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Enhancing Durability and Functionality with Waterproof Capacitive Touch Screens

Views: 216     Author: Reshine     Publish Time: 2023-09-08      Origin: Site

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Enhancing Durability and Functionality with Waterproof Capacitive Touch Screens

In today's digital age, touch screens have become an integral part of our daily lives, found in everything from smartphones and tablets to industrial control panels and outdoor kiosks.

Touch technology provides a lot of flexibility for the terminal design, hence, it is widely adopted by commercial and industrial fields.

However, due to the principle of its touch generation, the touch performance will inevitably be affected by external interference. For example, if the home appliance with the touch panel is accidentally stained with water drop, the user will no longer be convenient to operate, and in severe cases, the corresponding function cannot be effectively activated.

At present, there are many solutions in the capacitive touch application field, but most of them are aimed at improving the internal structure of the screen. We propose a terminal design solution that can be correctly identified and waterproof.

As touch screen technology continues to advance, one key feature has gained significant importance – waterproofing. Waterproof capacitive touch screens are revolutionizing industries and applications by offering not only the convenience of touch interaction but also robust protection against the elements.

The Significance of Waterproof Capacitive Touch Screens

Waterproof capacitive touch screens are a specialized type of touch screen technology designed to withstand exposure to liquids while maintaining touch functionality. They offer several unique features and advantages that make them highly desirable for a wide range of applications.

There are international standards that cover waterproofing in detail. The International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) standard IEC-60529, for example, contains definitions for Ingress Protection (IP) ratings. which values the product protection level from dust and water. The highest rating of the product is IP-67, that is, it can handle amounts of dust (dustproof of 6), and can be immersed in water up to 1 m (waterproof of  7) without damage.

Traditional touch screens, while highly responsive and accurate, are vulnerable to moisture, dust, and environmental factors. Water damage, in particular, poses a significant risk, leading to malfunctions and costly repairs. This limitation has fueled the development of waterproof capacitive touch screens, which provide a reliable solution for various industries.

Although the definition of waterproof has not been formally standardized, two subset definitions of waterproofing are becoming widely used in the industry: Water Rejection and Wet Finger Tracking.


Water Rejection

Water rejection is the ability to refuse to touch by mistake while the liquid is on the touchscreen and completely recover after the liquid is removed.

For example, if you accidentally spill coffee on the mobile phone, you don’t want it to automatically make a call or send an email, or even do anything when you are in a hurry to clean the phone. Once dry, you will expect to return to normal function.

It is the most common and important factor for waterproofing, because the liquid will stay on the touchscreen surface, and the touchscreen must be able to return to normal without any false touches.

However, water rejection cannot support touch on the wet surface, which depends on the wet finger tracking.


Wet Finger Tracking

Wet Finger Tracking is the ability to track the position of fingers on the touchscreen in the presence of water. Water on the touchscreen surface produces errors in the capacitive measurement, which degrades touch accuracy. The wet finger tracking function ensures an accurate number.

In the case of water, there always 1-2 mm is normally a good amount of tolerable error. Key functions such as dialing a phone number or sending an email are sufficient to meet operational requirements.

Liquids or any conductive material will affect capacitive sensing signal and touch performance. As below table, the touch performance of the projected capacitive will be affected to varying degrees under different wet conditions.

Liquids or any conductive material

However, the waterproof requirements for touchscreens usually revolve around the user experience and how the product behaves in the presence of water, rather than by using destructive tests.


How Do Waterproof Capacitive Touch Screens Work?

Capacitive touch screens function by sensing changes in the electrical charge when a conductive object, such as a finger or stylus, touches the screen's surface. Unlike resistive touch screens, which rely on physical pressure, capacitive screens offer a more sensitive and precise touch experience.

Waterproof capacitive touch screens are equipped with a protective layer that shields the underlying capacitive sensors from exposure to liquids. This layer can be made from specialized materials, such as a chemically strengthened glass or a durable plastic overlay. These materials not only ensure touch functionality but also provide a sealed barrier against water and other contaminants.


Here's a step-by-step explanation of how these screens function:

1. Capacitive Touch Technology: Waterproof capacitive touch screens are fundamentally based on capacitive touch technology. This technology relies on the electrical properties of conductive materials, such as the human body, to detect touch input.

2. Multiple Layers: These touch screens consist of multiple layers, with the top layer being a protective and touch-sensitive surface.

3. Protective Layer: The top layer of the screen is typically made from materials like strengthened glass or durable plastic. This layer serves two primary functions:

4. Touch Sensitivity: It provides touch sensitivity, which means it can detect when and where a conductive object, like a finger or stylus, makes contact with the screen.

5. Protection: It acts as a barrier to protect the underlying capacitive sensors from physical damage, moisture, and contaminants.

6. Capacitive Sensors: Below the protective layer, there are layers of capacitive sensors. These sensors create an electrical field on the surface of the screen. This field constantly monitors for changes caused by conductive objects.

7. Detection of Touch: When a conductive object touches the screen, it disrupts the electrical field in the vicinity of the touch point. The capacitive sensors detect this change and precisely locate the touch point on the screen.

8. Waterproofing: To make the touch screen waterproof, the protective layer is sealed tightly to prevent the ingress of water and moisture. This sealing process is crucial for maintaining the functionality of the screen even when it's exposed to water.

9. IP Rating: The degree of waterproofing is often specified using an IP (Ingress Protection) rating. For example, an IP67-rated touch screen can withstand immersion in water up to one meter deep for a specified time.

10. Sealed Edges: The edges of the touch screen are also sealed to ensure that water cannot seep into the sensitive electronic components.

11. Hydrophobic Coating: Some waterproof touch screens feature a hydrophobic coating on the top layer, which helps repel water and prevent droplets from interfering with touch detection.

12. Enhanced Durability: The combination of the protective layer and sealing not only makes the screen waterproof but also enhances its overall durability, making it resistant to scratches and physical damage.

13. Sensitive Touch Response: Despite being waterproof, these touch screens maintain their sensitive touch response, allowing users to interact with them accurately, even when the screen is wet.

14. In summary, waterproof capacitive touch screens rely on capacitive touch technology to detect touch input while incorporating protective measures such as sealing and durable top layers to make them resistant to water, moisture, and contaminants. This technology is widely used in various industries and applications where exposure to water is a concern.


Key Features and Benefits:

1. Water Resistance: Waterproof capacitive touch screens are designed to resist water and moisture. They can withstand splashes, rain, or even complete submersion in water, depending on their IP (Ingress Protection) rating.

2. Durability: These screens are highly durable and resistant to scratches, making them suitable for rugged environments and applications.

3. Sensitive Touch Response: Capacitive technology provides a highly sensitive and accurate touch response, allowing for precise touch input, even when the screen is wet.

4. Enhanced Longevity: The protective layer and sealing of these screens contribute to their longevity by preventing water damage, which can lead to malfunctions.

5. Easy Cleaning: Waterproof capacitive touch screens are easy to clean and disinfect, making them suitable for use in medical, food service, and industrial settings where hygiene is crucial.

6. Customization: Manufacturers can customize these screens in terms of size, shape, and functionality to meet the specific needs of various industries and applications.


Applications for Waterproof capacitive touch screens:

Waterproof capacitive touch screens find applications in a wide range of industries, including:

1. Outdoor Kiosks and Digital Signage: They are used in outdoor information kiosks, ATMs, and digital signage displays exposed to the elements.

2. Medical Devices: Medical equipment like patient monitors and diagnostic devices benefit from these screens due to their hygienic properties.

3. Industrial Control Panels: Used in manufacturing and automation systems where they need to withstand harsh industrial conditions.

4. Marine Navigation: Marine navigation systems, fishfinders, and chartplotters use waterproof touch screens for durability at sea.

5. Agriculture: Agricultural machinery employs these screens for precision farming and outdoor use.


Suggestions on Terminal’s Design for Better Waterproof

1. The touch system should be designed to prevent water from easily accumulating on the touch screen surface.

The better waterproof effectiveness is a fully flat design.

The touch system

2.  The frame of the touchscreen should not be a conductor.

Because when the water flows through, it will ground with the system through the frame, which results in a signal effect similar to finger touch.

In addition, if the user is connected to the touch screen through water, it will also cause a phenomenon similar to finger touch, resulting in false touch.

resulting in false touch

3. Applying waterproof coating onto the cover plate can reduce the water adhering to the surface, which is of great help in reducing the interference phenomenon of water.

interference phenomenon of water

4. A proper UI design can also reduce water interference in operation.

Water is easily accumulated on the edge area, hence, it is better to avoid designing the touch UI around the area.

UI design

All in all, according to the above terminal design, the waterproof effect can be achieved better. Moreover, customized waterproof displays and designated IC during production can also enhance waterproofing.


Reshine Display is specialized in providing custom solutions tailored to meet our customers' unique requirements. Whether you need ODM or OEM support, our team is dedicated to delivering the perfect touch screen display solution for your specific needs.Our product lineup includes capacitive touch screens, resistive touch screens, and TFT LCD displays, available in sizes ranging from 2.4 inches to 32 inches.Visit reshine-display.com to reach out our dedicated team. caroline@reshine-display.com

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