How Do Touchscreens Work?

There are 2 main forms of touchscreen in use, a resistive or a capacitive touchscreen. Although they work differently they both utilise ITO in different ways…

How Do Touchscreens Work?

There’s no doubt about it, touchscreens have become literally integral into our daily lives. The use of touchscreens has increased dramatically over the last 2 decades, with pretty much every single one of us using a touchscreen in some form on a daily basis.

When you look at the mechanics involved, touchscreens are pretty amazing. The screen was always seen as a protective element, yet now, with touchscreen technology, they have become the main interface for directing commands. But you may be thinking how do touchscreens work – Here we outline the technology used in most screens to deliver the information to each device.

How Do Touchscreens Work?

There are 2 main forms of touchscreen in use, a resistive or a capacitive touchscreen. Although they work differently they both utilise ITO (Indium Tin Oxide) in different ways. ITO is transparent and can be deposited onto glass and plastics. It is also electrically conductive – combine the transparency and the conductivity and you have a very useful element. ITO is used in many applications such as heated windows where a small current is dispersed across the glass, providing de-icing and demisting functionality: especially useful in aircraft cockpits, for instance.

We mentioned touchscreens come in 2 main forms – resistive and capacitive, so let’s take a closer look at each and how they work.

Resistive Touchscreen

A thin layer of ITO is deposited between 2 layers of thin plastic. The outer layer is the actual screen of the device. When downward pressure is exerted on the screen in the form of a touch, the ITO layer can identify a change in charge and the location of it. The change in resistance allows the device to recognise the command and act on it.

Resistive screens are used in many customer facing environments, such as an ATM or a supermarket self-serve checkout due to the fact they can withstand a lot of use. Their robustness has also seen them used within medical and military environments.

Capacitive Touchscreen

Most glass-based touchscreens (your phone, for instance) will use ITO in a different manner. When a thin layer of ITO is deposited onto the surface of the screen, the screen itself becomes conductive and the device will recognise a touch, swipe or pinch due to your own physical touch. As the human body is conductive, your touch will change the charge on the surface of the screen, allowing the device to register exactly where and what kind of gesture.

Diamond Coatings Touchscreens

We can provide both capacitive and resistive touch screens, from development to production volumes, and in sizes ranging up to 1m x 1m. The screens can be provided with anti-glare and other finishes as required, and produced on glass or plastic (flexible or rigid).

If you would like to know more about our touchscreens, please get in touch with us today to discuss your specific requirements.




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Diamond Coatings operate a state-of-the-art magnetron sputtering plant, equipped with clean rooms, from modern factory premises located in the heart of England, the Midlands. We provide a variety of products, namely Indium Tin Oxide (ITO), Anti-reflection (AR) coatings on plastic or glass, monolithic RFI shielding filters on plastic or glass, Touchscreens, capacitive or resistive, glass supply, mesh windows.
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