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One-stop control and connectivity solutions provider.
One-stop control and connectivity solutions provider.


Membrane Switch: 7 key parameters to control

Little history of component assembly
I am old enough to remember the time when components had long leads and PCB had holes other than these tiny via holes. It was a time when components were mounted on a bare PCB. By inserting the component leads into holes that were drilled on the PCB and soldered to pads situated on the opposite side.
In the 1980’s SMT (Surface Mounted Technology) became very popular and eventually replaced the very reliable through hole soldering technique. SMT components either had smaller leads, or no leads at all which allow them to be smaller. Simultaneously by eliminating component holes in the bare PCB. Designers were given more real estate and boards became smaller and high density.

From high temperature solder to low temperature conductive epoxy
The use of high temperature resistant bare board substrate (i.e. very expensive) is more driven by the soldering process than by the application conditions. In both wave soldering and oven reflow processes the temperature rises above 200degC.
In Flexible Printed Electronic, process engineers have replaced the high temperature solder with low temperature conductive epoxy. Which allowed low temperature material as PET (Mylar) to be used as alternative to expensive Polyimide (Kapton).

A decade ago Vmanx has developed a unique low temp SMT component assembly process composed of 6 phases.
Chip bonder dispensing
Conductive epoxy dispensing
Pick and place
Thermal curing
Thermal curing
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Single Point LED Backlighting
#Membrane switch

As membrane switch users began to search for a better user experience, backlighting was seen as an area that could be enhanced. Newer constructions are using side fire LEDs to light entire keycap text and various icons on a panel to make the lighting more intuitive.

Vmanx membrane switches can be built with surface mount LEDs embedded into the switch package to provide a cost effective way for backlighting. This construction would use top fire, single point LEDs which would typically light a small window next to a key or in the corner of a key.
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Membrane Switch Description
##Membrane Switch

Membrane switches are used in many consumer products as well as many industrial applications.
Some of the most common applications for a membrane switch include:
medical equipment
industrial control panels
retail equipment
household appliances
consumer products

Household appliances like microwave ovens and stoves are operated by membrane switches. Vending machines, kiosks, exercise equipment, and gasoline pumps are other common retail/consumer applications. In industry, any manufacturing equipment can have a control panel with a membrane switch. Medical test equipment and HVAC controls are also good examples of uses for membrane switches.

We offer membrane switches that perform, with long life cycles and high durability. Our membrane switches come in a variety of shapes, sizes and materials, but share these common features and benefits:
Easy to use interface
Easy to clean hard surface, resists moisture, abrasions
Long life at low cost – the average switch life is 500,000 to 5,000,000 actuations
Reliable, attractive, customized user interface
Custom design flexibility – match with existing components, graphics, shape, color, branding
Custom switch features – embedded LED, backlighting
Short lead times

Article comes from China membrane switch manufacturer – Vmanx,website is

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#Membrane switch

In the screen printing industry, color matching is the process where color swatches or samples are used to compare and match colors so that the product is precisely the right quality that the customer wants and needs. Here at vmanx, we typically use the Pantone Color Matching System – a booklet of hundreds of color chips that we use to standardize each customer’s products and equate them with their unique ink mixing formulas.

Color matching takes training, discipline and an understanding of everything that makes color look the way it does. There are many different factors and variables that effect color in screen printing and must be taken into account when designing a new part.

This article is the first of a series concerning variables that effect color matching.
The Material
The material or substrate that is printed on makes a difference in the color that is printed on it. There is color casting - a natural color in every substrate and it is nearly impossible to get a completely clear material to print on so this must be considered before choosing both a material and color.

In the printed window shown above, you can see the effect that texture has on the color as the half moon shapes are untextured while the textured areas are lighter in color. 

Here at vmanx, we most commonly print on either polyesters or polycarbonates. Some polyesters are already very clear, but have a reflective quality about them. Meanwhile, there are other polyesters are textured with a natural yellow coloring. The same thing goes for polycarbonates – there are some that are very clear and others that are textured with a natural blue color.

Different brands have different characteristics to keep in mind. Some materials are a solid color, such as white. White is a broad term and can come in many different shades, which also affects the color. This is a big consideration in the printing world, especially in digital printing.

vmanx also prints on vinyl and 3M label stock which can either be matte, glossy or even come in different colors, all of which affect the appearance of the ink.

vmanx prints on metal surfaces such as rolled steel, powder coated, aluminum, smooth anodized, raw metal, and brushed aluminum. Epoxy or enamel inks are used on these surfaces and can be affected by the different metal surfaces depending on their color and texture. Metals like brushed aluminum will have a metallic surface which changes the appearance of the ink, especially opaque colors.

Both of the color swatches shown above show the same color. However, the one on the right has a white back flood while the swatch on the left does not. Notice that the swatch on the left is slightly transparent because the ink has no backing to it. The colors themselves look drastically different as the swatch with the white backer flood looks more vibrant.

Inks can also either be printed on the front or back of the material. By printing on the backside of the material, it would have to be taken into account the effect of the substrate’s natural color and the texture of the material, which will dull the color and either give it a matte or glossy finish.

Even printing on the front of the material, the color of the ink can be affected, particularly if it is slightly transparent. The material, adhesive and liners can be seen through the material and the ink as well, affecting the overall look of the product. It is really what the ink is set on that matters most, as it will have the biggest effect on the color.

This Pantone booklet shows a matte finish, which was offset printed on paper, while the overlay uses the same color screen printed on plastic. To the trained eye, the colors are different - but still use the same formula. The cause for the difference in color: the material.

In the screen printing industry, we use the Pantone Color Matching System as a guide and follow it as closely as possible. However, the Pantone books are offset printed on paper while vmanx screen prints on plastics, second surface, with textures and finishes. As discussed earlier in this article, material makes a difference in the appearance of the color and therefore, makes color matching a more challenging feat than at first glance.
Next article: How color effects color matching.

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#membrane switch

In the screen printing industry, color matching is the process where color swatches or samples are used to compare and match colors so that the product is precisely the right quality that the customer wants and needs. Here at VMANX, we typically use the Pantone Color Matching System – a booklet of thousands of color chips that we use to standardize each customer’s products and equate them with their unique ink mixing formulas. Color matching takes training, discipline and an understanding of everything that makes color look the way it does. There are many different factors and variables that affect color in screen printing and must be taken into account when designing a new part.

Color is a property of light and what we see is the result of certain colors being reflected and absorbed by the object itself. Our eyes are picking up the colors that are being reflected off the object. Because of this, colors can appear to match under one source of light while look drastically different under another. This is what is called metamerism, which occurs because there are difference in wavelengths and color absorption in different lighting sources. Sources of light include natural, incandescent, cool white fluorescent, broadband white fluorescent, TL84 and Ultralume 3000lighting. VMANX understands that there is a need for standardization in these circumstances and therefore use color viewing booths to assure a level of control so that color matching is as accurate and consistent as possible. These color viewing booths take into account color quality, light intensity, and evenness of illumination.

Our Own Eyes
All human eyes are different when it comes to perceiving color. Some people pick up more colors than others and few see less or have color impairments. In combination with all the other properties that effect color as we’ve talked about before, the slightest variations and environments can produce massive differences. The best way to guarantee a quality color match is to hold color tolerances which set a guide as to what is acceptable for the customer. Making sure that conditions are accounted and maintained are crucially important for multiple runs.
Standardized conditions assure that color matching is the most accurate, especially between multiple runs of the product. This ensures the best quality products for our customers. At VMANX, we help our customers understand the different variables to take into account while we work together to design the best product for their specific needs. We have color matching experts with years of training and experience that have an eye for detail and can assure the best quality in color matching.

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How to Clean Membrane Switches
#membrane switch

One of the benefits of using membrane switches in product designs is how easy they are to clean. Membrane switches tend to remain more sanitary than mechanical keypads. Think about crumbs, dirt and particles that fall in between the keys of a computer keyboard.

That same type of debris contaminates other types of keypads that have cracks and spaces between keys. Dust and particles can be the least of the concerns in certain environments. Healthcare facilities are an example where the cleanliness of devices is imperative. Infection control is a top concern in healthcare and when dealing with bodily fluids, sanitation and cleaning is top of mind. Maintaining clean membrane switches is important.

Every device and membrane switch is unique. Many come with their own specific cleaning instructions. Always follow those instructions to avoid damaging your product. In general, there are some cleaning tips that we like to share.

Specialized cleaning – Sanitizing agents and disinfecting wipes can be used on a variety of membrane switches depending on the material they are made of. Check if your cleaning agent of choice is compatible with the material your membrane switch is made of before using this approach. Isopropyl alcohol is a common cleaning agent because of its quick dry ability.

Continued Maintenance – Wipe down your membrane switch on a regular basis and prevent it from getting excessively dirty. With most things, preventative maintenance allows it to function and remain presentable for extended periods of time.

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Vmanx made membrane switch
#membrane switch

Membrane switches are an important part of your product. Protection, identification and instructional information assure that the right information is presented in a way that works with your product design and engineering and that the information is communicated properly to the device for operational practice.

Fast and reliable, Vmanx Labels can manufacture a membrane switch that links machine operation with human interface. Touch sensitive, the pads are printed on stable, heat resistant materials with graphic overlays that customize the look and feel of your product. Membrane switches are used most often for control panels, medical devices, retail POP, detection or measurement equipment as well as electronics.

Vmanx Labels design engineers who will work with you to meet your exact specifications and help you choose the right materials for your project. Graphics are as important as the layers that operate the machine, they are the images that help the user communicate with the device and ensure safety and reliability in your product.

When designing the membrane switch a few things to consider are Embossing, hard textured coating, and transparent windows and back lighting. No matter the product, Vmanx Labels has the imaging capabilities, materials and expertise to provide you the best product possible.
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Why is the Hybrid decal better than the old approach?

Cost Savings without compromising Quality
High quality, ultra durable finishes of industrial printed products with the added benefits of digital technology
Unlimited colours can be used with no increase in the overall price.
Variable data can be incorporated. Alternate logos, descriptions, part numbers, serial numbers, barcodes can all be added easily.
Label Sets have become increasingly popular. Clients are able to combine a number of parts for considerable cost savings.
Very short run work can be completed affordably and jobs can be grouped to achieve further savings.
Variety and Design
Colours and text can change at no cost. Logos and information can vary for any quantities.
Vmanx Industries propriety processes and preparation of materials ensures a consistent and high quality bond between substrate, ink and adhesive. A result that is very difficult to achieve.
Digital print technology allows designs features that were simply impossible to screen print. Combination colours, translucent windows, vignettes, fades and small detailare just an example of what is now achievable.

How does this help me?
Your business is now free to quickly and easily make changes to keep up with the market. Typically, the branding and labelling of a product was a long term commitment and if it wasn’t done right first time, the company’s marketing would suffer as a result. Now, you have the ability to brand differently for different global markets; you can customise to incorporate a clients logo; add barcodes and serial numbers to track products; combine quantities to get better price breaks.
All this and more can be done quickly and affordably without any of the challenges of the past.
More variety for your labelling and branding solutions.
Same high quality materials and finishes. Polycarbonates, polyesters, aluminium and stainless can all be used.
Better economies of scale to create and then change solutions to suit a changing market.
More design options to make your branding stand out.
Price reductions for multiple colour work.
Flexibility to meet particular clients’ needs.
Label sets to combine labels for standard parts, creating considerable cost savings.
Print features for your designers to work with that your competitors haven’t used.

How does it work?
vmanx Industries has always invested heavily in research and development. The solutions are provided using proprietary preparation and printing processes that we guarantee. There is no compromise to the durability of our final solutions and by using laser cutting technology we can offset tooling and die costs to make solutions even more affordable.
Comprehensive R&D to determine the best digital equipment, ink, substrates, preparation and processing of industrial print solutions.
Ongoing work with clients and industrial designers willing to test the boundaries of what is possible.
Consolidation of processes to ensure quality controls are locked in.
Full production workflows for the range of options and techniques available.
Ongoing testing of substrates – polycarbonates, polyesters, PETG, acrylic films to measure their performance in a range of environments.

What are the product options?
Variable data decals – serial numbers, alternate logos, alternate text and colours
Label kits – combination of decals to achieve better economies of scale
Digitally printed decals – polyester, polycarbonate, polyurethane, PETG and acrylic films
Indoor rated through to externally rated UV durable decals
Short run to full production quantities
Membrane switches, graphic facias, decals, overlays and labels.

Vmanx Industries’ Hybrid printing solutions have introduced all new possibilities for industrial printing.
The digital approach is a better option for cost savings, variety of colours, text and logos, advanced design features and flexibility of quantities and print runs.
You can benefit through price reductions, variety in design, fast turnarounds and flexibility – all with the same high quality materials and finishes.
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Capacitive Sensing
keyword:touch switch

When a finger touches the overlay touch surface, it forms a simple parallel plate capacitor with the sensor pad through the overlay. The result is called finger capacitance and is a simplification of a distributed capacitance that includes the effects of the human body and the return path to the circuit board ground within the Vmanx sensor. We then interpret this touch using an ADC method. A current source generates a linear voltage ramp on a capacitor. This voltage is input to an analogue comparator circuit. The comparator’s output is monitored and a counter increments whenever it transitions from high to low.

The VMANX sensor includes firmware with algorithms which convert the sensor capacitance into a digital count, called raw count. The raw count is interpreted as either a TOUCH or NO TOUCH state for the sensor, within the firmware. The numerical value of the raw count is the digital representation of the sensor capacitance, and increases as the capacitance increases. Sensitivity is a measure of how much the output will change for a given change on the input. The sensitivity of the VMANX sensor is optimised to give best overall performance in a broad range of conditions. The illustration below shows a representation of the raw count of a sensor in the touched and untouched states.

Vmanx’s capacitive sensing method uses a switched capacitor circuit on the front end of the system to convert the sensor capacitance to an equivalent resistor. The current measured through the equivalent resistor is converted into a digital count. When a finger is on the sensor, the capacitance increases and the equivalent resistance decreases. This causes an increase in current through the resistor, resulting in an increase in the digital count, which is interpreted as a touch.
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Touch Screens
Keyword: membrane switch

Touch-sensitive Screens traditionally considered to be the simplest of the four technologies, resistive touch screens are now emerging as perhaps the most popular devices for use in a range of industrial applications. This is largely due to their simplicity which results in relatively low costs and a long operating life. Combined with excellent resolution, good optical clarity and resistance, and the ability to operate with all types of stylus, these advantages provide the flexibility and resilience required to adapt to a range of industrial environments.
Membrane Switch specialises in the development and manufacture of resistive touch screen technologies to provide a simple to use alternative to mouse and keyboard operation.
Resistive touch screens consist of two polyester layers coated on the inner surfaces with a thin transparent conductive material, indium tin oxide, and separated by a series of non conductive spacer dots. When the front of the screen is touched, the layers come into contact. This alters the voltage across the two layers, allowing a controller to detect the change and calculate the position in which the screen has been touched.

This thin flexible assembly can be mounted onto a rigid glass panel for clarity and rigidity or, for applications where glass is unsuitable, on a polycarbonate back panel. Two forms of resistant touch screens are available: matrix screens offer simplicity and reliability for high volume applications, while analogue screens give the exceptionally high resolution and accuracy essential for driving software written for hand-held pointing devices, such as mice or pen plotters.  
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