Push Button Mechanics

I’m trying to design my way around a problem dealing with tactile feedback and wondered if anyone had any good links or information about the different kinds of push button design. I know, for instance, that my keyboard uses a rubber gasket and domes to drive the actuation of the button, but what else is out there? What’s in an arcade button? what’s in a blackberry button? Microswitch?

One of my favorites is IBMs bucking spring keyboard… it was almost indestructible and had a great clickly sound. There are some characteristics of the tactile feedback from the keys that people swear by as well

I hear they’re still making them with the original molds from Leximark, but with USB interface now…


Mechanical key-switch keyboards are technically superior because they provide visual, tactile and auditory feedback. The most popular and widely available mechanical keyswtich keyboard is the IBM model M keyboard (first produced in 1986). Its keyswitches change mechanical force into electrical signals through the use of “buckling springs”. When you press an individual key, you are physically applying increasing force (approximately 30-40 grams of force) against a coiled spring. The spring provides sufficient resistance, so that you can quickly move your fingers across the keyboard and not cause an accidental or inadvertent key press. Once the spring travels a particular distance (appox. 2.5-3.5mm), the spring reach the “catastrophic buckling” point and produces an audible click. The spring moves an actuator back and forth between the open and closed position, and this signals to the computer that a particular key has been pressed.