Keyboards are an essential component in many modern-day electronic devices. In a nutshell, keyboards allow users to control and operate computers and other devices through commands or typing.
Although there are a few different types of keyboards, mechanical and membrane keyboards are the most commonly used.
Today, we’ll dive into membrane keyboards, how they work, and their advantages and disadvantages over their mechanical counterparts.
Membrane Keyboards: An Overview
Membrane keyboards use membrane switches, and the keys are made from pressure pads with letters, symbols, and numbers printed on them. On the other hand, mechanical keyboards are made from individual keys with their own switches. The membrane keyboard’s design allows it to be smaller and more compact.
Membrane keyboards are made from three layers: two membrane layers sandwich an inert middle layer with conductive traces underneath. When a key is pressed, the top membrane layer is pushed downward and makes contact with the traces, completing the electric circuit and actuating the key.
Types of Membrane Keyboards
There are two types of membrane keyboards – flat key and dome key. All the keys are printed on one pressure pad with flat key membrane keyboards. With dome key membrane keyboards, the switch design incorporates a rubber dome that sits above the membrane layers. Dome key membrane keyboards are designed to feel more tactile to the user.
Although a dome key membrane keyboard mimics the way a mechanical keyboard feels, both dome key and flat key designs are still classified as membrane keyboards because they both utilize one pressure pad. They have a single rubber-like layer instead of individual keys with their own switches.
The Advantages of Membrane Keyboards
Membrane keyboards have distinctive advantages over mechanical keyboards. For one, a membrane keyboard’s design allows them to be smaller, more compact, and portable, making them compatible with a wide array of electronic devices.
Membrane keyboards are also quieter to operate than mechanical keyboards, and their simple design also means they are inexpensive to build and maintain.
Membrane keyboards are more resilient than mechanical keyboards. Because they are sealed, they are more resistant to dirt and liquid spills. This – and the fact that they are less expensive than mechanical keyboards – is why they are the go-to choice for most office computer setups.
Another advantage of membrane keyboards is that they don’t have individual keys with their own moving parts. This means they are more robust and have a longer lifespan than their mechanical counterparts.
The Disadvantages of Membrane Keyboards
While membrane keyboards come with several advantages, they have disadvantages too. The main disadvantage of membrane keyboards is that they lack tactile feedback for the user.
The keys on mechanical keyboards spring back up when pressed, so they are preferred by users like gamers and typists because they want their keyboards to feel more reactive. Membrane keyboards are designed differently from mechanical keyboards, providing less tactile feedback.
Another disadvantage to membrane keyboards is that they can be difficult to clean because they are made up of one pressboard – the individual keys can’t be removed.