Surface acoustic wave (SAW) touchscreens are on the rise. They live up to their namesake by using acoustic waves to detect touch commands. Acoustic waves are essentially sound waves. When powered up, SAW touchscreens will produce acoustic waves over the top layer. Performing a touch command will disrupt the acoustic waves, which the SAW touchscreen will recognize as a touch event.

SAW touchscreens offer several advantages. With their use of acoustic waves, they are long-lasting. They can often last for over 50 million touches, and they can even withstand harsh outdoor environments without degrading. So, what are the parts in a typical SAW touchscreen exactly?

Glass Top Layer

While there are different types of SAW touchscreens, nearly all of them are designed with a glass top layer. The uppermost layer of a SAW touchscreen is made completely of glass. Other types of touchscreens have a top layer as well. The material from which it’s made, though, may vary. The top layer may be made of acrylic or plastic, or it may be made of glass. SAW touchscreens, on the other hand, almost always feature an all-glass top layer.


SAW touchscreens have a controller as well. The controller is a device that’s responsible for converting analog touch signals into digital touch signals. All touchscreens have a controller — and SAW touchscreens are no exception. For a touchscreen to identify your touch commands, it needs a controller. The controller in a SAW touchscreen will convert your touch commands into digital touch signals so that they can be properly processed.


Transducers are found in SAW touchscreens. Transducers are small devices that convert mechanical energy into an electrical signal. They work in conjunction with a controller. A SAW touchscreen’s controller will send signals to its transducer. The transducer will then convert the signals into acoustic waves.


Another important of a SAW touchscreen is the display. The display, of course, is responsible for producing images. SAW touchscreens are available in different sizes. Some of them measure just 8 inches diagonally, whereas others measure 23 inches diagonally. A larger size, of course, means a larger display. SAW touchscreens have a built-in display that projects images.

Liquid-crystal displays (LCDs) are typically used in SAW touchscreens. The LCD will produce images while the SAW touchscreen’s controller and transducer will support touch commands. LCDs are energy efficient, produce high-quality images and are long-lasting, all of which makes them a popular choice for touchscreens like SAW devices.