Glass and plastic are two of the most common materials used in the construction of touchscreens. Whether you’re shopping for a tablet computer, a smartphone, a human machine interface (HMI) or any other touchscreen device, it will likely feature one of these materials. More specifically, the top layer — known as the overlay layer — will likely be made of glass or plastic. While these materials may look the same, there are nuances between them. So, should you choose a touchscreen with a glass or plastic overlay layer?

Benefits of Glass Overlays

Touchscreens with a glass overlay typically offer clearer images than those with a plastic overlay. This is due to the fact that glass is nearly completely transparent. All touchscreens have a display device, which is located below the overlay. With a glass overlay, the images produced by the display device will look clearer thanks to the transparent properties of glass.

You may notice that images look brighter when projected through a glass overlay as well. Glass overlays allow approximately 90% of all light to shine through them. Why is this important? Well, touchscreens require backlighting. backlighting is part of the display device. It’s responsible for producing light that illuminates the display. The use of a glass overlay will result in a brighter overlay than that of a plastic overlay.

Benefits of Plastic Overlays

There are still reasons to choose a touchscreen with a plastic overlay. When compared to glass overlays, plastic overlayers are more scratch resistant. They aren’t necessarily scratch proof. All types of overlays can develop scratches, including those made of plastic. With that said, scratches aren’t as common with plastic overlays. Plastic overlays are more durable and scratch resistant than their glass counterparts.

Plastic overlays are available for resistive touchscreens. You can find resistive touchscreens with plastic overlays, and you can find them with glass overlays. Capacitive touchscreens, on the other hand, are typically limited to glass overlays. If you’re looking to buy a capacitive resistive touchscreen, you can choose a plastic overlay. For a capacitive touchscreen, conversely, you’ll have to choose a glass overlay.

Choosing Between a Glass or Plastic Touchscreen

You really can’t go wrong with either glass or plastic touchscreen. Both of these materials are used to construct the overlay layer of touchscreens. Glass overlays simply produce clearer and brighter images. In comparison, plastic overlays offer a higher level of protection against scratches and are available for resistive touchscreens.