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PCBA Membrane Switch – Choose The Optimal Switching Technology For Your Interface

PCBA Membrane Switch – Choose The Optimal Switching Technology For Your Interface

May 26, 2021


A membrane switch (PCBA), just like an electrical switch, turns the circuit on and off. These controls are slightly different from standard mechanical switches; however, the physics is the same. When the two poles come in contact, the circuit closes, and the current flows. Nevertheless, membrane switches are advantageous because they are eco-friendly. Membrane switches are of many different types,

  • Tactile membrane switch
  • Non-tactile membrane switches
  • Mixed panels

A printed circuit board assembly or a PCB membrane switch is a touch-sensitive electrical switch that belongs to the mixed panel category. A diverse panel membrane switch is the combination of both tactile and non-tactile membrane switches.


PCBA membrane switch:

A Printed circuit board assembly (PCBA) is a specially designed switch for small electronic items. A PCB membrane switch, as the name implies, consists of a printed circuit board typically made of high conducting materials. The main reason is to offer less resistance to electricity flow. Copper is the primary material commonly used in PCB membrane switches. We use PCB switches in keyboards and keypads.

What is the PCBA membrane switch made of?

Like a burger, the PCB membrane switch has different layers one over another. I will tell you about the PCB membrane switch structure to help you understand its function. The thickness of the PCB switch depends on the layers of the switch. A regular PCB assembly of the switch has the following layers,

  1. A silkscreen
  2. A solder mask
  3. Copper
  4. Fiberglass

·         Silkscreen:

This is the top layer of the PCB membrane switch just above the solder mask layer. This layer is visible to the naked eye. It has many instructions written on it for a better understanding of its use. We often label it with numbers and symbols to elaborate the function of each pin.

·         Soldermask:

A solder mask layer is the second layer. It is just above the copper and below the silkscreen. The primary function of the solder mask is to insulate the copper layer. It covers the whole layer so that copper cannot accidentally come in contact with other metals. Moreover, it is the layer that gives green color to the switch.

·         Copper:

Copper is our conductor. It is an essential component of the PCBA membrane switch. We add a thin layer of copper foil to our board just below the solder mask. We can also add additional layers of copper according to our requirements. The layers can be single or double-sided. The maximum limit is 16 layers of copper foil. Copper layers can increase the thickness of the switch.

·         Fiberglass:

The base material is fiberglass. It is the center layer like the burger patty. This is the core of the PCB membrane switch. It provides rigidity and thickness to the structure.

How is PCB membrane switch a better choice for you?

The use of PCB membrane switches is constantly increasing due to the reliability and durability. However, there are many different types of membrane switches, but why should you go for a PCB membrane switch?

PCB switch provides high electrical conduction:

While making a PCB membrane switch, we use a highly sensitive conductor. We use copper most commonly because of the economic feasibility. However, for better sensitivity, we can also use gold in some of the appliances. PCB works most efficiently with high conductance and low resistance. If the reverse happens, the PCB will perform poorly.

PCB switch can support hard soldering:

Another advantage of PCB over other switches is ‘hard soldering.’ Hard soldering means that the producers do not have to use any adhesive material to stick them together. Instead, each and an individual component can be soldered to create a PCB structure. Only the PCBA switch can provide this type of facility.

PCB switch is heat resistant:

The general assembly of PCBA protects it against heat. You can easily place it in both outdoor and indoor environments. The structure will protect it from the heat of the scorching sun, and there will be no difference in its life span.

PCB switch is water-resistant:

Similarly, the hard soldering of PCB protects it against water intrusion as well. This water resistance contributes to its more prolonged use and reliability. Other types of switches cannot provide this ease.

PCB switch provides customized graphic overlay:

We can select different designs in our PCBA membrane switch. For example, we can choose between pillow or rim embossing, digital printing or screen printing, transparent or tinted display windows. We can also select different textures and UV hard coat surface finishes.

PCB switch offers many design options:

Another advantage of the PCBA switch is that it can directly incorporate LEDs, LCDs, resistors, and other components. In addition, we can choose many different designs of directly embedded LEDs, fiber optic backlighting, electro-luminescent backlighting (EL), right backers, and EMI shielding. Moreover, there is an option for an unlimited choice of connectors.

These are just a few of the benefits of PCB membrane switching. Nevertheless, another important question is why you should prefer PCBA membrane switch over other types of membrane switches. Therefore, I will compare the PCB membrane switches with flex membrane switches.

PCB membrane switches vs. flex membrane switches

Flex membrane switches are also membrane switches. Both PCB and flex are similar in many ways despite there are a few contrasting features,

  • PCB switch is expensive than the flex membrane.
  • Printed Circuit Board switch can accommodate complex circuit patterns as compared to flex membrane switch.
  • PCB switch has a better and thick fiber inner layer, whereas flex membrane switches use a thin inner dielectric material.

The above comparison proves that the PCB may be a bit costly, but it is worth investing your money in.

box-build assembly


In conclusion, the PCB membrane switch is an excellent choice for your interface. You don’t buy things like these every day, so proper knowledge and information are necessary before buying them.

In addition to many benefits, the PCB switch is long-lasting and reliable. Furthermore, it is eco-friendly and water-resistant. The benefits of the PCBA membrane switch sure outweigh other types. Therefore, it should be your obvious choice while looking for the best switching technology.