“Stainless steel” film gives quality at a low cost

A new development uses a hard-coated PET film for use as a graphics overlay material on keyboards, fascias and instrument panels.

Called Autotex Steel, the material has an ink-receptive layer on the reverse and a specially developed hard-coated outer layer, which is chemically bonded and UV cured. The hardcoat layer has a textured finish which, when the film is printed on the reverse with standard metallic or newly developed mirror inks, creates the appearance of a brushed stainless steel panel.

This film has the advantage of offering a high-quality keyboard or graphics panels at a lower cost using standard processes such as embossing. Embossing makes Autotex Steel ideal for use with domed tactile membrane keypads or in applications where keys or panel areas need to have raised edges, as the material has an excellent flex modulus, with a typical life for domed keys in excess of five million actuations.

By comparison, applying buttons to a steel surface would require separate components, decreasing the number of potential applications, as well as making the finished product more expensive. With Autotex Steel, the operation is simple and the buttons are incorporated as one single part, making it easy to create sealed fascia or keyboard panel impervious to liquid spills.

Author
Justin Cunningham

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