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MacDermid Autoflex films protect touch screens
Autoflex hardcoated polyester film, developed and manufactured by MacDermid Autotype, is being used in an innovative range of products designed to protect touch screens in hand held point of sale devices, mobile phones and PDAs
By: 4 Creative Marketing
Clue Trader is perhaps best known for its range of integrated hand held chip and PIN and point of sale devices that were originally developed for the airline sector, for in-flight passenger purchases. These terminals have WiFi connectivity enabling them to be linked to back-office and warehouse systems once each aircraft is on the ground. The company also produces similar terminals for use in restaurants, trains, busy retail outlets and outdoor events.
The Business Development Executive for Clue Trader, Thomas Drohan, explains that, “Each of our hand-held devices generally incorporates a QVGA TFT display, which is normally operated by a stylus. These screens are reasonably durable in most situations. However, we were finding that with prolonged use in applications with high volumes of transactions, or where operators were clumsy or over-enthusiastic with a stylus, or where they used other sharp input devices, that the screens would suffer from scratches and, most commonly, impact damage. In the worst cases this prevented the terminals being used, resulting in downtime and additional cost for our customers.”
The challenge for Thomas and his colleagues was to find a solution that would offer additional protection to each TFT display but without affecting its definition or tactile response. Thomas adds, “It was crucial that, having developed extremely effective hand-held terminals that make it easy for operators to input data and read information, we did not then compromise these characteristics with a poor quality protective layer.”
The initial prototypes developed by Clue Trader were based on a clear silicon film mounted over each TFT display. Although this material was resistant to damage it was difficult to ensure that it adhered correctly to the display; it was also relatively thick, which adversely affected the tactile response of the touch screen and produced false input readings.
At this stage Clue Trader approached MacDermid Autotype, who provided them with both a range of samples and technical support to help Clue Trader develop the best overall solution. Following further trails using polyester and polycarbonate materials the final solution was based on MacDermid’s Autoflex EB hardcoated polyester film. This has been developed to combine excellent optical clarity with a tough, abrasion and impact resistant outer surface. In addition, the film offers an superior flex modulus that enables it to resist stylus impact.
Using Autoflex, Clue Trader is now able to offer its customers the option of an additional protective layer, which the company has called TuffScreen, and which locates over the front of each TFT display. TuffScreen can be fitted in the factory or supplied as a simple kit for installation in the field. Thomas comments that this, “Is a simple exercise that takes just a few minutes and, if required, the overlay can subsequently be removed without leaving any adhesive residue. Additionally, as Autoflex is easy to print we’re now able to offer the option of applying logos or other graphics encapsulated prior to the application of the impact absording substrate. Different screen sizes are available with more being added all the time as people realise the broad application of the product on games consoles, mobile phones, POS, Sat Nav etc. We are now working with MacDermid Autotype to incorporate their range of MARAG Optical films to give our customers all the benefits of Anti-Glare/Reflection.”
He concludes, “Autoflex has provided us with a simple, reliable and extremely high quality solution to what was becoming a difficult challenge. The film is easy to handle in the factory, provides excellent levels of protection from scratches and point impacts, yet has no affect on tactile feedback or optical clarity. Perhaps as importantly, we’ve had strong technical support from MacDermid throughout the project, enabling us to benefit from their specialised knowledge and resources in the field of industrial and optical films.”
For further information contact Maurizio Fantato, MacDermid Autotype, Grove Road, Wantage, Oxon. OX12 7BZ. Tel: 01235 771111. Fax: 01235 771196.
This information was written by 4 Creative Marketing
Tel: 01296 660080. Fax: 01296 662274.