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Compound, water-resistant, illuminated pushbutton switches broaden lineups

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Industrial control switch

The GQ16F-10/J/S model from Zhejiang Hongbo is rated at 36VDC, 2A. It is made of stainless steel or brass.

Suppliers underscore multiple functions and value enhancements to match various requirements.

Makers of pushbutton switches in China are releasing more compound, water-resistant and illuminated types to expand their selections and boost competitiveness. They also continue to improve product performance, developing models with higher reliability and longer life span. New units come in various styles and colors, and adhere to major safety and environmental protection standards.

Compound variants are becoming popular because of multifunctionality. These can be used as a rotary or selector control. Kaihua Electronics Co. Ltd is among the suppliers that have steadily increased their output of the type.

Illuminated versions are likewise gaining ground. These feature an LED, or a lit sign in red, white, green, yellow or orange. Models with a band of light and those in different beam shapes are available. To suit wet environments, water-resistant kinds employ silicone rubber for the casing.

In addition to product-driven efforts, some suppliers are investing in semi- or automatic equipment to expand manufacturing capacity while reducing manpower requirements and expenditure. With such a strategy, Kaihua’s annual production capability jumped to 70 million from 50 million units last year. The maker’s pushbutton switches have a mechanical life span exceeding 100,000 cycles and come with a 1-year warranty.

Driving makers’ endeavors is the line’s broad application range, with demand from the fast-growing video game console sector the strongest. Industrial equipment, home appliances and consumer electronic devices make up the rest of the product’s key market bases.

Local enterprises remain optimistic about the category despite the economic slowdown in Europe and North America, which are the main destinations of China-made switches. In 2011, exports dropped, denting the line’s 20 percent growth rate sustained the previous two years. The continuing appreciation of the yuan, rising material and labor costs, and intense competition are also major challenges.

Under efforts to attract more orders, most makers are participating in international trade exhibitions in China. A number, especially major domestic players, also plan to take part in shows overseas such as the Electronica 2012 in Munich, Germany.

There are more than 200 manufacturers of pushbutton switches in China. They gather mainly in Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces, and Shanghai. All offer OEM and ODM services. Some companies have long-term and technical partnerships with customers.

Pushbutton switches

China-made pushbutton switches are classified based on casing material, function and installation.

In the first category, the options are plastic and metal types. The latter were Zhejiang Hongbo Push Button Manufacture Co. Ltd’s best-sellers in 2011. The supplier has close to 40 series in diameters of 8, 10, 12, 16, 19, 22, 25 and 30mm. It owns more than 40 local patents.

By function, there are general, emergency, key lock, illuminated, self-lock and -reset, and selector head variants. The first usually comes with a flat or dome top. Some models are in the shape of a finger or hand. Flat varieties are typically square, rectangular or round. Emergency switches feature large or mushroom heads to allow easier operation and better control.

Based on installation method, mount and screw kinds make up the mainstream choices.

Units meet UL, TÜV, IEC 947 and RoHS guidelines, with some carrying CQC, PSE or CUL approval as well.

Exported products are continually updated to comply with customers’ increasingly stringent requirements. Nova Electronics Co. Ltd, for instance, now follows UL 61058 instead of UL 1054, and has raised its CQC attestation to GB15092.1-2010. The company produces the Kan-L5, Kan-L6 and Kan-J4 series, which suit home appliances such as vacuum cleaners, coffee makers, and electric ovens and heaters.

The key materials for production are metal and plastic. The contacts are made of silver alloy or brass.

Metal pushbutton switches use nickel- or gold plated stainless steel or brass for the keystroke and crust. Other models employ ZnAl.

Nonmetal counterparts employ high-grade plastic for its flame-retardant, insulating, and anti-shock and -moisture properties. The base is made of PBT.

Mainland China suppliers source inputs primarily from local providers. They also turn to Taiwan, Japan and US companies.

With costs rising, makers pushed up prices by about 5 percent in recent months.

Taiwan: Value additions highlighted

Taiwan suppliers offer pushbutton switches with a white, red, yellow, green or blue LED light and enhanced functions. The last includes momentary-snap, latching, locking and unlocking actions to ensure safe operation and prevent accidental activation. In addition, makers adopt a double sliding contact structure for better product reliability.

Water-resistant models are also available. In terms of cosmetic designs, a trendy appearance is emphasized so laser etching is a popular option. There are smooth-to-the-touch models as well.

Units come in 100, 200, 300, 400, 500mA, and 1, 3 and 5A power ratings. A few can support up to 15A. Most mini models have 100 and 300mA.

The two major configurations are single-pole, single-throw and single-pole, double-throw. The first covers basic versions with on and off functions, while the latter connects two terminals to a common one to enable more complex actions. There are also versions with a 4 or 6-pole circuitry.

Pushbutton switches from the island have an average life span of 50,000 cycles. Most come in custom shapes, styles and colors. The major applications include home appliances, audio products, consumer and industrial electronics, and instrumentation.

Taiwan has a mature switch industry so manufacturers position themselves as one-stop shops with a product range for consumer and industrial electronics to boost competitiveness. Aside from pushbutton variants, their selections constitute rocker, tilt, toggle, slide, micro, key, DIP, encoder, thermostat, rotary, knob, tactile and touch units. Most manufacturers are also capable of developing green, lead-free and RoHS-compliant switches.

Related reports:
Slide switches: Line emphasizes compact, high-precision types
Membrane switches: Product feature upgrades enhance sector

Product gallery

Industrial control switch

Kaihua Electronics Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: TA126001D01
MOQ: 5,000 units
Delivery: 15 days
Description: 12VDC 50mA; 130±50gf operating force; 100,000 cycles/min mechanical life span; RoHS

Industrial control switch

Light Country Co. Ltd
(Taiwan)

Model: LC83
MOQ: Negotiable
Description: 250/125VAC 15A; >1,000Mohm insulation, <20mohm contact, >1,500V 1min high voltage resistance; >30,000 cycles mechanical, >10,000 electrical life span; 3 to 6N actuating force; silver alloy contacts, copper, silver-plated terminal, PA66 housing; IP65 rating; for neon, tungsten lamps

Industrial control switch

Nova Electronics Co. Ltd
(mainland China)

Model: Kan-L6-40-r (WP1)
MOQ: 2,000 units
Delivery: 20 days
Description: 125VAC 8A, 250VAC 10, 12, 16A; 10,000 cycles life span; IP65 rating; UL, TÜV; OEM, ODM orders accepted

Industrial control switch

Salecom Electronics Co. Ltd
(Taiwan)

Model: E80-P
MOQ: Negotiable
Description: Straight type; SPDT, DPDT configuration; 1A contact rating at 120VAC or 28VDC, 0.4VA maximum at 20VAC; 20mohm maximum contact, 1,000Mohm minimum insulation resistance; 1,000V rms dielectric strength at sea level; 50,000 cycles electrical life span

Industrial control switch

Switchtech Enterprise Ltd
(Taiwan)

Model: 1500 Series
Description: 12VDC 50mA maximum rating; 50ohm maximum initial contact resistance; 130±30gf four-directional, 240±30gf center operating force; 200,000 cycles minimum life span

Industrial control switch

Well Buying Industrial Co. Ltd
(Taiwan)

Model: Pushbutton Switch With LED Light
MOQ: 1,000 units
Delivery: 28 days
Description: Lock, unlock function; noiseless; long electrical life span; 2-color LED; for communication equipment

Industrial control switch

Yat Shun Electronic Co. Ltd
(Hong Kong)

Model: PBS 4010
Description: 250VAC 1A, 125VAC 3A; 20mohm maximum contact resistance; 1kVAC/1min dielectric strength; for telephones, toys

Note: All price quotes in this report are in US dollars unless otherwise specified. FOB prices were provided by the companies interviewed only as reference prices at the time of interview and may have changed.

Disclaimer: All product images are provided by the companies interviewed and are for reference purposes only. Those product images featuring products with trademarks, brand names or logos are not intended for sale. We, our affiliates, and our affiliates' respective directors, officers, employees, representatives, agents or contractors, do not accept and will not have any responsibility or liability for product images (or any part thereof) which infringe on any intellectual property or other rights of a third party.

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