MacDermid Autotype and BOM Group have together developed Tuffscreen, a protective shield for protecting touch screens against scratching and impacts.
Touch-screen devices are becoming increasingly popularity for many commercial applications, from point-of-sale to healthcare, which has created new opportunities for BOM Group Ltd, a specialist developer of IT and POS systems.
Tuffscreen was initially developed by MacDermid Autotype and the BOM Group in response to a problem that one of BOM Group's affiliates was experiencing. Broken or cracked screens on devices used on board aircraft for duty-free sales were causing numerous operational difficulties, as well as proving costly both in terms of repair and unit downtime. Rather than fitting very expensive reinforced screens or casings, BOM Group came up with Tuffscreen, which was designed to offer vastly improved protection against scratching and impacts.
This clever solution to the problem relies on the Autoflex EB hardcoated polyester film from MacDermid Autotype. This film combines excellent optical clarity with a tough, abrasion- and impact-resistant outer surface. The secret, as explained by Tuffscreen's Head of Business Development, Tristan Fowler, is about the combination of materials used: "Autoflex EB is adhered onto a clear formula gel layer, creating a multi-layer protector that offers enhanced scratch and impact resistance - the gel layer acts in effect as a cushion."
Sheets are laser cut for maximum precision and are available in a variety of sizes currently up to a standard laptop screen, though larger sizes to be used, for example, over flat screen TVs located in public places are also in development. Fowler adds: "Because there is minimal effect on either visual clarity or tactile response, Tuffscreen can be used effectively even in demanding applications and hostile environments like TVs and game consoles, in-vehicle display systems, warehousing and logistics facilities, and so on."
Thanks to the inherent properties of Autoflex EB, Tuffscreen can withstand not only abrasion, but is also chemically resistant to many solvents and cleaners. This can save companies large amounts of money in the event of accidental spillages and makes the product suitable for use in environments such as power and petrol stations and large distribution centres.
An antimicrobial version of Tuffscreen is currently under development, using Autotex AM from MacDermid Autotype. Fowler states: "We are working closely with a provider of mobile technology to the Scottish Health Authority, as they have ordered a large number of tablet PCs for their healthcare professionals. An effective antimicrobial barrier like the one we would be able to provide with Tuffscreen AM could make a real difference in the fight against hospital-acquired infections when these new devices are eventually in use."