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Toughen up your coverlens for a longer-lasting User Interface

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Jun 28, 2021

The display you’re designing could be destined for a tough life, outdoors, in an industrial environment, in publicly accessible areas, or in secure applications that could be physically attacked. You need to think about how to protect your display against hazards that could damage or incapacitate the system, impair performance, or simply spoil the appearance. On the other hand, sometimes the main environmental challenge comes from bright ambient lighting or reflections that can compromise readability. How do you ensure a great user experience in all conditions?

Some readability challenges can be overcome using adjustments such as increasing the backlight power. The trade-off is higher power consumption, which may not be possible if the system is using a small battery or self-powered by harvested energy. If there are strict limits, or if a good energy rating is needed to compare well with competitors, you may need to take a different approach.

Enhanced impact resistance

If you need to combine high visual performance with enhanced impact resistance, optical bonding can deliver an elegant solution that delivers both benefits in one process. Filling the small air gap between the LCD front panel and the coverlens with optically clear adhesive prevents ambient light being reflected from the internal surface of the coverlens and display glass while also making the whole assembly tougher. The optically clear adhesive allows the backlight illumination to pass through, so the viewer sees the full intensity of the display while reflections are significantly reduced.

The extra impact resistance that comes with optical bonding can be valuable in an industrial environment, such as an equipment controller on a factory floor, or control panels used in mining or drilling operations, or in public spaces. As industrial organisations seek to adopt smarter processes, handled by smarter equipment, maximising uptime is critical to maintain productivity and taking equipment offline to repair a damaged display is inconvenient and expensive and can also delay other production processes. Damage could be caused inadvertently - maybe accidental contact with a tool or when moving a heavy load - or by natural hazards such as chemicals or abrasive dust in the environment, prolonged rain, or extremely hot or cold weather.

Scratch resistant coatings

For enhanced scratch resistance, we can offer Optical Diamond-Like Coating (ODLC) for greater durability. ODLC will not affect a touchscreen – it can still respond to users wearing gloves, for example – and is lightweight, with high optical transparency and a smooth finish.

On the other hand, equipment for automated banking, cash-dispensing, or access control must be hardened against malicious vandalism or organised attempts at breaking in. For these applications, a coverlens made from toughened glass or annealed glass can provide a suitably enhanced resistance to damage, whether accidental or deliberate, a trivial glancing blow, or full-on attack.

Economical solutions using films and filters

You can design the coverlens to achieve an economical solution without affecting other aspects of the system. An anti-reflective (AR) surface coating is relatively inexpensive and can be applied to any shape coverlens. Features such as touchpad electrodes or any coloured LEDs behind the coverlens are unaffected and you can apply multiple AR layers if needed to deal with particularly strong reflections. You can also combine AR with other coatings such as anti-glare (AG) for a more comfortable user experience if the ambient lighting is bright. Anti-fingerprint (AF) filters are another option that can prevent fingerprint marks spoiling the appearance.

Previous blogs in this series discussed opportunities for styling the coverlens for that extra WOW factor including mirrored or tinted glass, hidden til lit icons and 3D effects, and designing a coverlens to enhance functionality including custom shapes and cut-outs and extended coverglass for additional peripherals.

We’re here to help you choose the right solution for your application. Use our expertise to ensure your display will stand up to everything life can throw at it, meeting all other constraints such as system power and cost, as well as any applicable regulations. Just as importantly, our experience can cut the trial and error from your development process, saving wasted expense and precious time. Get in touch to discuss how we can help you create great looking user interfaces that last.

Want to know more? Download your brochure 'Turn on the Power of Anders Coverlens Customisation' by completing the form below!

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