The Complete Guide to the Membrane Keyboard and How to Make it Quieter – A membrane keyboard uses rubber or silicone domes instead of individual switches for each key. This guide will focus on reducing noise from a membrane keyboard while also keeping it functional.
We will also discuss how a membrane keyboard works, its mechanism, types of membrane keyboards, and how each option compares to a standard keyboard.
Why Do Membrane Keyboards Make Noise?
Membrane keyboards are a technology that has been around for over 30 years. They have been the standard keyboard for laptops and desktops, and they are also found in most office buildings.
The membrane keyboard comprises two layers of flexible plastic with a rubberized coating on top. The bottom layer is made up of small domes that, when pressed, compress air through the holes in the top layer. This creates an electrical signal which is then translated into a letter on your screen.
The issue with membrane keyboards is that the domes need to be compressed by some force to create an electrical signal, making them very noisy when typing.
The keyboard’s membrane is comprised of three layers. Two of these are membranes that contain conductor tracks. The middle layer is a “spacer” having holes wherever a “key” exists. It also keeps the other two layers apart.
In normal conditions, when switches (key) are in a state of open since the current cannot traverse the gap that is non-conductive between the traces of the layer below. When you press the top layer forced down (with fingers), it comes into contact with the lower layer. The conductive lines on the bottom of this layer create a bridge and allow the flow of electricity. The switch has now been “closed,” and the device’s parent device detects the keypress.
To further reduce wear, it is possible to use a simple, easily removable protective sheet that can be placed in front of the membrane. Membrane keyboards are extensively utilized in industrial, consumer electronics, commercial, scientific, and military devices.
Uses Of Membrane Keyboard?
Membrane keyboards are a type of computer keyboard with a flat, thin membrane, usually made of silicone rubber or polyurethane. The keys are laid out on the surface of the membrane and are actuated by pushing down on them.
Membrane keyboards have been used for industrial control systems, medical equipment, telephone systems, computers, and electrical appliances since the 1960s.
There Are Two Kinds Of Membrane Keyboards
1. Flat-Panel Membrane Keyboards
Keyboards with flat panels are frequently found in appliances such as photocopy machines and microwave ovens. The typical design is made up of three different layers. The top layer contains labels on its front, and the conductivity stripes are printed on the back. Below it is an extra layer that keeps the front, and back layers separated so that they don’t have electrical contact. The back layer contains conductive stripes perpendicular to the ones from the front layer. When stacked together, they form the grid. When a user presses down at a specific place, their finger presses the front layer across the spacer layer, closing an entire circuit at the grid’s intersections. This informs computer processor control that a specific button has been hit.
Generally speaking, flat-panel keyboards don’t provide visual, physical feedback. Thus, the devices emit a sound or lights when a key is pressed. They are commonly utilized in harsh environments where leak-proofing or waterproofing is desired. While they were used initially on personal computers (on Atari 400 and Sinclair ZX80, ZX81), they were replaced by more tactile domes and mechanical switches keyboards.
2. Full-Travel Membrane Keyboards.
Full-travel membrane-based keyboards are among the most popular computer keyboards of today. They are made of one piece of plastic, with keytops and switch plungers that press down on a membrane to activate a contact within the electrical matrix.
Comparison Of Mechanical And Membrane Keyboards
Mechanical keyboards use switches that are actuated by a key pressing down. Membrane keyboards use a rubber dome to actuate the switch.
Gamers and typists favor mechanical keyboards because they offer better tactile feedback and durability. Membrane keyboards are preferred for low profile, lightweight, and low cost. A mechanical keyboard uses switches that are actuated by a key pressing down. Membrane keyboards use rubber domes which are actuated when the key is pressed down, requiring less power and making them more reliable than mechanical keyboards.
What Makes a Keyboard So Loud?
The noise of the keyboard is caused by the mechanical switches used to register keystrokes. Most keyboards use a membrane switch design because it’s quieter.
Membrane keyboards are quieter than other keyboards because they don’t use moving parts to register keystrokes. Instead, they use a rubber dome that collapses when you press on it and then springs back up when you let go.
Common Issues With Membrane Keyboards And How To Fix Them
The membrane keyboard is the most common type of keyboard in use today, and it is cheaper and lighter than other keyboards. Membrane keyboards are built with a thin, flexible plastic membrane covering the top of the keys and making contact with a rubber dome beneath when you press down on them. Membrane keyboards are not as durable as other keyboards, which can lead to some common problems.
The plastic can become loose or even tear over time, which will cause keys to stick or not work at all. If your keyboard makes noise when you type, it may be due to dirt buildup between the keys or under the keys themselves. If you spill something on your keyboard, it may create a sticky residue that will attract dust and dirt over time, which can cause your keyboard to make noise.
Membrane keyboards also tend to be more susceptible to liquid damage than other keyboards, so it is important to take precautions if you are making a meal or drinking near your keyboard.
How To Make A Membrane Keyboard Quieter?
- Keep your keyboard clean to avoid any dust particles between the conductive strips.
- Keep a pad under the keyboard to make your keyboard quieter.
The noise created by different keys is different, and some keys are louder than others. If you keep something at the keyboard’s base, some noise can be eliminated.
Make sure that the pad that you are using is big enough. An XL or XXL-sized pad will be perfect to use as a base. You can compare the sound before and after the user of a mouse pad and see a difference.
- Invest in a high-quality membrane keyboard
High-quality membrane keyboards are usually designed to make less noise while typing. Installing high-quality keyboards could be expensive, but it will be helpful in the long run as the keyboard is something you use every day.
With these keyboards, there would be no noise, and one might not need to look for how to make membrane keyboard quieter.
Tips To Keep Your Keyboard Clean and Help Prevent Common Issues
- Use a vacuum cleaner to suck up the dust.
- Wipe down your keyboard with a damp cloth or cotton swab dipped in isopropyl alcohol.
- Keep your workspace clean and free of dust.
- Avoid drinking near your keyboard.
- Apply a cover to your keyboard when not in use.
Several Advantages And Disadvantages Of Using A Membrane Keyboard:
- Membrane keyboards have a simple design; the keyboard is thin, flexible, and portable to mechanical keyboards.
- The keywords are resistant to dust particles, liquid, etc. So there is no fear of the keyboard getting damaged easily.
- They are comparatively cheaper than other keyboards as the material used is inexpensive.
- Also, they make lesser noise than regular keyboards, even when you type at a higher speed.
- They look more designed. You have an option to make your customized keyboard, so you can add backlighting to make it look fancier. You can use either EL or LED lights.
A membrane keyboard has more advantages than disadvantages. One of the disadvantages is noise from the keys. But we have discussed various ways to answer “how to make membrane keyboard quieter” Some other disadvantages are listed below.
- Sometimes, the keys get damaged quite fast after constant use. The keys get stuck or become hard to press after a few years of service.
- If the keyboard gets damaged, the repairing expense could be pretty high.
- Suppose you are looking for a specific part of a membrane keyboard, and it may not be available in the store.
- Membrane keyboards are not suggested for people who use keyboards for gaming regularly.
- If you use something to put inside the keyboard keys, you will have to change it from time to time, such as springs, etc.
Keyboard Technologies (membrane, scissor-switch, dome switch)
This section talks about the different keyboard technologies. Membrane keyboards are the most common type of keyboards. They are cheap and easy to produce, but they have a short lifespan and require more force to push down the keys. Scissor-switch keyboards are more expensive than membrane keyboards, but they can last longer. Dome switches are a new type of keyboard that is less noisy than other keyboards and requires less force to type on them.
The best keyboard technology depends on what you want from your keyboard – durability or noise-canceling capabilities? Leave your comment below.
Various Keyboards Available in the Market
Now that we have discussed how to make a membrane keyboard quieter, if none of these solutions reduce noise from your membrane keyboard, you have the following different keyboards to replace with membrane keyboards.
1. Dome-Switch Keyboards
These keyboards are considered a combination of flat-panel and mechanical switch keyboards. There are mainly two switches in these keyboards, metal or polyurethane domes. These keyboards are also called direct switch keyboards.
Metal some switches are made up of pieces of stainless steel. These types of controls are widely used in today’s world, and they can be platted in the form of silver, goal, or nickel.
Polydome switches are made up of graphite. They are comparatively cheaper, but they don’t work as well as metal switches.
These keyboards contain switches that can be pulled out and replaced. They are used mainly by people who like custom-built keyboards.
You can use any switch you like, as long as it’s in MX style. These keyboards are used by people who want to build their custom keyboards.
3. Buckling Spring Keyboards
Typists mainly prefer buckling keyboards.
This keyboard contains a small hammer telling the membrane to switch on being clicked.
4. Hall Effect Keyboard
They contain switches that are made up of magnets and hall effect sensors.
They are used in the nuclear weapons aircraft cockpit. This is because they are highly dust resistant. However, as magnets and sensors are used to make these keyboards, they are pretty expensive.
5. Laser Protection Keyboard
They are the size of a computer mouse project. They can be used on cell phones and PDAs. Unfortunately, they are even less user-friendly than the lowest quality keyboards.
All other keys stop working if one laser gets affected; they are not user-friendly.
6. Rollup Keyboard
They are made up of flexible silicone materials. They are water-resistant, although they may attract dust, dirt, etc.
These keyboards are made of silicone or polyurethane materials and can be easily rolled and folded, although they may get damaged if you fold them tightly. They are not very dust resistant.
7. Mechanical Switch Keyboards
Mechanical keyboards consist of a housing, a spring and a stem, and other parts, such as a click bar and a tactile leaf. These keyboards have a longer lifespan than membranes once. The most well-known producer of its switches is a company called Cherry, which has been manufacturing its switches since the 1980s.
A variety of switches cannot be used on the mechanical keyboard, but you can use switches of different sizes instead.
8. Membrane Keyboards
Membrane keyboards have two types: a flat panel and the other is full travel. Flat-panel keyboards are used in ovens and photocopiers.
Flat-based membrane keyboards do not produce physical feedback on clicking. Therefore, a beep or flash sound indicates that the sensor has clicked a button. That’s why some people want to know how to make membrane keyboards quieter.
Flat-panel membrane keyboards are the most commonly used keyboards in today’s world. They have a switch plunger that presses down on the membranes.
9. Scissor-Switch Keyboard
It is called a scissor-switch keyboard because it contains keys attached to the keyboard through two plastic pieces fitted in the shape of a scissor.
As a result, its keys are comparatively quieter and require more force to press. These types of keyboards are found in laptops.
Are Membrane Keyboards Quieter Than Normal Keyboards?
Membrane keyboards have a rubbery feel as the keys have rubber underneath them. Membrane keys are designed so that they should be able to make comparatively lesser noise.
Membrane keyboard keys are already quit, but if you want to make them quieter, you should put foam or other stuff to eliminate noise.
For what Purpose Are Membrane Keyboards More Useful?
Membrane keyboards are most useful in appliances and machineries. Also, the prices of membrane keyboards are pretty low. Membrane keyboards are produced in heavy amounts, and mostly all parts are available in the market.
How To Take Good Care Of A Membrane Keyboard?
The first step to taking good care of the keyboard is keeping it clean. Cleaning can be done by removing each key and cleaning it thoroughly or blowing compressed air on it without removing the keys. Make sure to clean the keyboard with a microfiber cloth from time to time.
If dust particles get inside the keyboard and stay there for a while, the springs and switches will erode. So it is better to have a keyboard clean.
What Is An Internal Keyboard, And Why Does It Make Noises?
Internal keyboards are the ones that are built into a laptop or computer. They can make noises when they are typing. One of the main reasons they make noise is because the keys are hitting against each other and making a sound.
This happens because they have springs inside that help them close up after you type on them. Some people prefer to have a noiseless keyboard so their typing will be quieter and not disturb others in the room.
Wrap up on how to make a membrane keyboard quieter
We have given a few tips on making a membrane keyboard quieter. But why is it essential to know how to make a membrane keyboard quieter?
The hardest thing to deal with while using a computer or a laptop could be? Unnecessary noise is created by typing on a keyboard; any keyboard you use creates sound. It is frustrating for some people to use a keyboard that constantly makes noises while typing. Also, you will not be able to use such a keyboard in a quiet area such as a library. Any work you do on a computer needs concentration, but the constant noise of typing may affect your concentration level.