capacitive switch technology

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By Steve Baker | Feb 27, 2019
Capacitive touch sensor

Adopting new technologies can be extremely demanding and daunting. At GMN, we not only understand your vision, but also have the capabilities and global resources to bring your ideas to life.

When a commercial appliance manufacturer wanted to make a fundamental shift in their product’s user interface from mechanical switches to touch technology, the engineers at GMN brought their years of experience, technical know-how, and vast capabilities together to design an optimal solution. From circuit tracing to utilizing clear polymer inks, GMN developed a capacitive touch solution that fit every need and requirement.

To learn more about the evolution of this project and how GMN overcame its many challenges, read our case study here.

By Steve Baker | Nov 1, 2016
GMN's capacitive switch demo unit allows you experience capacitive switch technology firsthand.

In today’s world, consumers interact with touchscreen devices on a daily basis. As a result, consumers have started to expect the presence of non-tactile technology in a growing number of products. This has caused the demand for the use of capacitive switch technology to rapidly increase.

Capacitive switch technology provides a cost-effective solution for sleek, modern product designs that match current market expectations. Providing thinner, cleaner, and more sealable solutions, capacitive switches have numerous advantages over more mature technologies such as keyboards and membrane switches. To learn more about capacitive switch technology, visit our capacitive switches page or past blog entry.

As experts in this cutting-edge technology, GM Nameplate offers a wide and unique range of capacitive switch capabilities. From early development to final production, GMN can support customers throughout the entire manufacturing process. We are currently working on several capacitive switch projects such as user interfaces and safety mechanisms for a variety of industries including appliance, heavy equipment, and wearable device. GMN also has the ability to incorporate capacitive switches into many of the products we already produce.  

Therefore, GMN is excited to announce the release of our new capacitive touch demonstrator. This innovative demo unit allows customers to experience firsthand the variety of capacitive switch options that GMN has available, including rotary and linear sliders and integration with curved surfaces.

Click here to learn more about our new demo unit!

By Steve Baker | Jan 13, 2016
Capacitive switch technology

When evaluating capacitive switch technology, it is important to consider the different design options available.  At GM Nameplate, we offer capacitive switch technologies that take advantage of both self and mutual capacitive touch sensor designs. Each sensor design approach has unique advantages depending on the intended application and target industry.

Self capacitive touch sensors require a single pin on the touch controller, which is linked to a single touch sensitive location on your product. This type of design is well suited for backlit touch switches with large lit regions, which is a very popular design option today. These sensors often allow for simplified circuit layouts, which can also help reduce manufacturing costs.  In many cases, they also require less space for circuit routing, which is an important factor for space limited designs.

When compared to mutual capacitive designs, self capacitive designs can be less effective when used in environments where standing moisture is present.  They can also be more difficult to tune for sensitive touch applications.

Mutual capacitive touch sensors are linked to two pins on the touch controller.  This can allow for matrixing of touch sensors to reduce the overall pin count on designs with a large number of touch sensitive zones.  Sensors with mutual capacitive design structures can be easier to tune for optimal performance on a variety of touch surface thicknesses and in some cases they may provide reduced signal noise for products in operating environments with EMI noise sources. 

When compared to self capacitive switches, mutual capacitive designs are also better suited to handle moist environments or applications requiring gloved hands.

Click here to learn more about the evolution of tactile feedback technology in user interface devices.

By Steve Baker | Jan 12, 2016
Capacitive touch for user interfaces

Tactile feedback in user interfaces is undergoing significant change as people become accustomed to the touchscreen surfaces of smartphone and tablet devices. Technology has adapted over the years from keyboards to membrane switches to touch screens.

When electronic keyboards were first introduced, they were designed to provide the same tactile feedback as a typewriter with the click and stroke of the keys known as full travel technology. As users became more accustomed to keyboards, the “click” was no longer as important and quieter keyboards entered the market.

After keyboards, the next evolution was membrane switches. These were originally seen as “cheap” alternatives because they didn’t provide the same tactile feedback as keyboards. Once metal domes were added into the product stack-up, membrane switches gained greater popularity due to the improved tactile feedback of the buttons. Now membrane switches are very common and can be seen on everything from consumer to medical devices.

Recently, touch screens have become the most sought after technology for user interface devices. As customers become accustomed to non-tactile touch technology, they expect it in a wider range of the products they use. With this shift, businesses are looking towards capacitive switch technology as a solution.

The benefits of capacitive switch technology compared to these more mature technologies are numerous. First and foremost, there are no moving parts in a capacitive switch stack-up. This means that these parts are higher quality and will have a longer life. Parts using this technology are also easier to clean without the crevices between buttons. Capacitive switch technology uses dedicated switch locations for the points of user contact and the circuit tail is connected to the motherboard of a printed assembly circuit board.

Within capacitive switch technology there are multiples types available including mutual and self. These will be examined along with the benefits of each in our next blog article.

By Gerry Gallagher | Feb 6, 2014
Manufacturing decorative and functional parts for gaming consoles

GM Nameplate has been providing components to Microsoft for their Xbox systems since the original device, and including the latest Xbox One. Our China facility manufactures various parts on the Xbox One including a capacitive touch membrane circuit, badging, labels and more.

The flexible circuit is one of the most interesting parts that we manufactured for the device. The circuit utilizes capacitive touch technology for the power on/off and optical disc drive (ODD) eject switch. Utilizing this technology increases durability, as there are no mechanical components and meets all the functional needs of the switch. Our engineering team worked closely with the Xbox team to create a cost effective solution meeting all the performance criteria.

In addition to the flexible circuit we also manufactured two 2D electroform logos (in addition to labels and other components) for the Xbox One console and Kinect device. To meet the desired aesthetic GMN developed a unique process to tint the 2D electroform to achieve Xbox One’s unique dark chrome color. This process can be used to create a variety of shades and colors for 2D electroform parts.  The GMN produced logos can be found on the top of the console and on the Kinect device.

Our work with Microsoft on components for the Xbox One is a great example of how our diverse capabilities can serve multiple needs of a customer – in turn reducing supply chain costs and simplifying logistics. The GMN capabilities featured on the Xbox One can be found on various other products across nearly every industry.