Best Practices for Waterproofing Control Panels: Choosing the Correct Gasket

Posted by Courtney Houtz on March 11, 2024
Courtney Houtz
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Control panels for medical devices and industrial settings need to withstand water and harsh chemicals. Membrane switches, which are ideal for control panels, can be made water-resistant by adding gaskets or perimeter seals.  

Control Panels Designed for Protection 

With proper design, you can safeguard your control panel or device against failure. When choosing the correct gasket or designing the proper perimeter seal for your device, you will want to consider the material, placement, and thickness. 

Gaskets for membrane switchesGasket Materials 

Selecting the right gasket material is crucial for achieving water resistance in membrane switches. Silicone rubber is a popular choice due to its excellent sealing properties and resistance to moisture and environmental factors. When selecting a gasket, consider factors such as temperature resistance, compression set, and compatibility with other materials in the switch. 

Gasket Placement 

Proper placement of the gasket is essential for creating a reliable seal. The gasket should be positioned between the overlay and circuit layers of the membrane switch, ensuring that it covers the entire perimeter of the switch. This creates a barrier that prevents water from penetrating the switch and damaging the electronics. 

Gasket Thickness 

The thickness of the gasket is also important for achieving a waterproof seal. A gasket that is too thin may not provide adequate sealing, while a gasket that is too thick may cause issues with the switch's tactile response. To ensure a proper seal, it's recommended to use a gasket that is the same thickness as the combined layers of the membrane switch. 

Achieving IP67 Rating 

When designing your control panel, you may want to consider following certain standards, such as IP67. To achieve an IP67 rating, which indicates complete protection against dust and immersion in water up to 1 meter deep for 30 minutes, a minimum of .125” of 3M 200MP adhesive is required around the circuit. This adhesive creates a secure seal that prevents water from entering the switch and damaging the electronics. 

Other Control Panel Design Considerations 

In addition to adding gaskets, there are several design practices that can enhance the durability of membrane switches. These include: 

Circuit Layer Material: Using a heat-treated polyester material for the circuit layer can improve water resistance. 

Overlay Material: Choose an overlay material that is resistant to water and environmental factors. 

Adhesive Selection: Use a high-quality adhesive, such as 3M 200MP, to ensure that the gasket adheres securely to the switch. 

Safeguard Against Failure with Gaskets

Although gaskets may add additional costs to your membrane switch design, failure is not an option. By choosing the right design and features, you can save money in the long run by not having to replace the switch as often. 

If you’re unsure where to start with your design but know you want a durable and reliable product, our team of experts can help you determine the best gasket for your device.

Topics: Membrane Switches & Keypads, User Interface, Manufacturing & Design

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