If you’re having trouble understanding how and why membrane switches are useful and important tools, consider this situation. You and a few friends have gathered in your living room to watch a game on TV. The gathering involves a lot of food and drinks, which,combined with spontaneous outbursts in reaction to the game, is a recipe for disaster. One of your friends, whose personality is characterized by a combination of hyper excitability and limited spatial awareness, inadvertently knocks a plate of sticky snacks over onto your remote,which is on the floor. There are two ways that this story could end.
Here’s the first way. If your remote is composed of a plastic shell and several individual buttons, you have at best a protracted and annoying cleaning effort ahead of you. At worst, the snack could get plugged in between the buttons and maybe even ruin the device. This situation is not far fetched, and it can be extrapolated to scenarios involving other electronic devices that can be ruined by spills, such as phones, PDAs and other electronics.
Here’s the second way the story could end. If your remote is composed of a plastic shell with a single switch membrane, you can simply wipe off the surface and resume watching the game. Membrane switches are composed of several layers of membranes that allow users to interact with the devices’ circuitry without the possibility of contaminating it. These devices are prized also because they can, in certain configurations, resist hazardous climatic conditions like moisture or dust accumulation, which means that some membrane switches are suitable for use outdoors. Imagine the implications for industry, where hazardous materials can frequently be in use. They also involve fewer moving parts than other kinds of keypads and switches, which means that they feature fewer things that can go wrong. For these reasons, membrane switches are very popular and important utilities.
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