Engineers across industries choose metal dome switches due to their distinct tactile feel. You likely interact with metal dome switches in products around your environment on a daily basis. Metal domes are found in everyday consumer goods like your coffee maker, video game controller, and more sophisticated devices like aviation cockpit panels or surgical tools.
There are relatively few suppliers who manufacture metal dome switches. That’s because, despite their mechanical simplicity, it’s difficult to manufacture the proper geometry. Providing crisp tactile feedback is usually outside the bounds of the capability of a traditional metal stamper. Therefore, only a handful of manufacturers who specialize in metal dome switches, including Snaptron, Inovan, Nicomatic, and Best Technology.
Going Beyond Supplier, Why A Good Partner is a Must Have
Determining the right metal dome supplier can be a tricky process. To determine the best partner, you must weigh various factors, such as cost, lead time, quality, and technical support. Always choose a partner, not just a vendor. Does your partner provide engineering support? Do they adhere to strict regulatory quality standards? Can you talk directly to a person to troubleshoot issues? These are some of the things to consider when choosing the right supplier.
Metal Dome Switch Suppliers
Snaptron is a US-based manufacturer and metal dome switch supplier. Snaptron has a 42,000 sq foot facility located in Windsor, Colorado. Founded in 1990, the company manufactures all its products on-site, including its automation and test equipment—touting 100% made in the USA. They ship direct to customers and do not work with distributors. Snaptron is also ISO 9001:2015 certified and compliant with RoHs, REACH, and Conflict-Free
Snaptron carries numerous standard domes styles such as four-legged, triangle, round, oval, oblong, and square. They offer domes in sizes ranging from 4mm up to 37mm and forces from 40 to 2250g. With well over 240 standard part numbers, Snaptron has the widest selection of tactile domes available on the market. Snaptron also adheres to strict life standards, with most domes lasting up to five million cycles and upwards of 10 million cycles. In addition, Snaptron can manufacture custom domes in just four to six weeks, the fastest lead time in the industry. According to Snaptron’s design guide, they offer custom features such as dimples, multi-action, backlighting, over-travel, and more.
Snaptron’s Peel-N-Place arrays are metal domes laid out on polyester-backed adhesive tape to adhere to the circuit board. They offer standard and custom configurations of dome arrays with cut-outs to accommodate other components on the circuit board. Most of the domes in Snaptron’s portfolio can be placed onto an array. In addition, various adhesives are available upon request.
In addition to their dome arrays, Snapton offers domes packaged in bulk, cartridges, and on reels. While Snaptron does not offer domes in a strip, they offer automation equipment such as the SureShot Robot that makes it easier to automate the placement of domes to the circuit board–placing up to 10,000 domes per hour.
Best Technology manufactures metal domes, dome arrays, and poly domes and offers die-cutting services. They are based in Shenzhen, China. Best Technology started in 1999 and specializes in manufacturing domes for consumer electronics. They offer four-leg, round, triangle, square, and oblong-shaped domes in diameters ranging from 4mm to 20mm and various forces. These domes are rated to one million cycles. In addition, they also manufacture poly domes switches made from conductive ink on polyester.
Best Technology also manufactures a surface mountable dome switch that is soldered directly to the circuit board through a reflow soldering method. These domes are sealed with an actuator and can be soldered directly on the circuit like any other SMD component. Their SMD domes can last up to 100,000 cycles and come packaged in tape and reel.
Best Technology offers a few different packaging methods, including domes in bulk, plastic tubes, tape and reel, and dome arrays. In addition, they provide dome arrays in single or double layers. Best Technology can also manufacture EMI dome arrays, rubber glue arrays, and light guide film arrays. They also offer custom arrays in configurations specified by the end customer.
Inovan, founded in 1952, is a high-precision stamping manufacturer. In addition to being a metal dome switch supplier, they specialize in surface plating, forming/bending stamped parts, hybrid plastic/metal parts, connectors, wire parts, fasteners, and other metal stamped products. They have locations in Germany and subsidiaries in China and Mexico. They have numerous certifications, including ISO 9001:2015, ISO 14001:2015, ISO 50001:2015, and IATF 16949:2016.
Despite its numerous manufacturing capabilities, Inovan has a relatively small portfolio of tactile domes. They mainly offer four-leg domes with dimples and backlighting. Most of these domes last up to one million cycles.
Inovan is also the first known manufacturer of an SMD dome. Currently, this dome comes in five standard part numbers. They also offer a dome with an open-close function. Inovan packages its parts in a strip on plastic reels or in bulk in Pe bags.
Nicomatic manufactures electrical connectors, FFC cables, and tactile metal domes. In 1996, they entered the dome switch market. Nicomatic is based in France with 12 subsidiaries across the US, China, India, England, Germany, and Turkey. They are EN 9100 certified and RoHS and REACH compliant.
Nicomatic offers a relatively small offering of four leg and round domes, in addition to placement machines and testing equipment. The four-leg domes they manufacture are called “non-stick” domes. These patented domes minimize nesting, so the domes do not stick together. Non-stick domes are easier to place on the PCB and can last up to 5 million cycles. These domes can also be placed in plastic tubes for use with dome placement machines.
Nicomatic also manufactures dome arrays in custom configurations with their four-leg and round metal domes. Like the other manufacturers, they can also package domes in bulk, tubes, or tape and reel.
Selecting the Best Metal Dome Switch Supplier
Choosing the wrong vendor can cost your business time and money. But, if you spend time researching and asking the right questions, you will significantly improve your chances of having a positive vendor experience and a superior metal dome switch.
Document your needs, evaluate costs, speak with the team, check references, look for recommendations, and determine if the suppliers’ capabilities match your dome switch needs. Selecting the right metal dome switch supplier can be complex, but finding the right fit for your project will pay off in the long run.