Utilizing Metal Domes in Your Keypad Design

If you’re in the market for custom silicone keypad that require a tactile response, you may consider metal domes. They’re ideal for this type of application, comprised of durable stainless steel and featuring several different coating options that impact resistance. Formerly, these domes used a flex circuit, PCB (printed circuit board), or membrane switch.

metal dome

metal dome

Types of Metal Domes

Today, Best Technology installs these domes utilizing a metal dome array – a double-sided adhesive that holds the metal domes which can easily peel away from a liner and attach all of the domes to the circuit precisely.

There are four main types of metal domes:

Circle

Four-Leg

Triangle

Oblong

  1. Circle Metal Domes

Circle metal domes are, indeed, circular, and may also be referred to as round metal domes or circle tactile domes. They’re ideal for applications requiring a low profile switch under a membrane overlay. Not only do circle domes have a longer life cycle than triangle domes, they cost about the same. A circle dome measures between 3mm to 20mm in diameter, with a range of force of 100-60 gf.

  1. Four-Leg Metal Domes

Also known as the cross metal dome, four-leg metal domes are used in applications where traces of positive and negatives can be designed underneath the dome on the same side of the circuit. They have a better clicking feel than circle and oblong domes but have a shorter life cycle than circle domes. They’re the tallest of all the domes and should not be used in low-profile applications. They range in size from 5mm-20mm, with a 125-500 gf range of force.

snap dome

snap dome

  1. Triangle Domes

Triangle domes also have a good click feeling but have limitations when it comes to space. Used in applications that require large activation forces, triangle domes range up to 6,000 gf. They feature legs, which means they can be mounted to the circuit board without needing adhesive. The result? These domes can be used in high-temperature applications. They have a range of size between 5mm-13mm.

  1. Oblong Metal Domes

Also known as oval or rectangle metal domes, these are used on low profile switches on circuit boards with little to no room. This is where their long and narrow shape comes in handy. The dome size varies between 3mm X 4mm up to 51 mm X 13.70mm, featuring a force range between 100 and 500 gf.

It seems there are always new kinds of metal domes becoming available every year, with features such as backlighting for circuit boards with center mounted LEDs. You can even get custom-built metal domes on request. Here at Best Technology, we have experience with all types of metal domes, as well as custom dome arrays.

Contact Best Technology

If you would like a quote on metal domes, contact us anytime and our sales representative will reply you at our earliest convenience.

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How to Assemble Dome Array on PCB Firmly?

Some customers may come across the problems that they can’t assemble the dome array on PCB firmly. I think this may be caused by the followings:

Assemble Dome Array on PCB

Assemble Dome Array on PCB

First, there are some dust and stains on the PCB, so the PCB must be clear;

Second, the forceps or other toolings should be used to peel off the protective film of dome array, please don’t use the hand directly;

Third, please press slightly after you stick it on the PCB.

Via the above three steps, I think the dome array will be firmly assembled on your PCB.

metal dome array

metal dome array

If you need more information, please contact us or see our FAQs.

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Tactile or Non-Tactile, That is the Question

Tactile, tactile feel, or tactile feedback is a touch sensation developed or added to enhance the user experience. Tactile sensations in touch sensors are often referred to as haptic feedback. Here we will be focusing specifically on membrane switches and why someone may (or may not) choose to include tactile domes to their interface.

metal domes

metal domes

Tactile feedback is known for its ability to enhance the user experience – that crisp snap feel you get when you push a button! This helps the user to confidently know the button is pushed, and is typically achieved through metal domes or formed polyester domes.

User experience is vital, why would anyone choose a non-tactile design for their application? there are actually a number of reasons. A membrane switch without tactile feedback is also known as a “flat switch”; you’ve seen flat switches everywhere, microwaves, gas stations, hot tubs, etc. For applications with extremely high usage, a flat switch lengthens the life – typically they can last 40-50 million cycles (aka how many times the button can be pushed before the circuit begins to fail). A switch with tactile, the life span is reduced to about 1 million cycles.

High temperature applications are better suited with a flat switch for two reasons:

  1. metal domes could be hot to the touch and the graphic overlay would not diffuse the heat;
  2. polyester domes would lose their shape and fall flat.

If the end user is wearing gloves, the crisp snap of a tactile dome might not even be felt, thus leaving the feature unappreciated. Lastly, metal domes, and the added layers and assembly steps would increase the cost of the membrane switch.

tactile & non-tactile

tactile & non-tactile

If you have any other queries about tactile metal dome or non-tactile metal dome, call us anytime, we will get back to you at our earliest convenience.

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How to Tell the Quality of Metal Domes

Nowadays, many customers do not quite understand metal dome. They just know, the cheaper, the better. Actually, this is not right. Metal dome is an important part used for membrane switch, micro switch, printed circuit boards and so on. It plays a role of conducting the electricity. When you press, the circuit will be conducted, and when you release it, the circuit will be cut out automatically. If there is something wrong with the metal dome, your product(metal dome), even the brand of your company will be destroyed because of choosing incorrect metal domes. So, dear friends, please pay attention to the following several problems when choosing metal domes:

metal domes-1

metal domes-1

  1. Service life of metal dome

At present, the service life of many metal domes on the market is not up to the standard. The cross metal domes can only reach 200 thousand to 300 thousand times and the price of them is also very cheap. The metal domes with the service life up to 500 thousand to 1 million are seldom seen in the market. Also, the service life of many round metal domes can just reach 700 thousand to 800 thousand in the market. Well, the price is also very cheap.

2.Force of metal dome

The foreign customers have very rigid requirements for the force of metal domes. That is to say, the force of metal domes used for every products should be even and controlled within a certain tolerance(±20gf). It is not permitted that one metal dome has high force and another metal dome has low force. Moreover, the hand feel of metal domes in various types on the market is unstable, which brought a huge loss for many manufacturers using metal domes normally.

Metal domes-2

Metal domes-2

3.Material of metal domes

Proper material should be chosen when manufacturing metal domes and price can not be treated as a standard. There are three kinds of material on the market: domestic material, South Korean material, and Japanese material. Each kind of material can be divided into several different ones. The real manufacturers will know which kind of materials is better and what kind of requirement the products can meet. While, the biggest disadvantage of metal domes is dead key, which is a fact that the metal dome will not bounce when it is pressed. This is difficult to be found from the appearance unless conducting a test.

4.Appearance of metal dome

When selecting metal domes, pay attention to the appearance in case that they has middle dimple deviation, dirt, scratches, oil stains, pressed marks, etc.

Best Technology Co., Ltd. was founded specifically to serve the membrane switch and related mechanical switch industries. From establishment to now, we have accumulated much experience and obtained many customers resource. The service life of our metal domes can be up to more than 1 million times and our metal domes have passed ISO9001 authoritative quality certification. All the products comply with ROHS standard and we can also provide relevant material report.

Should you have any other queries about metal domes, welcome to contact us anytime. Our sales representative will reply you at our earliest convenience.

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Metal Domes With Dimple and Without Dimple

As there are 2 kinds of metal domes(with or without dimple), many customers are confused. Here, Let me explain details about the metal domes with dimple today:

Metal Dome W/O Dimple(1)

Metal Dome W/O Dimple(1)

Metal Dome(W/O) Dimple(2)

Metal Dome(W/O) Dimple(2)

Metal Dome(W/O) Dimple(3)

Metal Dome(W/O) Dimple(3)

metal dome with dimple

metal dome with dimple

First, the metal domes with dimple increases the travel;

Secondly, the metal domes with dimple has better click feeling when pressing;

Third, the metal domes with dimple has better dust-proof effect;

Now, are you clear about the difference of the two kinds of metal domes? Actually, which kind to use depends on your design.A dimple is used to reinforce or improve the dome contact with the PCB.

If you need more information, please feel free to contact us.

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What are Metal Domes and How to Choose the Right One?

Maybe you don’ t know it (metal dome), but maybe you use it (tactile domes) every day, no matter when you lock and unlock your car or play video games with your kids with the remote control, they (metal dome) could be found in all kinds of electronic products, because of them (metal dome), our lives become better and simple.

So what’s metal dome?

Metal dome (also you can call metal snap dome, or tactile metal dome), made of stainless steel, are momentary switch contacts that, when used in conjunction with a PCB, flex circuit, or membrane switch, become normally-open tactile switches. The life of all metal domes that Best Technology made can be at least one million cycles.

metal dome

metal dome photo

Metal domes typically come in the following shapes:

Four legged

Triangle

Round

Oblong

Custom

How to choose the right one?

The engineers from Best Technology will work very closely with you to decide which kind of metal dome is best for you. Typically speaking, this decision is based on the force of the metal dome (i.e.how soft or hard of a press it takes to actuate the metal dome).

For the past few years, metal domes have grown ever more popular and become the go-to choice for most fields that require a tactile response.

Then, if you’re interested in learning more about our tactile domes, just contact us today. We can help you find the most appropriate tactile domes for your controls, and we will be very willing to answer any questions raised by you. Moreover, we manufacture our metal domes in a state-of-the-art clean room to minimize dust and other particles which are likely to interfere with switch operation or efficiency.

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Two dimensional measuring instrument for metal dome array

Here we would like to introduce a major testing equipment for metal dome array: Two dimensional measuring instrument.

Two dimensional measuring instrument(image measuring instrument or video measuring machine) is used to measure the size of the product and mold, measuring factors including location, concentricity, straightness, contour, roundness and size and so on. Here are some features as below:

1) Any measuring in plane geometry, including the diameter, radius, length, angle, width, height, depth, distance from point to point, point to line distance, from the center and so on.
2) Has a parts camera, making comparison more intuitive.
3) Software can always analyze measurement data.
4) Measurement data can be imported directly into Word, Excel for analysis.
5) Has the function of automatic boundary, making measurements more quickly and accurately.
6) Shortcuts feature that allows the operator to measure quickly and easily.
7) Can be saved in DXF format, seamless transfer of data with AutoCAD software.
8) Can be edited directly in AutoCAD, so that it will be more convenient and faster to use the measurement results for processing.

The Two dimensional measuring instrument can measure the metal dome and metal dome array such as metal dome diameter, metal dome array size, hole to hole, hole to metal dome as well as our molds.

If you are still confused, just contact us and we will get back to you at our soonest convenience.

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A Dimple for Metal Dome Design

Metal domes underneath membrane switches help keep the membrane from remaining in contact with the key at all times. The domes also help conduct the electricity through the keypad, sending a clearer signal to the circuits of the unit, preventing misfiring and other problems that can occur when the circuitry is out of alignment. The dome design also retains a high level of buoyancy, which keeps the dome and key popping back into place after every press. These little metal domes are a vital part of any membrane-based design, and most membrane switch systems use domes for the above-mentioned reasons.

However, there has been a problem with the standard dome design for membrane keypad. Most domes are constructed with a raised, rounded bubble that reaches above the corners of the strip of metal. The corners always rest on the keypad, keeping the dome from coming into contact with the circuit board unless the dome in pushed. The metal “feet” on the button must stay in place securely, otherwise the domes can shift and cause problems with the board.

Unfortunately, with extended use, many of these domes will shift or move over time. This makes them difficult to use, and it is also difficult to fix this issue without replacing the entire keypad. The best solution to this problem has been the addition of a second dome or dimple placed in the center of the original dome, which can reduce the need for a keypad actuator. The actuator normally controls the keys as they are pressed to ensure that they only apply pressure to the designated key, rather than to surrounding keys or buttons. The dimple on the surface of the dome helps keep the key in proper alignment and makes precise accuracy in the placement of the dome or keypad actuator unnecessary.

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Will the dust get in the metal dome array during use?

During the course of using the metal dome array, will the dust get in? This has something to do with the assembly method of metal domes.

For instance, the triangle metal dome with the legs is usually fixed with the two legs on the PCB. During the course, dust easily enters the surface of the PAD through the two slots on the PCB, causing poor conduction.

If it is not properly designed, dust will be easy to enter. For instance, the metal dome is too close to the edge, and the metal dome is easy to put the PET up. During the pressing course, the dust is easy to enter the surface on the PAD of PCB and cause poor conduction.

Would you like to know more details for the design of the metal dome array? Then please contact with us.

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Thank you to our visiting customers

Best is increasingly focused on promoting its products and solutions all around the world, including the market of the Republic of Belarus.

This is why 4 customers from the Republic of Belarus visited Best Technology on Oct 21, 2019, in order to better understand the business we can provide.

In the office

What makes us feel very warm is that the customers also took sweet chocolates. We appreciate for having such considerate customers.

Sweet chocolates

During the meeting, Peter, our general manager and Connie, our salesgirl gave detailed description of the metal dome samples we can provide and the customers shew great interests on them. What’s more, the customers also got understanding of other businesses such as PCB and FPC products we can provide from what was introduced by other 2 salesgirls (Celine and Marina).

When the meeting was coming to an end, the customers signed their names on the signature wall and also said that Best was valued as a distinguished supplier and it was one of the best choices of them to choose to cooperate with Best Technology.

Sign on the signature wall

Here we wish to express our sincere thanks to all the Best staff, who made this event happen and are grateful having had the chance to welcome the awesome customers to our company.

To our customer, thank you for spending your time with us. We enjoy getting to know you and your businesses better. We hope you enjoyed your visit and hope you come back to see us again.

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