What is a resistive touch switch and how does it work?

Explore the benefits of this common switch type.

Resistive touch switches are found on industrial control panels, medical devices, remote controls, appliances, and a multitude of consumer electronics. They’re liked for their durability, compatibility with gloved hands, and resilience in challenging environments. 

A resistive touch switch is made up of several layers. Imagine a sandwich: the top layer is your touch surface (usually glass or plastic), the middle layer is a transparent conductive film, and the bottom layer is another transparent conductive film. 

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resistive touch switch for a medical oxygen device

How is a resistive touch switch activated?

To activate the switch, a finger completes a circuit by pressing the top and bottom conductive layers together. The conductive layers have a special property - they're coated with a thin layer of resistive material. This resistive material has a predictable electrical resistance. When you press down with your finger, it creates a point of contact between the two layers, causing the resistance to change.

Let’s talk about the science behind resistive touch switches.

When you touch the switch, the voltage (V) across the conductive layers remains constant, while the resistance (R) changes due to your touch. According to Ohm's law, this change in resistance leads to a change in current (I).

A tiny microcontroller connected to these layers measures the change in resistance. It then calculates the exact location of your touch based on the resistance values and feeds this data to your device's software. And voila! You see your screen respond to your touch.

The benefits of resistive touch switches  

  • Resistive touch switches have their perks. They work with a variety of objects, not just fingers – a stylus, pen or even a gloved hand will do. This expands this type of switches range of applications, accommodating different user preferences and needs.
  • Resistive touch switches have low power consumption - a desirable trait for portable devices.
  • They offer a high level of customization in terms of sizes and layouts.
  • They're also quite robust and can withstand harsh conditions, making them great for industrial and outdoors applications. They’re resistive to dust, dirt and other contaminants.

Nelson Miller Group is a leading resistive touch switch manufacturer for some of the biggest brands in the US like Bunn, Honeywell, Baxter, and Kohler.

Looking for help with a resistive touch switch? NMG provides engineering design, manufacturing, and supply chain support for all your switch needs. Contact us to learn more!

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About Nelson Miller Group

NMG has more than 85 years of experience partnering with organizations to bring their industrial, IoT, lighting, medical, telecommunications, consumer, and aerospace products to life. We solve your most complex challenges in engineering design, manufacturing, and supply chain management.  

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