The connector system used on a membrane switch or a sensor assembly is the most critical portion of the machine interface; it attaches the sensor to the circuit board. Without the connection system working correctly the nicest looking switch or most elaborate sensor is useless. The most tried and true connection system is a female type receptacle with a plastic housing, typically on .100” centers. This system is simple but extremely reliable. The housings can also be equipped with a latching/locking mechanism which can serve as a polarization feature, but more importantly, can provide a connection that will not slip or vibrate loose during extreme conditions.

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This shows the tried and true .100” center female receptacle system that uses a plastic housing. The picture shows the housing off the part, exposing the receptacles. One thing that I should have mentioned is that the receptacle can come with a tin plating or a gold plating.

 

With everything evolving into smaller and smaller packages, the 1mm center ZIF (zero insertion force) style connection system is becoming more and more popular. From the membrane sensor world, the product is not shipped from the factory with a connector assembled to the part. Instead, the tail design must be set up properly to slide into a connector on the users equipment where it can be secured in place by a locking mechanism on the PCB (printed circuit board) of the end users device. Tails are constructed with conductive silver tracks that are then over-printed with carbon. The carbon provides a good protective cover over the silver and also battles the phenomenon of silver migration.

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Here is a picture of a 1mm (millimeter) pitch tail. The center to center measurement between conductive tracks is 1 millimeter.

 

.5mm ZIF style connectors are also being introduced especially for touch sensors. These are extremely challenging for the screen printing of conductive tracks and the cutting of the tail geometry. Challenges that Xymox can overcome!

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