Mechanical and Membrane Keyboard Manufacturer

Your Vision, Our Expertise: Redefine Your User Experience with a Custom Keyboard.

Partner with NMG and access our large range of custom-engineered keyboards.
island style keyboard

Why Choose NMG as Your Custom Keyboard Manufacturer to Elevate Your Product?

From medical devices to industrial HMIs, keyboards are often an integral part of a user interface. NMG has experience in implementing mechanical and membrane keyboard technologies for OEMs across a wide range of industries. Our team of engineering experts will partner with you to assess your needs and choose the ideal type of keyboard for your application. We work with you to navigate the various keyboard options to ensure you maximize durability, functionality, and cost:

  • Environmental Conditions: NMG specializes in designing and manufacturing rugged industrial keyboards that need to function in extreme environmental conditions (altitude, heat, extreme weather, etc.).
  • Durability: We have expertise in dome, membrane, scissor, and linear switches and can help you select the ideal switch type, actuation force, and material to meet your application’s durability requirements.
  • User Experience: Our team will assist you in choosing the right keyboard style—full-travel, flat panel, or mechanical—and tactility to enhance accuracy, productivity, and ergonomics for your users.
  • Aesthetics: NMG specializes in complex backlighting and specialty finishes (laser-etching, in-mold decorating, and more) to match your specific branding and visual requirements.
  • Cost: Our extensive network of suppliers means that you can count on our global sourcing capabilities to lower costs and improve your lead time.
mechanical vs membrane keyboards

What Are Membrane Keyboards?

For user interfaces that require a keyboard that’s portable, quiet, and affordable, a membrane keyboard is an excellent choice. NMG designs and manufactures a wide range of membrane keyboards to fit your application’s needs.

Layers of a Membrane Keyboard

When a key or button is pressed, the conductive trace underneath the key touches the conductive trace attached to the circuit inside the keyboard. The circuit has several switches assigned to specific keys. This mechanical contact causes the assigned switch to close and allow the electrical current to flow. This action registers the pressed alphanumeric character or command by sending the corresponding signal to the processing system of the device.

Layers of a membrane keyboard

Image Source: https://switchandclick.com

 

  • The top layer contains all the keys and can be made of plastic or rubber.
  • Below the keys are pressure pads made of thin, flexible rubber or plastic with printed conductive traces on the backside.
  • The "holes" layer separates the pressure pad from the bottom layer so there is no mechanical contact when the key is not pressed.
  • The bottom layer contains printed conductive traces connected to the keyboard’s circuit.

Types of Membrane Keyboards

Flat-panel membrane keyboards have a flat surface with a flexible membrane layer beneath the keys for enhanced durability and tactile response. They use a pressure pad but do not provide feedback when the switch is actuated.

Full-travel membrane keyboards offer a tactile typing experience similar to traditional mechanical keyboards but utilize a membrane switch design. Their keys are directly integrated into the keypad and are made of a single piece of plastic or rubber material. The flexible membrane is placed over a matrix of electrical switches. 

Dome switch keyboards feature characteristics of both a flat-panel membrane keyboard and a traditional mechanical-switch keyboard. Like membrane keyboards, they feature a top layer of silicone rubber. Below this soft and elastic material are metal dome switches. Dome-switch technology typically has a longer lifespan than other types of keyboards. It’s not uncommon for a dome-switch keyboard to last over 5 million switch cycles. Dome switch keyboards offer strong tactile feedback using webbing. The webbing material allows their keys to spring back up after being pressed.

rubber dome membrane keypad diagram
scissor switch keyboard

Scissor-switch keyboards have a plastic, scissor-like mechanism under each of their keys that links the keycap to a plunger, which shortens the travel distance of the key. As opposed to full-travel keyboards, scissor-switch keyboards have a short actuation point, fast key travel, and minimal feedback.

Image Source: https://deskthority.net/wiki/User:Daniel_beardsmore


Island style keyboards
, or chiclet keyboards, are a variation of a membrane keyboard (single rubber sheet with individual electrical switches underneath), with an additional upper layer that provides superior tactile feedback through a buckling mechanism. They’re known for their square or rectangular keys with rounded corners and relatively short height. The individual keys are separated from each other by a perforated plastic plate that runs across the entire keyboard area. They’re quieter than mechanical keyboards and provide a good typing experience.

Island Style Keyboard

Image Source: https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/User:Shyamal

What Are Mechanical Keyboards?

Mechanical keyboards are a popular choice for their durability, accuracy, and customization options.

Layers of a Mechanical Keyboard

  • Keycaps: Two options—uniform and sculpted—can be designed to match your brand’s and application’s aesthetic and required ruggedness.
  • Switches: There are five different categories from which to choose based on desired tactile feel and audible click:
    • Linear: Offers no feedback, audible or tactile, when the key has been activated, to provide the user with constant force throughout.
    • Light tactile: Features a lower level of tactility and slight audible feedback—just enough to know that the keystroke has been activated.
    • Tactile: Presents normal level of tactility and audible feedback when keystroke is generated. They’re popular because they provide conscious feedback yet still require low force.
    • High audible: Provides a very loud “click” sound when the keystroke is activated, but without any increase in force.
    • High force/high audible: Features a buckling spring design where the user needs to fully depress the key in order to activate the keystroke.
  • Plate: holds the switches in place and adds rigidity to the overall build.
  • PCB (printed circuit board): the central unit of your keyboard, which determines the size, features, and layout. 
  • Case: depending on durability requirements, you can use several materials - acrylic, aluminum, plastic (ABS acrylonitrile butadiene styrene).

NMG Keyboard Expertise and Capabilities in Mechanical and Membrane Keyboard Manufacturing

NMG has the technical expertise to meet your tactile feedback, backlighting, and durability requirements for mechanical and membrane keyboards.

Silicone Rubber and Plastic Injection Molding in Keyboard Manufacturing

Component Manufacturing and Assembly for Mechanical and Membrane Keyboard

  • Membrane Overlays
  • PCBs
  • Switches: 
    • Dome switches
    • Scissor switches
    • Membrane switches
  • Backlighting: 
    • Light pipes
    • LED windows

Finishing Techniques for Mechanical and Membrane Keyboard

  • Laser etching 
  • Vacuum metallization
  • Powder coating
  • Screen printing
  • Plastic keycaps with rubber keycap (P+R)​

Applications for Mechanical and Membrane Keyboard

  • Human-Machine Interfaces (HMIs)
  • Industrial Controls
  • Computers and Peripherals
  • Remotes
  • Lab Equipment
  • Medical Devices​

Industries Using Mechanical and Membrane Keyboard

  • Medical
  • Consumer Electronics
  • Industrial
  • Security
  • Construction

Ready to Start a Project Today?

Read Our Blog

Access industry updates, helpful how-tos, engaging infographics, and other resources for engineers and supply chain professionals on the NMG Blog.

View more blog posts

Get in Touch

We can’t wait to create winning solutions with you.

For general inquiries, please fill out this form and our team will be in touch shortly.

or call 1-866-567-1687

Current customers or vendors/suppliers,
please click here for additional contact options.