How to solve peeling ink on the membrane panel

solve-peeling-ink-trouble-for-toto-membrane-switches

Intelligent bathroom products bring higher requirements for membrane panel or membrane switch

High end bathroom products are more and more integrated with intelligent technology, and bathroom manufacturers are constantly upgrading their products. Smart toilets are a good example. Nowadays, the most popular intelligent toilet can realize many customized functions, such as preheating, warm water flushing and sterilization. These functions need to be realized through the small and light membrane panel or membrane switch on the toilet.
But along came the problem: due to frequent use, the ink on the toilet membrane panel will fall off after a period of time. Upon the peeling ink, the panel will not be able to distinguish the function of specific button, which will bring very bad user experience. According to TOTO’s quality control requirements, the following effects are expected to be achieved: the ink on the membrane panel must have a life of 1.5 million times. But none of their previoud suppliers could solve this problem, and their membrane panel products could only reach the service life of a few hundred thousand times.
In 2016, TOTO contacted Shanben, which has been working on high-end membrane switches for more than 10 years and has rich experience, and asked for better solution.

Targeted Research: Trials and Cause Analysis of Peeling Ink

After receiving toto’s inquiry, Shanben immediately organized targeted research.
1) Trials to increase ink surface adhesion
A variety of high-end ink materials had been tested, hoping to improve the service life of the ink with its high-performance adhesion. However, even if the top-level ink materials used, the test life was no more than 800000 times, which is far from the 1.5 million times required by toto company.
2) Disassemble the sample and understand the product structure
After confirming that the ink adhesion could not solve the problem, Shanben team began to check the reason from the product structure. The samples provided by TOTO were disassembled, and a comprehensive structural analysis and investigation were carried out. The final conclusion is that the long-time repeated friction between the micro switch and the ink layer of the film panel is the root cause of the peeling ink. How to avoid friction is the direction of thinking.

Innovative Solution: Provides a buffer and protection between the microswitch and the ink layer of membrane panel

How to reduce the friction between the micro switch and the ink layer of membrane panel is the key to solve the problem of ink shedding. So Shanben’s engineers made bold innovation on the basis of the traditional architecture of membrane switch. A layer of back glue and a layer of protective film is added under the ink layer, which can play the role of isolation and protection, buffering the power transferred from the microswitch to the ink layer, thus greatly reducing friction. The specific process is shown thru the comparison of the following two structures.

traditional structure of membrane panel

You can see the direct contact between the micro switch and the panel ink layer. During the use of the micro switch, most of the power will be transferred to the ink layer of the panel ink layer. Under the action of friction for years, the ink will naturally fall off.

innovative structure of membrane panel

On the premise of not affecting the sensitivity of the membrane panel and micro switch, Shanben creatively set up two layers of protection between the micro switch and the panel ink layer, the protective film and the adhesive layer, which greatly absorbed the force transferred from the micro switch to the ink layer, thus reducing the friction of the ink layer and improving the service life.
At the same time, in order to meet the special requirements of the buttons on the film panel, Shanben has made great efforts in the selection of protective film materials and preheating molding process. For more information, please contact us.
With all these innovative measures, the service life of panel ink is largely increased without affecting the overall aesthetic effect of membrane panel. TOTO was very satisfied with the solution, so it opened a door of trust for Shanben membrane panel and membrane switch products to enter high-end bathroom products. Let’s take a look at the finished product.

 

solution-against-peeling-ink-of-membrane-switches1
solution-against-peeling-ink-of-membrane-switches2

What can be learned about Shanben in TOTO use case?

As we all know, the production of membrane switches requires stability and accuracy. The manufacturing process includes screen printing or digital printing, color matching, die cutting, embossing, thermoforming and laser cutting, laminating, dust-free indoor film assembly, and environmental testing and aging test of finished products. Other requirements include a million keystroke test, multi-layer printing, and checkerboard testing. This case shows the strong technical research strength of Shandong, as well as the consistent pursuit: what we do is not simple printing, but high-precision manufacturing and development of membrane panels and membrane switches. It is believed that as a leading membrane switch manufacturer in China, Shanben will provide more application solutions to more users.

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