When shopping for a capacitive touchscreen, you might be wondering how projected capacitive touchscreens differ from surface capacitive touchscreens. Projected capacitive and surface capacitive are both capacitive touchscreen technologies. They are used to power tablets, smartphones, monitors, smart appliances and other touchscreen devices. Projected capacitive touchscreens, however, differ from their surface capacitive counterparts in several ways.

#1) 2 Conductive Layers

While surface capacitive touchscreens typically feature a single conductive layer, projected capacitive touchscreens feature two conductive layers. Most projected capacitive touchscreens are designed with two separate layers, each of which has conductive traces. One of the layers features vertical conductive traces, whereas the other layer features horizontal conductive traces.

#2) Supports Gloved Commands

Many people assume that capacitive touchscreens — both surface and projected — are only capable of recognizing touch commands performed with a bare finger. Projected capacitive touchscreens, though, often support gloved commands. You can typically wear thin surgical gloves made of nitrile or latex while using a projected capacitive touchscreen. Surface capacitive touchscreens, on the other hand, may fail to recognize gloved commands such as these.

#3) Mutual and Self-Capacitance

There are two specific types of projected capacitive touchscreen technology: mutual and self-capacitance. Mutual capacitance is the most common. It operates on the principle that two conductive objects will hold a charge if they are close together. Self-capacitance features the same grid-like array of conductive traces. The difference is that the columns and rows function independently with self-capacitance.

#4) Glass Top Layer

While projected capacitive touchscreens are available in different designs, most of them feature a glass top layer. The uppermost layer of projected capacitive touchscreens is made entirely of glass. Many people prefer projected capacitive touchscreens because of their all-glass top layer. Glass offers excellent optical clarity. Therefore, projected capacitive touchscreens provide a crystal-clear, high-quality display. Surface capacitive touchscreens, in comparison, may feature a glass, plastic or acrylic top layer.

#5) Durability

All capacitive touchscreens are durable. Because projected capacitive touchscreens feature a glass top layer, though, they are considered more durable than surface capacitive touchscreens. They can withstand more use — all while protecting the underlying electronic components from environmental-related damage.

Capacitive touchscreens typically use one of two technologies: projected or surface. Projected capacitive touchscreens differ from surface capacitive touchscreens by featuring two layers, supporting gloved commands, available in mutual and self-capacitance variants, feature a glass top layer, and they are more durable.