I would appreciate help comparing the various tactile switch technologies towards achieving a soft feel, conveying quality to the user, while keeping costs and dev time down. These are to be used on front panels of scientific instruments.
This is what I have done so far:
We have tested Omron type of tactile switches 12x12mm (with and without caps) but the feel and sound are metallic and do not seem appropriate for the front panel of a high-end instrument. They feel and sound "cheap".
Metal domes seem to feel better but are often used with membrane overlays and conductive ink circuits on flex pcbs. Can this switches be used, which offer a nicer softer feel, on a regular PCB instead, placed behind an embossed or non-embossed membrane? No need to order a full customised membrane switch array then but we would buy and solder individual dome switches?
The ones we really liked though were the rubber switches (nice soft feel) but these seem to be manufactured as custom full key array products which require a mold and cost is likely to be high. Does the technology of rubber switches exist in discrete switches which we could buy individually and place/solder on a PCB, as we do with regular Omron 12x12 switches? Is this a viable way to avoid using molds and rubber injection/casting?
Overall the ideal answer to this question would be a suggestion on how to achieve soft feel and still keep production/prototyping costs and time low?
Thank you in advance