Highly recommend them."

Jim R., Government

"Easy process and great people to work with."

Richard Z., Military

"I'm very satisfied with your service. Always looking forward to bring the best!"

Ramses Z., Medical Devices

"JN White is very responsive to their customers. Product is delivered as expected...and they provide quality products. They have a clear understanding of the obstacles facing US based customers regarding the entire supply chain."

Bob M., Point of Sale

"We always deal with Steve Matacz. He is the best at making sure all details are perfect. Timely communication with any questions we have."

Paul A., Recreational

"Customer response time is one of the best; always prompt and helpful. On-time performance the last 12 months is 100%."

RoseMarie C., Utilities

"Customer service, quality and lead time are great! No complaints."

Sara H., Medical Devices

Designed and developed by