Today Tactile Switch is an important part of many electronic/electrical equipment to enhance usability and efficiency. These present the PCB (Printed Circuit Boards) to take the user inputs. The primary purpose of a switch is to open or close an electronic circuit. While designing the PCB, its membrane switches are also finalized. Additionally, before creating a custom membrane switch, one must consider how an operator will use it in a machine. There are two types of membrane switches common in any PCB board, tactile and non-tactile. By the way, a switch of any type is the main part of almost all kinds of electronic devices.
What is a Tactile Switch?
The working of switches with the tactile response is like another electronic switch. Additionally, this creates a physical sensation when pushed to open a circuit! So a human can feel the ‘snapping’ sensation on the finger while pressing this switch to control a circuit. This kind of sensation is also known as tactile feedback, so the switch has its name. Thus, a tactile response can guarantee that your command goes to an electronic device.
How does a Tactile Feedback Switch work?
Physical feedback or sensation by a single press can help a user know that the circuit is now active or disabled. How does it work? Well, there are four components inside a tactile electromechanical switch,
1) Base – It is usually made up of resin to attach all the switch components,
2) Plunger – Its purpose is to relay the force of press to the contact dome,
3) Contact Dome – It works to reverse the applied force and drive current between the contacts to connect/disconnect the circuit), and
4) Cover – The main purpose is to protect the internal parts of the switch.
The base further includes terminals and contacts. The terminals can either be mounted on the surface or placed inside insert holes on the PCB.
The plunger consists of a resin or elastic material in these switches that go up automatically after being pressed. For example, silicon rubber forms webbing for Membrane switches.
What are the Different Types of Tactile Switches?
You can find two varieties of these switches, sealed and non-sealed!
Sealed switches also include a film and a push-button as compared to the elements of the standard tactile switches.
By the way, there are many ways to categorize these switches designed to work for different use cases. Here are they;
1) Low-profile and small-sized types.
2) Medium and Long stroke types.
3) As per how they are set on a PCB:-
a) Surface-mounted terminals types;
i) Long-stroke types,
ii) Medium stroke types (sealed),
iii) Ultra Subminiature Types, and
iv) Standard Types.
b) Insert-hole terminals types;
i) Hinge Lever types,
ii) Radial Taping Packaging (sealed),
iii) Horizontal Push Button Types, and
iv) Standard Types.
7 Benefits of using Switches with Tactile Feedback;
1) Simple to use, no complexity.
2) It can resist Environmental pollutants and moisture.
3) It is designed to have a durable nature.
4) There are fewer chances of errors in operating these switches.
5) One can also add backlighting on these switches to improve visibility in dark or night conditions.
6) The switch can be used for a long period.
7) A user can enjoy or be satisfied with using this kind of switch.
What are the Applications of Tactile Switches?
They are highly suitable for many purposes due to their mechanical feedback, high reliability, and low profile. The main highlights of their use cases are;
1) These switches can be used in PCBs of various electronic and electrical components.
2) To design electronic equipment related to Aerospace and Aviation.
3) These are embedded inside the gamepads of many consoles to enhance the Gaming Experience.
4) They are also a part of our common life equipment like Computer keyboards.
5) These are some of the best mediums to put commands to be used in Human-Machine Interfaces.
6) Switches with tactile response can add functions on many industrial, medical, and commercial equipment. For example, they are present in the control panels for operating measuring devices or vending machines.
7) These small switches are also useful in controlling electronic machines in the defense sector.
A tactile switch might consist of two or multiple conductive paths. It acts as an interface between the human and the machine to deliver necessary communications/signals. You will receive a typing feel or a tactile bump with a quiet audible click for acknowledging the input. A user can realize the exact point of activating the key. Switches with tactile response are there in the mechanical keyboards. Overall, it is the main component of much modern business equipment like Input devices!