Unveiling the Inner Workings: Exploring the Typical Structure of Membrane Switches"

Flexible combination among overlay, dome array and printed or etching circuit board could accomplish complicated electrical function in extremely durable and thin layers.


Membrane switch is defined as "a momentary switch device in which at least one contact is on, or made of, a flexible substrate." by the ASTM (American Society for Testing and Materials). A basic membrane switch structure includes overlay, spacer, printed circuit with tail, and back adhesive. Different layers can be purchased separately or sealed as a turn-key solution. Depending on the client’s requirements, the construction can go with variety, such as switching overlay to be SRK, printed circuit to be etched circuit board, PCB and FPC.

Typical Structure of Membrane Switch 

Each layer of the membrane switch plays a vital role in its overall functionality, combining to provide a user-friendly and responsive interface for controlling electronic devices or systems. 

1.Graphic overlay: 

The graphic overlay is the top layer of a membrane switch, serving as the interface between the user and the switch. It typically consists of a durable and visually appealing material with printed graphics, symbols, and labels that communicate the switch's functionality. The graphic overlay allows users to easily identify and interact with the switch, providing a visually pleasing and informative experience.

2.Adhesive film: 

The adhesive film, also known as the adhesive layer, is a crucial component that facilitates the attachment of the membrane switch. This layer ensures a secure and reliable bond, keeping the switch in place during regular use. The adhesive film is carefully selected to provide strong adhesion while maintaining flexibility and durability.

3.Upper circuit layer: 

The upper circuit layer, also referred to as the circuitry layer or the front side circuit, contains the conductive traces and contact points necessary for the switch's electrical functionality. It is commonly made using screen-printing techniques, incorporating conductive inks or metals. When a user presses on the graphic overlay, the upper circuit layer enables electrical connections to be made, allowing signals to be sent to the device or system being controlled.


The spacer layer, also called the tactile layer or dome retainer layer, is positioned between the upper and lower circuit layers. It is responsible for creating a gap or space that provides the necessary tactile feedback when the switch is pressed. The spacer layer is available in various thicknesses and materials to achieve the desired actuation force and tactile response. Additionally, it helps protect the lower circuit layer from inadvertent contact with the upper circuit layer.

5.Lower circuit layer: 

The lower circuit layer, also known as the backside circuit or the rear circuit, complements the upper circuit layer by providing additional conductive traces and contact points. It facilitates the electrical pathways required for the switch's operation, completing the electrical circuit when pressed. The lower circuit layer is typically constructed using similar techniques as the upper circuit layer, ensuring reliable and consistent electrical conductivity.

6.Back adhesive:

The back adhesive layer is the bottom layer of a membrane switch, featuring an adhesive material that securely affixes the switch to the desired surface. This layer ensures that the membrane switch remains firmly in place during operation and withstands environmental factors such as vibrations or temperature variations. The back adhesive provides reliable bonding and allows for easy installation onto various substrates or equipment.

Design Considerations and Manufacturing Process:

Key design considerations include determining the actuation force, selecting the appropriate tactile feedback mechanism, and evaluating the expected lifecycle of the switch. Environmental factors like temperature extremes, humidity, and chemical exposure must also be taken into account when choosing materials. The manufacturing process involves precision printing techniques to create the conductive traces and contact points on the circuit layers. Lamination and cutting processes are then employed to assemble and shape the layers into the final membrane switch design.

Conclusion with Future Trends and Advancements:

Looking ahead, the future of membrane switch technology holds exciting prospects. Advancements in material science are expected to bring forth even more robust and flexible materials, enhancing the switches' resistance to extreme conditions. Furthermore, advancements in printing techniques and technology integration may lead to more complex and feature-rich membrane switches, such as touch-sensitive interfaces and integrated sensors. With ongoing research and development, the potential for further innovation in membrane switch design and functionality is promising, paving the way for enhanced user experiences in the years to come.

As a leading supplier, JOESMEN offers advanced membrane switches to major industrial and medical industries where reliability and quality are the major concerns. Our year of experience in supplying membrane switch guarantees the electrical reliability and graphic excellence you need.