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Capacitive touch sensors available

04 October 2007

3M has announced the commercial availability of a new polyester-based projected capacitive touch screen. MicroTouch Flex capacitive touch sensors from 3M are ideal for high-volume mobile display products, such as mobile phones, PDAs, MP3 players, and personal navigation systems.

“As consumer demand for touch-enabled mobile devices accelerates in Europe, our high-volume roll form production of MicroTouch Flex capacitive touch sensors will help address the increasing requirement for touch screen sensors from mobile device manufacturers,” said Francesco Fasoglio, European business manager, 3M Touch Systems. “Our team of local field application engineers will add further value by working closely with design houses on customisation and design-in projects.”

The MicroTouch Flex capacitive touch sensor from 3M is manufactured in a roll-to-roll process by applying a variety of patent-pending Indium Tin Oxide (ITO) patterns on lightweight, cost-effective polyester film (PET). The result is an incredibly thin, optically clear projected capacitive touch sensor available to device manufacturers in rolls containing up to 72,000 sensors, depending on size. The roll configuration provides manufacturers with optimal scalability for fluctuating product volumes and production flexibility for changes in product design, component stack-ups and compact integration requirements.

Sascha Goerner, Flex Film senior field application engineer, 3M Touch Systems, commented, “Since Flex Capacitive Sensors are manufactured through a continuous, roll form production process, this helps device manufacturers manage their component supply chain from the prototype phase to pilot scale and full scale-up. Our ability to produce touch sensors on rolls means our customers can get the quantities they need, when they need them.”

“A film-based sensor like Flex Capacitive allows product designers to explore new and unique industrial designs beyond the limitations of traditional square or rectangular touch sensor shapes. As personal mobile devices continue to converge, touch sensor design freedom helps provide product manufacturers a greater ability to differentiate their products,” Goerner continued.

Easily customised into a variety of shapes and sizes, the capacitive touch sensors can also be designed for touch applications ranging from simple button operation to full X,Y touch screen capabilities. Various material thicknesses are available to meet compact design requirements, currently ranging from 0.050mm to 0.125mm in thickness. These can be optically laminated to glass or polycarbonate lens for optimal surface durability, with touch sensitivity “projected” through the lens. Or, by using hard-coated polyester, these sensors can work directly as lightweight touch screens for devices requiring a more economical and thinner touch profile.

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