ZYBRID® sensors show their credentials in another punishing public use application
Touchscreen solutions provider Zytronic, through its Danish distributor Daimler Industri, has scored a new contract win in the appliance market. The company’s highly robust touch sensors, based on its innovative Projected Capacitive Technology (PCT™), have been selected for professional washing machine manufacturer Nortec’s latest industrial class product - the EC Hydros QW.
For installation in public areas, such as apartment buildings, university accommodation blocks, commercial laundries and hotels, the EC Hydros QW machines have larger load capacities than normal domestic models and have been designed to combine innovative design with the ability to function in demanding public-use/industrial environments.
The sophisticated user interface (UI) each unit incorporates not only allows easy setting of the chosen wash program, but also provides a booking/payment system as well as advanced features such as text identification/access. This UI is placed behind a stylish black, smooth front glass panel that goes across the top of the unit. This differentiates it from the conventional switch/dial-type controls normally found on this type of machine, presenting an attractive, modern exterior while ensuring robust, highly reliable operation. A 5.7-inch version of the Zytronic ZYBRID® touch sensor has been specified in order to deliver accurate and responsive touch control, as well as the strong through-glass performance needed. Several hundred of the washing machine units are already being installed throughout Denmark, Finland and Sweden.
As Esben Juul Jensen, Technical Manager at Nortec, explains. “Our goal was to create a user-friendly design completely distinct from anything seen in the industry before, with smartphone-like touch images that would provide an intuitive UI and an enjoyable, trouble-free user experience. We have been working with Zytronic and Daimler Industri for several years now and though we looked at touchscreen solutions from other companies, PCT stood out as the best touch technology to adopt.”
“The front panel display design for the EC Hydros QW was a very important consideration for Nortec. It was essential that the machine’s overall aesthetics would be just as good as its operational performance,” states Ian Crosby, Sales & Marketing Director for Zytronic. “The ZYBRID® sensor specified is not vulnerable to scratches, exposure to harsh chemicals, vibration or sudden impacts affecting its ability to function fully, so the risk of downtime for repairs to be carried out is minimized.”
The patented PCT™ sensing mechanism employed by ZYBRID® is optimized for uncompromising operational environments, such as those where the new Nortec washing machines will be deployed. It consists of an intricate matrix of micro-fine (10 µm diameter) copper capacitor elements embedded into a laminated substrate. The substrate can be placed behind a protective overlay (of glass or polycarbonate construction) that can be over 10 mm thick. This keeps the sensor isolated from potential sources of damage and as a result it has a markedly longer operational life span than those found in alternative touchscreen solutions (such as surface capacitive or resistive) - where the sensor is constantly under threat as it is on the outer surface of the screen. Furthermore PCT™ is better matched to this type of application than surface acoustic wave (SAW) optical, or infrared (IR) touch sensors, which necessitate the inclusion of cumbersome bezel frameworks to house the sensing elements and thus hinder the modern eye-catching designs that users now expect, as well as making the UI more difficult to clean.
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