Frequently Asked Questions What kind of artwork do you prefer to work with? How long will it take to get my parts? Can I spread out my production quantities so they are released to me over a period of time? What is the best material to be used in a graphic overlay? What overlay thickness should I choose? How are the graphics printed? What colors are available? Can embossing improve the look and function of my overlay? How are silver flex circuits and copper flex circuits manufactured? Are there conductivity and resistivity differences between silver and copper flex? What are the cost differences between silver and copper flex? Can you solder components? What are the pitch constraints? What are the different methods of backlighting a membrane switch? What is the most highly recommended rear adhesive for your membrane switches? Are there other adhesives available for specialty or extremely price sensitive applications? What is the ideal application technique? What are my connection options for the membrane switch tail? What connectors does Pannam have available? Can you explain more about a ZIF (Zero Insertion Force) connection?
What kind of artwork do you prefer to work with?
In most situations we prefer files created in vector format from programs such as Adobe Illustrator and CorelDraw. Instead of working with files such as .jpg, .bmp, .tif, .gif, etc., we prefer to receive the files in the native program in which they were created, assuming we use that program. For more information, helpful tips, and a list of programs we work with, please see our Artwork Transfer Guidelines
. ▲ Back to top
How long will it take to get my parts?
This depends on a number of factors such as the complexity of the part, the thoroughness of the documentation we receive, the time taken to approve the Pannam artwork proofs, and our factory capacity at the time you place your order, among others. For a new design, our engineers will listen to your objectives and work together with you to determine the optimal switch construction to meet your functional and financial requirements. This initial design process and dialog is a critical step and can take some time. A general guideline for prototype/pilot runs is approximately 4-6 weeks after submittal of your PO and satisfactory documentation. For production quantities a general guideline would be 4 weeks after approval of the prototypes/pilot parts. As is always the case, under certain circumstances we may be able to accelerate those timelines. Pannam will always do everything possible to meet your unique schedule requirements. The more specific the information you provide to us in the early stages, the more we can accelerate your delivery timeline. ▲ Back to top
Can I spread out my production quantities so they are released to me over a period of time?
We make every effort to accommodate your scheduling needs to help you manage your inventory and increase your cash flow. While we evaluate each order on its own merits, in most situations we are happy to hold and release your parts for up to a year. ▲ Back to top
What is the best material to be used in a graphic overlay?
It all depends on the application. For membrane switch overlays we recommend polyester
because of its chemical resistance and its ability to be actuated in excess of 1,000,000 prior to any sign of failure. Our polyester material is treated with a first surface hard coating that allows the overlay to survive in even the harshest environment. ▲ Back to top
What overlay thickness should I choose?
For excellent tactile feedback “feel” in a switch with stainless steel dome construction, choose an overlay thickness between .006″ and .008″. This thickness range will be durable enough to hold up to numerous switch cycles. A thicker overlay will significantly decrease tactile feedback (give a heavier feel). ▲ Back to top
How are the graphics printed?
We print the graphics with traditional screen printing or with our state of the art digital UV inkjet digital presses
. If the application is for very high volume, the most cost effective way to print is screen printing. If the application requires low to mid volume with high end “eye-popping” four-color process graphics, we will print on the digital presses. All graphics are printed on the second surface to protect the image. ▲ Back to top
What colors are available?
We can print just about any color or graphic image that can be designed. ▲ Back to top
Can embossing improve the look and function of my overlay?
Depending on the design creativity, embossing can dramatically enhance the look of the overlay. It can add to the function of the switch as well. There are two basic ways to emboss. The first is the conventional method, metal to metal with male and female dies. This is fine for most applications, but does have height-of-emboss-area limitations that must be understood. The second method, hydro-forming, allows for a higher emboss but is more expensive. It is important to note that embossing is strictly a decorative process and will reduce the long term life of the keypad overlay. ▲ Back to top
How are silver flex circuits and copper flex circuits manufactured? Silver flex circuits
were developed as a lower-cost option to copper flex circuits
. Silver conductive ink is screen-printed onto a heat stabilized polyester film…therefore the term “additive process”. Copper flex circuits begin with a solid copper film laminated onto a polyester or polyimide (Kapton) film that is then chemically etched away to leave copper traces. Because of the chemicals involved, the manufacture of copper etched circuitry is not as environmentally friendly as screen-printing silver traces. ▲ Back to top
Are there conductivity and resistivity differences between the two?
A rule of thumb is a silver flex circuit can be used with applications of 1 watt or less and has higher resistance than a copper flex circuit. A copper flex circuit can handle higher amps and voltage than a silver flex circuit and has lower resistance. ▲ Back to top
What are the cost differences between silver and copper flex?
Due to the low cost of the polyester base material and applying silver only where it is required, the silver flex is considerably less expensive than Kapton copper flex. However a copper flex circuit may be more suitable for dense circuit arrays or in certain environmental conditions. ▲ Back to top
Can you solder components?
Components can be soldered onto copper flex circuits. Components cannot be soldered onto silver flex circuitry and are attached with conductive adhesive. ▲ Back to top
What are the pitch constraints?
Copper flex allows a minimum of 0.5mm pitch. Silver flex allows a minimum of 1.0mm pitch. ▲ Back to top
What are the different methods of backlighting a membrane switch?
Pannam has several different methods for backlighting your membrane switch each having its advantages and disadvantages: LED (Light Emitting Diodes)
are surface-mounted using silver conductive epoxy. LEDs are used for point source backlighting or indicator lights. LED backlighting, in most cases, is a lower cost alternative to other backlighting technologies. Electroluminescence (EL)
uses a printable ink (embedded with light emitting phosphors) to illuminate the membrane switch. Therefore it is a very thin layer and emits very little heat. It can be cut to any shape and easily layered within the membrane switch. Popular EL applications are the Timex Indigo Watch, automotive dash lighting, mobile phones and pagers. Fiber Optic
– Pannam uses sheets of Fiber Optic
Cloth cut into specific sizes and shapes to create a thin flexible lighting layer that goes between the overlay and dome switches. The optical fibers coming off one end of the panel are bundled into a circular ferrule and coupled to one or more LED light sources. Fiber optic backlighting attributes are long life, low power, compact size, low heat, high durability, low start-up costs and design flexibility. ▲ Back to top
What is the most highly recommended rear adhesive for your membrane switches?
In the majority of cases our membrane switches have 3M 467MP pressure sensitive adhesive as the rear adhesive layer
. If your membrane switch is adhering to a much rougher surface we recommend 3M 468MP. If your membrane switch must adhere to a low surface energy material such as powder coated paint, we recommend the 3M 300-series adhesives such as 3M9471LE, 3M9472LE, 3M8132LE, and 3M8153LE adhesives. ▲ Back to top
Are there other adhesives available for specialty or extremely price sensitive applications?
There are many different adhesives designed for specialty applications. Our experienced design engineers will recommend the best adhesive option for your application. ▲ Back to top
What is the ideal application technique?
Bond strength is dependent on the amount of adhesive-to-surface contact developed. Firm application pressure develops better adhesive contact and thus improves bond strength. To obtain optimum adhesion, the bonding surfaces must be clean and dry. If alignment is a problem, we recommend beginning in the top corner and stick down a small amount of adhesive then remove the rest of the liner and work your way down applying pressure. This adhesive will take approximately 72 hours to fully cure from the time of initial bond. The ultimate bond strength will increase with time and temperature. ▲ Back to top
What are my connection options for the membrane switch tail?
The tail can be connected to a circuit board with several different connectors designed for flex circuits or it can be designed for use with a ZIF (Zero Insertion Force) connector. The most common is a female housing
with a .100 (2.54mm) pitch. Other options include ZIF style, male housing and solder tabs. ▲ Back to top
What connectors does Pannam have available?
Nicomatic is the most common with a female housing with straight pins. Other options include Amp, Molex and FCI connectors with latching housings, detent housings and reversible housings. Tin and gold plated contacts are also available. ▲ Back to top
Can you explain more about a ZIF (Zero Insertion Force) connection?
A ZIF is specified when real estate is at a minimum. The membrane switch tail has exposed contacts on the end. The tail is then inserted into the ZIF connector. The customer can specify the specific connector or our experienced design engineers can help the customer chose the best interconnect for the application. The most commonly specified ZIF is a 1.00mm pitch. Other ZIF options are 2.54mm, 1.27mm and .50mm (copper etch). ▲ Back to top
Set your equipment apart from the competition. Contact Pannam now
regarding your membrane switch assembly project. Visit our Product Gallery
to learn more about the various constructions and product features we can offer, and learn how Pannam can customize your membrane switch assembly to meet and exceed your unique application requirements.