Armalex is for applications where durability is needed. It is used for graphic overlays for membrane switches, control panels, signs, menu inserts, placards, business cards (fancy ones), keyboard templates, even number plates for BMX bikes.
Membrane switches are functional interactive controls that have more than just the graphic overlay. The top layer of a typical membrane switch construction is the graphic overlay. In the case of membrane switches, other layers may be added such as spacer layers with adhesive, electronics, circuitry, and controllers. One question that arises when constructing a switch is: how do you keep the adhesive only where you want it? The answer is with selective adhesive mask — CLICK HERE to see a demo video. Just realizing that you can design areas you want to mask off from adhesive will give you more options when designing.
Armalex is 10 mils thick, which is about 1/3 the thickness of a typical credit card. It can be made in other thicknesses; however minimums will sometimes apply. The top surface (right reading) side is offered in four finishes: Gloss, Hard Shell Gloss, Velvet, and Matte. Since it is printed subsurface, the top side is the surface that is exposed to abrasion, the human touch, temperature changes, cleaning agents, and other things that are found in the workplace. The other side is coated for printing.
We have developed products that integrate with Armalex. This includes selective adhesive mask and spacer materials. We also offer a variety of adhesives, and even bundle them with Armalex.
For those who want to print circuitry, our new InkTronic™ conductive foil and dielectric foil will give you that capability.
The next few paragraphs will go over some of the applications that utilize Armalex.
Control Panels & Graphic Overlays:
A membrane switch has more layers than the graphic overlay. The graphic overlay is just the top layer. The layers underneath the graphic overlay consist of spacer layers with adhesives and printed circuits that are actuated when buttons are pressed.
Control Panels can be considered a subcategory of overlays. When you want a control panel subsurface printed, Armalex is an excellent choice for most jobs. Once printed adhesive is usually applied to the printed side, and then it is cut out. This shows windows printed with transparent yellow, buttons, and cut outs. The buttons will be over a spacer layer to hold them away from the contact until they are pressed down. The holes in the lower left are for tactile buttons and electronics to be pushed through.
With the Gerber system (comprised of the Gerber Edge FX™ for printing and one of the Gerber integrated plotters for cutting), you can produce many (if not all) of the layers. Circuits can now be printed using the Gerber Edge® and InkTronic conductive foil.
Armalex works great for sign applications because it is more difficult to vandalize than many other materials. A finished sign can have a fine matte, semi matte, or gloss finish. Adhesive can be laminated to the printed side, or it can be inserted into a frame or directory without adhesive. New Armalex Hard Shell Gloss has a scratch resistant top-surface that has passed a 5-year UV durability test and also works well for dry erase applications.