Panel Builder US

PBUS-27-SCHURTER-MembranceSwitches-400.jpgMay 4, 2021

SCHURTER has a long tradition in the development and manufacturing of customized membrane switches for demanding applications. Based on their know-how, they find the optimal solution even for challenging applications and fields of use.

SCHURTER's high-quality membrane switches are characterized by their reliability in all production processes and environmental conditions and are produced using the latest manufacturing technology and in accordance with the highest industry standards. The qualified materials and processes guarantee the highest quality and meet all requirements. Membrane switches used in highly specialized applications such as in an industrial automation environment or for medical technology must be developed by a manufacturer with in-depth experience. SCHURTER offers this know-how for the benefit of its customers' product development.

Case study 1: Agricultural automation

A membrane switch solution was required for use as an operator interface in an agricultural application. The membrane switch is exposed to extreme conditions such as large temperature fluctuations, high humidity or extreme cleaning conditions. The customer had already installed a competitor's solution in their products, but these failed again and again and thus did not meet the lifetime expectations.

Previous solution

After a detailed investigation by SCHURTER staff, it was found that the competitor's solution failed mainly due to the ingress of liquids. These led to premature failure of the operating unit, causing functional failures of the keys and LEDs.

If the design and material selection of the membrane switches does not meet the high requirements, extreme environmental conditions lead to premature functional failures. In this application, malfunctions had led to maintenance calls, high replacement costs, a damaged reputation and frustrated users. All this damaged the brand and reputation of the company.


SCHURTER's solution

Thanks to SCHURTER's experience, the membrane switch solution was designed to withstand the harsh environmental conditions in a qualified manner. This included a new circuit structure, additional printing of insulation layers in the relevant areas and the revision of the design of the conductor track. SCHURTER's knowledge and experience in this area enabled the appropriate design with correct material selection. The production is carried out in their state-of-the-art machinery. This ensures that the membrane switches function perfectly even when used under extreme conditions in the agricultural environment.

Case study 2: Medical technology

A membrane switch solution was required for use as a control unit for hospital beds. The challenge here was the special lighting option. The membrane switch solution had to contain two homogeneously illuminated areas that could be controlled separately and did not scatter light on each other. The customer had already approached several competitors, but the realisation of the desired lighting failed.

SCHURTER's solution


With their experience also in the special field of lighting options, prototypes of membrane switches with backlighting were quickly developed. Due to the large illuminated area and the small number of LEDs, SCHURTER's experts developed a shaped light guide that was mechanically modified on a laser plotter. This design allows the keypad to be illuminated in the dark in the so-called night design. The patient recognises the keypad and glare caused by overdriving the lighting is prevented. The housing with the membrane keyboard is connected with a semi-transparent plastic moulding. The selection of specially processed materials and a new design made it possible for the illumination to be guided and not to radiate laterally or to the rear. The customer mounted the optimised membrane switches on the new type of hospital bed and thus successfully carried out the certification.

The right membrane keypad for every application

Every SCHURTER membrane switch solution is customised - regardless of whether small or large quantities are involved. A high degree of automation in production ensures consistently high quality and enables us to compete with Asian manufacturers. A membrane switch is the face of your application and reflects your brand in its design. Customer-specific requirements are implemented with the expertise of our engineers. The specifications are also qualified and verified with regard to the lifetime of the membrane switch. The experts at SCHURTER will be happy to advise you on the selection of the optimum membrane switch solution.



Editor's Pick: Featured Product News


Extremely space-saving and flexible

The C60xx series of scalable ultra-compact Industrial PCs combines maximum computing power in what is currently the most compact format with a wide range of options for installation in the control cabinet. It is ideally suited for control, visualization and communication, for example into the cloud.

The latest Intel processors − in three different performance classes, from the Intel Atom with one core to the Intel Core i7 with eight cores – offer maximum scalability and power density with an optimal price-performance ratio.

Performance classes and application areas

The C601x series offers Intel Atom computing power for a wide range of automation and visualization tasks. Due to their impressive computing power in relation to their size, the PCs are mainly suited for use in Industrie 4.0 applications, for example as an IoT gateway.

The C603x series unites high-performance Intel Core-i processors with extremely compact housing dimensions. The processors from the 65 W class have only been used in the much larger ATX-based Industrial PCs up to now. The devices thus represent a new dimension in terms of power density. They are suitable above all for particularly complex automation and visualization tasks, but also for a wide range of other applications in the field of image processing, the handling of large volumes of data and in the IoT environment.

The C602x series is the link between the C601x and the C603x, and the fanless integration of Intel Core-i-U processors of the 15 W class opens up new application areas and options.

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TE Connectivity has recently upgraded its rugged, high-speed Mezalok mezzanine connector family to support the growing demand for higher data rates and improved processing power in military electronics. The upgraded connectors have increased data rate support up to 32+ Gb/s. The Mezalok connector family has been designed specifically for mezzanine cards in rugged applications and is standardized as the interconnect for XMC 2.0 (VITA 61). Rapidly evolving technologies in signal intelligence, radar, communications and surveillance are driving the need for more powerful embedded computing solutions. 

Mezzanine cards are often used to provide additional functionality and processing capability within a small form factor. TE designed the Mezalok connector family to support these applications. Typical applications include application-specific high-speed input/output (I/O) protocols, graphics, memory and digital-signal processing.

“New designs in rugged embedded computing require higher speeds and high pin counts in order to pack more functionality into smaller plug-in modules,” said Jason Dorwart, product manager for TE’s Aerospace, Defense and Marine division. “TE recognizes this trend and is continuing to build on this platform to help solve customer needs, offering new options in stack height, pin density and higher speeds, giving the system designer a broader solution set to work with when needing a fast, rugged and reliable mezzanine connector for extreme environments.” 

TE’s highly reliable Mezalok mezzanine connectors more than double the speed and durability of competing technology, making it one of the most viable options for today’s military and commercial aerospace applications.

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For their next meeting with an OEM or system integrator, can panel builders simply grab their smartphone and project the digital prototype of a control cabinet onto the desk of the managing director? Or right into the customer’s production facility? This admittedly sounds fantastical – but is already a reality. The new augmented reality (AR) add-on for the EPLAN eVIEW Free cloud software, in combination with the free Vuforia app from PTC, enables the free projection of completely assembled control cabinet into virtual space.

With EPLAN eVIEW Free AR, a new augmented reality (AR) application, EPLAN now brings the digital twin wherever users happen to find themselves. Designers can share their 3D designs of the control cabinet layout from EPLAN Pro Panel with co-workers and business partners via the cloud. EPLAN Program Manager Digitalisation Tim Oerter oversees the development of AR solutions and explains how to get started with EPLAN eVIEW Free AR: “A control cabinet is constructed in EPLAN Pro Panel and subsequently uploaded to the EPLAN ePULSE cloud environment. This makes it possible to share 3D designs with other users within an ePULSE organisation.” This also automatically generates both a link and a QR code that can be forwarded to the desired recipients. They can then use their smartphone or tablet computer to scan the code using the gratis app Vuforia View from PTC. Now the 3D design can be displayed anywhere using the camera of the end device – and can thus be projected onto a desktop or in the production environment as examples. Changes can also be made by touching any control cabinet components: simply tap the component and the system opens the 2D view of the schematics, for instance for further finetuning using the redlining and greenlining functions.

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