What is a Resistive Touch Screen?


Resistive touch screen technology satisfies all of the requirements necessary to be classified as a membrane switch. If we take a closer look at the construction shown in figure 1, we see that a resistive touch screen is made up of a membrane layer and static layer separated by tiny dielectric dots that help to keep the switch open until a force is applied to the membrane layer.

What is a Resistive Touch Screen?

The membrane, or flexing layer, is made of thin transparent, conductively coated polyester. When pressed, using finger or stylus, the transparent conductive coating makes ohmic (resistive) contact with the opposing transparent conductor, the static layer, on the other side of the switch.

The Static layer can be made of the same flexible material as the membrane layer or a clear rigid material, such as glass or strengthened glass that is also conductively coated. Adhesive material is applied only on the periphery of the transparent area for sealing purposes. However, there are small dielectric insulators that prevent the membrane and static layers from making contact when not being touched. The insulators dots also help control the actuation force necessary to close the switch.

In the past, one of the drawbacks to resistive touch screen technology is there are several layers and air gaps to look through, each contributing to light transmission loss and diffusion. This problem has been greatly reduced by using a process called optical bonding, where the static layer is bonded, using an optically clear adhesive, directly to a transparent rigid backer, thus eliminating one of the air gaps.

Despite minor drawbacks, resistive touch screen technology is generally considered the most popular type of touch screen. This growing popularity comes from the fact that resistive type touch screens are the least expensive of all touch screen technologies. In addition to low cost, the resistive touch screen design is totally sealed from outside contamination. This is important where NEMA 4 conditions must be met, especially in situations where gloves are frequently worn such as: Industrial Controls, Medical, and Test & Diagnostics applications.

Resistive touch screens can also be combined with a decorative graphic layer and standard membrane switch keyboard components to create a more user-friendly data input device.

Reshine’s resistive touch screen offerings include 4&5 wire versions, as well as multi-touch versions.

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