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    Tactile Switches & Accessories

    Tactile switches are on/off actuator components - basic electronic switches - that must be physically touched or pressed down to close a circuit and deliver a signal. Tactile switches typically only register an input while manually pressed by the user, and return to a default ‘off’ position on release.

    Often shortened to tact switches, these simple and common switch types are often used as components in PCB-based (printed circuit board) systems. Everyday examples include computer keyboards, keypads or number pads, instrument panels, and many other interface control applications.

    What are the main differences between tactile switches?

    • Terminal type - tactile switches are available in many different configurations for mounting to PCBs and other device circuits.
      • Among the most common terminal types are surface mount (the switch is soldered directly to the surface of the PCB) and through-hole mount (the switch features leg pins that pass through the PCB before being soldered or crimped)
      • Other options include screw-in, tabbed, or gull wing tact switches
    • Switch operation - most tactile switches are typically either latched, momentary or off(on) type.
    • Actuator type - the physical characteristics of the switch interface itself, and how it's operated by the user.
      • Common options include standard button tactile switches, cap switches, plunger switches, push plate switches, and stem tactile switches
    • Actuator length and travel distance - actuator length refers to the physical height of the button part itself, while travel distance denotes the depth of the press required before the tactile switch registers as active/on.
    • Operating force - the amount of physical weight you'll need to apply in order to move the switch.
    • IP rating - the level of ingress protection a tactile switch offers the underlying PCB against dirt, moisture and other particles.
    • Mechanical life - usually measured in number of cycles (presses and returns), this indicates the rated durability of a tactile switch under simulated long-term use.
    • Tactile switch caps are an easy way to accessorise tact switches in order to colour code or differentiate different switches in an array.

    Guides & Articles

    Touch Switches Guide

    Touch Switches Guide

    In this guide, we look closely at the various types of touch switches available, as well as giving a brief overview of how different touch switches work.
    Read more
    DIP Switches Guide

    DIP Switches Guide

    Our complete guide explains what DIP switches are and how they work, before exploring the different types available.
    Read more