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Switches encourage elegance by design

21 September 2015

Over the past 25 years the role of the push button in industry has been under threat and the market has changed significantly. Embracing this change, IDEC’s pursuit in providing the optimum Human Machine Interface was set

With the development of technology such as the HMI, which in the same time line has moved from a basic text display to the flexible graphical touch screen we know today, we have seen a change in the interface between the human and the machine.

For IDEC, a world leader in the Human Machine Interface, whose foundation is with the push button & its associates (selector switches and pilot lights), this change brings its own challenges. Recognising this trend and embracing change IDEC’s pursuit in providing the optimum Human Machine Interface was set. First came the technology based solutions which, after several hardware generations, has positioned IDEC as a major provider of technically "best in class” touch screen solutions with a range of touch screen from 3.7” to 12.1”. But this is only part of the story…

Today the basic electromechanical switch still has a place in industry; The Touch Screen has not won the war on all fronts. Of course they are not only used in industry but also non-industrial applications such as parking system, train cabs, rolling stock & automotive have applications where there is a need to push a button or a pilot light for indication.

Then consider the requirements of the machine designer & control system builder – where possible the touch screen is used because of the flexibility to define the screen (creating the right user interface), the ease of connectivity (less wiring than many push buttons) and the improved aesthetics that the operator interface can bring to the operator control panel.

This pursuit of improved panel design and better aesthetics is where IDEC now see the beginning of a new trend. This new trend is the use of "elegant switches” as a replacement for the traditional lumpy "industrial looking” switch. What can make the insignificant switch elegant? Stephen Schiller, Managing Director of IDEC’s European business, explains their direction…

"As we have already mentioned IDEC are seeing a growing desire of the machine maker to have elegance on their machine control and user interface. So to encourage this trend we have introduced not one but three series of switches that have one key feature in common – they are all flush mounting, with a front panel mounting of only 2mm. The design of each switch promotes the sleek & elegant finish also giving many other advantages such as improving hygiene by reducing the surface area preventing dust and other particles, like food, accumulating around the operator"

Why the need for 3 series?

It’s all about the application, Steve delves deeper…

We are able to meet so many demands from the user as we now offer 16mm, 22mm & 25mm diameter switches.

16mm (LB flush) – here we see applications in semi-conductor machines, communication equipment, medical equipment and also non-industrial applications including audio visual, parking machines and train cab & rolling stock.

22mm (CW) – The 22mm switch is by far the most commonly used size in industry and IDEC CW series therefore allows for easy adoption by the panel builder or machine manufacturer, with no need to change the panel design & switch layout. Also the detachable contact block gives a typical 10Amp contact rating which is again a standard for this type of use. So we see this series finding its way to the manufacturers or high end packaging & printing machines, food & beverage applications and the more discerning control panel builder where they want to have the more attractive user interface.

25mm (LW flush) – This series offers some interesting solutions due to the various wire termination options the contact blocks offer - PCB pin mount, Solder tab / fast-on termination and the traditional screw termination. Due to these options and the apparent oversize operator this series is finding its way to heavier duty applications such as machine tools, air drying and industrial vacuum systems. This is, in part, due to the option to have termination without screws which is more secure where high levels of vibration can affect the control panel.

Each of the 3 product families provide a complete line including push button (maintain and momentary), illuminated push buttons (again momentary and maintained), selector switches, key switches and pilot lights. All have a minimum IP rating of IP65 (IP66/67 for CW) making them suitable for wash down areas. The choice of a metallic (silver bezel) or a black plastic gives the user a large choice to find the right solution for their system.

Product Features (in brief)

Flush Mounting on Front Panel:

  • LB & LW - 2mm
  • CW – 2.5mm

Rear Panel Depth:

  • LB – 27.9mm
  • CW – 39.9mm
  • LW – 41.5mm+

Contact Rating:

  • LB - 5A Silver / 3A Gold-clad
  • CW - 10A
  • LW - 5A Silver / 3A Gold-clad

Termination Method:

  • LB – PCB or Solder/Tab terminal
  • CW – screw
  • LW – PCB, Solder/Tab terminal, screw

Operator shape:

  • LB – Round, Square & Rectangular
  • CW – Round
  • LW – Round & Square

IP Rating:

  • LB – IP65
  • CW – IP66/67 selector & push button (when using rubber boot option) / IP65 key switch 
  • LW – IP65