Decoding the Potential for PCAP Touchscreen Technology for Industrial Use

NauticompIndustrial applications require durable and reliable technological solutions to ensure smooth and efficient operations at all times. Until recently, resistive touchscreen technology was the primary type of industrial display that was used for low and high-profile projects. Resistive touchscreen technology allows operators a number of contact-based usage options. By simply applying the appropriate amount of physical pressure, users can use virtually any object including stylus pens and gloved or ungloved fingers to implement various controls. As a result, resistive touchscreens have been the most popular choice for mechanical displays connected to industrial equipment for decades.

But now, there’s a new sheriff in town (sort of) and it’s called the PCAP touchscreen.

What Is PCAP Touchscreen?

Traditionally, Projective Capacitive (PCAP) was mostly relegated to commercial or consumer use displays such as smartphones, tablets, and touchscreen laptops due to its limited capacitive capabilities. Previously, PCAP touchscreens could only be operated using bare finger touch, which made these displays unsuitable for industrial projects that largely require the use of gloves and other protective gear.

Recent technological developments have put an end to that, however. Unlike their predecessors, projected capacitive touchscreens are able to detect touch by measuring capacitance immediately upon contact, regardless of whether or not users are wearing globes. They can even be operated with inanimate objects like stylus pens to uphold health and safety standards on the job.

What Is the Difference between Resistive and PCAP Industrial Displays?

Resistive and PCAP touchscreens both serve the same purpose, which is to obtain data and perform certain functions based on the commands that they receive. The method in which that data is delivered and those functions are performed is what differentiates the two. But how do you know which type of touchscreen technology is right for your industrial operations?

Here’s a comparison between the two.

Resistive Touchscreen

Resistive touchscreens are comprised of numerous thin layers including:

  • A polyester film
  • A top resistive circuit
  • Two layers of conductive ITO (a transparent metal coating)
  • A bottom resistive circuit layer
  • Glass or acrylic layer

Once pressure is applied to the touch panel, the device detects this as a touchpoint and takes direction from that action. The top layer, which is made of polyester film, bends and makes contact with the bottom layer of glass or acrylic. This closes the gap between the layers for a brief moment and activates the electrodes within the device, initiating them to perform specific commands.

Since resistive touchscreen devices operate solely on applied pressure, they’ve been considered to be the ideal choice for most indoor and outdoor manual labour, including industrial applications.

The one downfall with this type of technology is that it can only be used as a single-touch device which means that multiple commands and functions can’t be carried out at the same time. The advantage is that resistive touchscreens are relatively cost-effective to produce and purchase. They can also easily be integrated into a plethora of industrial technology since most equipment is built to be compatible with this type of technology.

PCAP Touchscreens

Alternatively, capacitive touchscreens were previously incapable of being operated with gloved hands. Capacitive touchscreens are comprised of two layers—a surface insulator and a transparent conductive layer.

The reason capacitive touchscreens traditionally require direct human touch, or a conductive instrument, is that the electrodes produced from this type of contact interact with one another to determine the intention of the command. Once the intention of the command is understood, the device can perform the required function to bring it into fruition.

Modern PCAP touchscreens build on this concept so that newer devices are able to receive commands and perform functions even if the user is wearing gloves or using a standard non-conductive stylus pen.

Advantages of PCAP Touchscreens

  • Durability
  • Cost-effectiveness
  • Versatility (can be used in commercial and industrial applications)
  • High touch sensitivity
  • Supports multi-touch functionality
  • Excellent visibility, especially in ultra-bright conditions

Why PCAP Touchscreens Work for Industrial Projects

Capacitive technology in and of itself has been around for decades, but the ability to use it with various instruments and with gloves on is what’s new. Not only is this a relatively novel development, it’s also a major game changer for most standard industrial operations.

PCAP touchscreen technology first gained popularity thanks in large part to its incorporation with smartphone technology. Users love the versatility and easy-to-use interface.

Here are a few reasons why PCAP technology is ideal for modern industrial projects:

Touch Controller

Two types of touch controllers can be used in PCAP touchscreen technology: Integrated Circuit and controller IC chip.

Integrated circuit goes on the surface of the device on a separate PC board. This is referred to as Chip on Board (COB). The signals are transmitted from the touch sensor to the PCB at which point the IC firmware turns the capacitance data into a digital touch position. That touch position is sent directly to the host computer where the data is analyzed and stored.

The second format allows the IC chip to be mounted directly on the flex tail, which is also referred to as Chip on Flex (COF).

Water Resistant

Some industrial projects can take place outdoors in treacherous or mild weather conditions. Rain and other elements are often a factor, resulting in application and technological delays.

PCAP touchscreens are designed with reliable water-resistant capabilities to ensure that no liquids can penetrate the surface layers of the devices and cause the internal structures to malfunction.

Large amounts of water will most likely pool on the top layer until the droplets fall off, or they can easily be removed by the user.

Immune to Noise Pollution

Industrial jobsites are often loud due to all of the machinery operating at the same time. Noise pollution is sometimes a concern, but not when you have PCAP touchscreens at your disposal. Equipped with durable firmware and hardware, PCAP touchscreens are capable of avoiding noise interference altogether.

Supports Gloved Touch

Most importantly, PCAP touchscreens respond to all touches, including gloved hands due to their conductive capabilities.

As one of the leading manufacturers and distributors of custom-designed resistive and PCAP touchscreen technologies in North America, Nauticomp Inc. can help you choose the right type of device for your industrial needs. Contact us today to place an order or to learn more about our existing lines of digital displays.