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Versatility of ultra-miniature detect switches on display.

Ultra-miniature detect switches are playing a significant role in a number of applications today. The miniaturization of key components, including switches, has enabled the continued trend toward end-products getting smaller and smaller. Previously, where an application relied on the availability of miniature pushbutton technology, the same application can now be better served by smaller, more flexible detect switch designs.

Micro-miniature detect switches are being employed in various applications calling for detection, such as consumer electronics, gaming, handheld devices, medical equipment, PoS terminals, telecom networking, industrial instrumentation and controls, computer peripherals, and military/ aerospace designs. With variations from surface mount and through-hole, to snap-in and snap-acting, lever actuation and over-travel detect switches are being customized to meet any criteria, making them suitable for (and present in) an extensive number of markets.

Detect switches can also be used as slide switches. Traditional slide switches typically offer an operating life between 10K and 30K cycles, while detect switches provide an operating life cycle of up to 100K. As a result, products that require long and reliable switching are migrating toward detect switches with a mechanical slider, spring, and a physical stop to prevent over-actuation. These versatile detect switches simulate a slide switch but greatly increase the operating life. Handheld tablets, e-readers, and many other consumer products have already adopted detects as slide switches for on/off and wake-up functionality.

The flexibility of detect switches is paramount to meeting the many requirements of an application. One such example is the angles with which a switch is capable of operating and subsequently detecting. In a point-of-sale (POS) terminal, a card comes in and requires a detect switch to identify its presence on the same plane. However, in ATCA networking applications, an ultra-miniature right-angle detect switch is employed to detect whether the server blade handles are opened or not. Detects are able to dwell in a closed position for prolonged periods of time and respond reliably where a standard momentary switch may not be able to provide these capabilities.

Miniaturization and reliability are two of the more important considerations in the medical design market today. Take for example behind-the-ear hearing aids. Switch miniaturization is required in order to reduce the overall size of the hearing aid, thereby increasing user comfort and reducing the visibility of the device behind the ear. Portable blood pressure cuffs also benefit from switch miniaturization through a reduction in the overall weight and assembly of the cuff.

Glucose meters, for example, require an extremely high level of reliability in order to accurately read the blood sugar level of a customer. Detect switches in glucose meters initiate the process of analyzing the blood, thereby affecting the accuracy of the reading. With extended life cycles and oftentimes sealing to IP67 specifications, detect switches meet both the reliability and ultra-miniaturization standards necessary.

The size and versatility of detect switches extends beyond high reliability applications into the high actuation consumer market as well. Gaming devices employ such switches to detect the presence of the game card. Handheld devices, including mobile phones, which are getting smaller and more complex with each design, utilize ultra-miniature detect switches for display activation.

The appeal of employing detect switches as opposed to alternative switch technologies like pushbuttons and slide switches, is that they are smaller and more flexible by design. Because many custom detect switches involve custom-tooled contacts, these devices can be tailored to meet any application in an extensive number of markets. Where previously these applications relied on one type of switch technology, like snap-acting switches, they are now better served by ultra-miniature detect switches with the versatility necessary to meet application specific requirements.

By Kyle Peterson, Product Management, C&K Components
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Author:Peterson, Kyle
Publication:ECN-Electronic Component News
Date:Nov 1, 2013
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