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26 Jul 2016

How to Design Backlighting on your Membrane Keypad

How to Design Backlighting on your Membrane Keypad

The backlighting of a membrane keyboard is an essential feature, which helps users see functions clearly as well as giving signs with colours and flashes. There are a lot of options to consider when designing a membrane keypad, from the durable material to embossing, and backlighting is another important feature which needs careful consideration.

At Fascia Graphics, we create membrane keyboards for a variety of industries, and many of them have to withstand difficult environments. Backlighting for some equipment is essential, to light up buttons in dark spaces. Other times it is used to highlight certain functions or illuminate the entire surface. It can also be used in outdoor spaces, but you’ll need to consider the type of light to make sure it is viewable.

LEDs

One of the most popular types of lighting for membrane keyboards and switches is LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes). LEDs are cost effective, eco-friendly as they use little energy and generate little heat. This lighting technique has many advantages, including its long life (around 100,000 hours) and the variety of colours and intensities.

LEDs can be easily embedded into a membrane keypad, and you can have many different colours including red, green and blue. It’s good to think about the use of colour in your membrane keyboard design, as people associate certain colours with actions. You also have the option of the level of intensity of the individual LED, with some created for outdoor viewing.

Fibre Optic Lighting

If you want to illuminate a larger area on the membrane switch, LEDs can be used in conjunction with fibre optic lighting. This is a cost effective method of backlighting, and you still get the effective power consumption rates and reliability of the LED option. Light from the light source (LED) is evenly distributed under the graphic overlay using thin plastic fibres. This can give a general brightness to a keypad, and this type of backlighting can withstand extreme temperatures.

Electroluminescent Lighting

This type of lighting (EL) coverts electrical energy into light. They also consume very little power, but are best used for applications where the backlight isn’t on constantly. Electroluminescent lighting also offers limited colour options, so is best used as a general backlighting. It works well with raised buttons as an illuminated border.

If you need some backlighting design inspiration, get in touch with our technical experts – they will tell you what’s possible and advise on the best solution for the type of equipment.

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