How to Make a Simple Membrane Switch: A Step-by-Step Guide

How to Make a Simple Membrane Switch


Membrane switches are versatile and widely used in various electronic devices, providing a user-friendly interface for input and control. These switches are thin, flexible, and durable, making them ideal for applications where space is limited or environmental conditions are challenging. In this blog post, we will guide you through the process of making a simple membrane switch. By following these steps, you can create a customized switch for your DIY projects or prototyping needs.

Before we delve into the steps, let’s briefly understand the basic concept of a membrane switch. A membrane switch consists of multiple layers, including a flexible membrane, conductive traces, and a graphic overlay. When pressure is applied to the switch, the top layer flexes, creating contact between the conductive traces and completing an electrical circuit. This interaction triggers the desired action, such as turning on a device or registering a keystroke.

Without further ado, let’s dive into the step-by-step guide on making a simple membrane switch.

Materials and Tools

Before starting the construction of a membrane switch, gather the necessary materials and tools. Here’s a list of what you’ll need:


  • Polyester film or flexible plastic sheet
  • Conductive ink or copper foil
  • Adhesive or double-sided tape
  • Graphic overlay (with labels or icons)
  • Insulating spacer materials (such as adhesive-backed foam)


  • Computer-aided design (CAD) software (optional)
  • Printer
  • Scissors or craft knife
  • Soldering iron (if using copper foil)
  • Multimeter (for testing conductivity)
  • Heat source (e.g., heat gun or hairdryer)
  • Tweezers
  • Clean cloth or alcohol wipes

Ensure you have all the materials and tools readily available before proceeding to the next steps. Once everything is in place, you’re ready to start creating your membrane switch.

Design and Layout

The first step in making a membrane switch is designing the layout. Determine the number and placement of buttons or keys you want on your switch. You can use computer-aided design (CAD) software or simply sketch your design on paper.

Consider the size of the membrane switch, the spacing between buttons, and the overall aesthetics. Ensure that your design aligns with the functionality and purpose of the switch. Once you’re satisfied with the layout, transfer it to a digital format if required.

Print the Graphic Overlay

Next, print the graphic overlay that will serve as the top layer of your membrane switch. This layer provides the visual interface and often includes labels or icons for each button or key. Use a printer capable of high-resolution prints to ensure clarity and durability.

For best results, print the graphic overlay on a durable material such as polyester film. This will enhance the longevity of your membrane switch and withstand repeated use.

Create Conductive Traces

There are two common methods for creating conductive traces on a membrane switch: using a conductive ink or copper foil. We will outline both techniques to give you the flexibility to choose the one that suits your resources and preferences.

4.1 Conductive Ink Method: If you’re using conductive ink, follow these steps:

a) Prepare the base layer: Cut a piece of polyester film or flexible plastic sheet to match the size of your graphic overlay.

b) Apply the conductive ink: Use a fine-tipped brush or pen to apply the conductive ink onto the polyester film, following the layout you designed. Ensure the traces do not touch or overlap unless intended for connectivity.

c) Allow the ink to dry: Give the conductive ink sufficient time to dry completely, following the manufacturer’s instructions.

4.2 Copper Foil Method: If you prefer using copper foil, here’s how to proceed:

a) Prepare the base layer: Cut a piece of polyester film or flexible plastic sheet to match the size of your graphic overlay.

b) Apply adhesive: Apply a thin layer of adhesive or double-sided tape onto the polyester film.

c) Attach the copper foil: Cut strips of copper foil according to your layout. Carefully place the copper foil on the adhesive, aligning it with the intended traces.

d) Secure the foil: Press down on the copper foil firmly to ensure proper adhesion to the polyester film.

e) Solder connections (optional): If your design requires connections between copper traces, use a soldering iron to create a solid bond.

Assemble the Layers

With the conductive traces in place, it’s time to assemble the layers of the membrane switch. Follow these steps:

a) Attach the graphic overlay: Carefully align the graphic overlay on top of the conductive traces. Ensure that the buttons or keys on the graphic overlay correspond with the conductive traces.

b) Attach the insulating spacer: Cut the insulating spacer materials, such as adhesive-backed foam, into the desired shape and size. Place the spacer on top of the conductive traces, allowing sufficient space for flexing.

c) Secure the layers: Press down on the layers to ensure they are firmly adhered together. Use a clean cloth or alcohol wipes to remove any dirt or fingerprints.

Test and Refine

Once you’ve assembled the layers, it’s essential to test the functionality of your membrane switch. Use a multimeter to check the continuity of the conductive traces. Apply pressure to each button or key to ensure they trigger the desired action reliably.

If any button or key fails to function correctly, inspect the conductive traces for damage or misalignment. Make necessary adjustments or corrections as needed. Testing and refining your membrane switch will help ensure its proper functionality.


Congratulations! You’ve successfully created a simple membrane switch. By following this step-by-step guide, you’ve learned how to design the layout, print the graphic overlay, create conductive traces using either conductive ink or copper foil, and assemble the layers of the switch.

Remember, this guide provides a foundation for creating a basic membrane switch. As you gain more experience, you can explore advanced techniques, such as integrating tactile feedback or backlighting.

Membrane switches offer endless possibilities for customization and application. Whether you’re working on a DIY project or prototyping a new product, understanding the fundamentals of membrane switch construction empowers you to innovate and create exciting user interfaces.

So, go ahead and unleash your creativity by incorporating membrane switches into your projects. Enjoy the journey of making and experimenting, and let your ideas come to life through these simple yet versatile switches!