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Which Touch International touch screens are able to withstand extreme temperatures and are suitable for the automotive industry? – Vivek

Dear Vivek,

Touch Guy knows that making parts for fighter jets is a whole lot easier than meeting the specifications for the automotive market. There are a few automobile tests that we use to evaluate the effects of temperature extremes on LCDs. The best assessment is the Phoenix test where a car is left in the hottest desert temperatures and everything must work properly when started. The weakest link is usually the LCD, which must meet the 85 degree high temperature range without turning black. In extreme heat, touch panels can become puffy, the coordinates can drift and the sunlight can make the display even harder to read. Once passing the Phoenix test, it is on to the Alaska test with low temperatures where a heater is incorporated into the touch panel to keep the LCD warm and toasty.

Traditionally, most automotive GPS systems have been integrated with 4-wire or 8-wire touch technology. These systems required flexible glass to be incorporated into the top plastic layer in order to prevent puffiness on the surface due to extreme changes in temperature. In situations such as this, a better alternative is 5-wire touch technology which is resistant to extreme temperatures, does not need to be recalibrated and costs the same.

The best solution is to use projected capacitive technology because it provides great optics, no temperature drift, never wears out and you will be able to use the cool multi-touch capability to expand or pinch the map size. Touch International is currently integrating proximity sensing technology into the GPS so that the GPS backlight will dim at night until you get your hand nearby and the brightness will increase based on your proximity.

Stay tuned for details!

Until next time,
Touch Guy.

Hello Touch Guy! My name is Jeffery. I have a new product that I would like to finish the prototype for, but…I cannot find a flexible, yet durable touch film (no glass) I can use. The size needs to be approximately 12″ x 12″ (+/- 1 or 2″) but I am willing to look at other options. I am talking to the TV show, Shark Tank, and counting on a few other companies to bring this product to market. The problem I am facing is manufacturing’s willingness to deal with me. I’m not asking for something for free and am willing to pay for a sample unit, but the supplier must be able to supply 1,000 units at a time. Do you have any suggestions for companies that can provide a flexible touch film? – Jeffrey Gelman, FootMouse TouchPad Team

Hey Jeffery….relax, Touch Guy is here to help.

I hear this story a lot, unfortunately most often from my American competitors. And, a Google search of “touch screens” lists the company most likely to help you–Touch International-on page 12, even though they are the second largest US manufacturer of touch products. (Hear that Bing?)

But let’s get to your….hmmmm, opportunity. First, any company should listen to what you are doing. We like to think of ourselves as experts and will try and fit one of the touch technologies to your needs, instead of the other way around….sometimes it even means sending you to one of our competitors. Secondly, if this is your first touch-based product, to save you time and money, we will suggest one of our inexpensive demo kits or off-the-shelf products.

If you truly need a custom part or electronic controller, there will be a non-recurring engineering charge (NRE). NRE typically starts at $2,500 and can be much higher depending upon your application requirements, etc. The NRE covers an engineer to design your part and a CAD designer to make the approval documents. Once approved, the NRE also will cover the manufacturing drawings and then the “artwork” to make the various silk-screens and decoration masks. Then the machines are programmed to your specific part, as specified in the “proto-build package” of workstation instructions. By this time, the materials will have been obtained and used to make the prototypes. Touch International has a prototype line, identical to their production lines, so that we can make new parts and not be preempted by revenue production. Best yet, Touch International is an equal opportunity company, so anybody willing to pay NRE is never kicked out of line once their project has started. Just so you know, it is rare that Touch Guy sees any profit from a prototype.

The only problem Touch Guy is having is your desire to build 1,000 parts on a first run. If you are asking for mature touch screen technology, 5-wire or 4-wire resistive, then we may not try to talk you out of it. But, no matter how hard we all try, there is usually something that needs to be changed or tweaked after the prototypes are produced and nobody wants 999 almost-worked-perfectly sensors.

So, talk to Touch Guy, we will see what we can get to meet your needs…and good luck selling the concept to the ba-zillion-aires. Oh, and yes, we make flexible touch film in your size.

– Touch Guy