buttons and toggle switches - low volume

I am looking for an elegant button and toggle switch to use on a working prototype of a medical product. One button will be a interaction button and one will be an on /off toggle. To date, I have only been able to locate components like these:
e switch 500.jpg
but would like to have some thing that would add to the design not detract for example:

The volumes will be low (less than 30 units). I assume with this volume we will need to use something of the shelf. I was interested to know if anyone has any experience with a vendor who can provide simple, aesthetically pleasing buttons and switches, or any other creative ways to solve this problem.


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One thing you want to make sure you know about apple products is that they manufacture many of their own parts… a run of the mill ethernet/USB/PWR/(insert any type here) plug is just not high enough quality for them. I have an ME friend who was stuck doing plugs for a while - an exercise of how to make a plug as nice as physically possible

So it might be hard to get that off the shelf.

as far as the glucose meter, that’s just a plastic button cover that’s been engineered to be over an off the shelf switch (probably board mounted). You should be able to prototype that pretty easily.

I would recomend some kind of PCB mounted switch, so you can screw it into an internal screw boss for a solid assembly. Depending on your resources, an EE they could lay something out and have it fab-ed pretty inexpensively nowadays, and sometimes available online. An ME could make the button and outside cover parts work within your design.

Maybe with an off-the-shelf rubber dome that would give a good feel between the button cover and the switch too?. Your choice of switch might have a little to do with how you’re doing the button, do you have any pictures?

Those PCB mount 2 - 3 position slide switches are extremely common, myriad sizes, pin outs, inexpensive and available next day in any quantity from any electronics supplier like Digikey.

Used as is with the paddle sticking out (cheap, annoying) or with custom cosmetic button overlay, like the Apple example is probably your best route with such low volumes. You the designer can then style your own cosmetic overlay button and rapid prototype it.

Disassemble any cheap electronica and learn how these switches are used. Often the cosmetic overlay button is trapped between housing halves in molded slide - guides.

For ultra high volume another method is a captive spring contact in a switch paddle that slides over PCB contacts. These are usually custom due to ultra high volume, and also cheap in all senses of the word, but common.

The blood glucose monitor example is a silicone keypad. Thousands of companies mold them. Silicone compression molding is very common, about 95% in China, inexpensive tooling and complete design freedom, rocker switches too. SanTeh has excellent design guide.

Carlingswitch has decorative switches, cable and PCB mount.

Thanks for the help guys

Travisimo - for the push button, are you saying to get something like this: http://www.rapidonline.com/Electronic-Components/Switches/Tactile-Switches/3FTL6-IP67-Tactile-switch-for-cap/80566 mount it to the board and then design and rapid prototype a part to fit on top? and by “off the shelf rubber dome”, are you referring to a rubber silicone keypad?

I dont have any pictures that I can show of the device but, the toggle switch should be no bigger than an ipod hold button and the push button should be about 3/8ths or less in diameter.

Pier, I have experience with rubber keypads but not in low volume. Have you found a way to acquire them affordably in small quantities?

Something like that would work as a budget version, especially if you don’t have an electrical designer that can help. I think you might be able to source some pre-made small pcbs with board mounted switches though, or have an EE help you source them pretty inexpensively if you have access to one. You might also try to investigate the Arduino communities… they are like hackers and have all kinds of little switches, etc for their projects

The important thing is that you secure the switch to the body of your prototype, and then securely hold the button in place above it. That way it will feel good when you actuate the switch… Its also why a board mounted switch has advantages - you can capture the switch/button against the outside cover fairly securely by screwing the board into internal bosses

As far as the rubber buttons, with a little engineering mindset and some clever CAD, you could do an RTV low volume mold of the rubber buttons with a little compressable hollow where the switch is. That type of molding is perfect for qty 1-20 parts and are pretty affordable.