4-wire vs 5-wire Resistive Touch Screen

August 9, 2022

1. What is a resistive touch screen?


Resistive touchscreens work on the basis of pressure applied to the screen. A resistive screen consists of a number of layers. When the screen is pressed, the outer later is pushed onto the next layer — the technology senses that pressure is being applied and registers input. Resistive touchscreens are versatile as they can be operated with a finger, a fingernail, a stylus, or any other object.


2. Types of resistive touchscreens:

The least expensive of all of the touchscreen options, 4-wire touchscreens are typically found in games, toys, and other inexpensive touchscreen applications. Since the accuracy is based on the top panel interacting with the bottom panel, any damage to the top panel will cause the accuracy to degrade. This generally makes them less reliable after heavy usage or many operating. 4-wire touchscreens also have to be calibrated frequently as they get used to ensure that they register the correct input.

Very similar to 4-wire in durability and usage, the only difference with an 8-wire screen is additional wiring. This additional wiring keeps the screen more precisely calibrated and allows it to auto-calibrate, meaning that it requires less maintenance to maintain accuracy than its 4-wire counterpart.


Despite the similar name, 5-wire touchscreens are significantly different from the 4-wire and 8-wire variations. 5-wire screens measure input from the bottom panel only, not in tandem with the top panel. This means that regardless of any damage to the top layer, the usage of the touchscreen and accuracy of input won’t degrade. This makes them more durable and they generally last through many more operations than other resistive options.


3. Advantages of Resistive Touch Screen:


One of the main reasons why resistive touch panels still exist is their simple manufacturing process and low production cost. The MOQ (Minimum Order Quantity) and NRE (Non-Recurring Expense) are low. The driving is simple and low cost. The power consumption is low too. The resistive touch panel is also immune to EMI well. Although it can’t use the cover lens at the surface, the overlay can make it flexible for designs.

Resistive touchscreens offer an unparalleled level of durability. Manufacturing companies, restaurants, and retailers often prefer them over other types of touchscreens for this very reason. With their durable construction, resistive touchscreens can withstand moisture and stress without succumbing to damage.

You can control a resistive touchscreen using a stylus or while wearing gloves. Most capacitive touchscreens only register commands performed with a bare finger (or a special capacitive stylus). If you use a stylus or a gloved finger to tap the interface, the capacitive touchscreen won’t respond to your command. Resistive touchscreens register and respond to all forms of input, though. You can control them with a bare finger, a gloved finger, a stylus, or pretty much any other object.


4. Difference between 4-wire and 5-wire resistive touch screens:


Resistive touchscreens are often classed as four-wire or five-wire, depending on the technology used to detect touch instructions. Both four-wire and five-wire resistive touchscreens can read and react to your touch requests. On the other hand, five-wire resistive touchscreens have all of the electrodes on the bottom layer. On the other hand, four-wire resistive touchscreens have electrodes on both the bottom and top layers.

In a 4-wire resistive touchscreen, the upper and lower layers are sandwiched together to calculate the exact point of contact. While the exact method of operation varies depending on the specific device, the controller (located on the back) typically sends volts of electricity to the lower layer. And when you press the touchscreen, it identifies the location of the voltage to determine the X and Y coordinates of contact. The voltage alternates between the two layers, allowing for an accurate and effective calculation of contact.

5-wire resistive touchscreens are similar to their 4-wire counterpart but differ in a few ways. For starters, 5-wire touchscreens measure voltage from the lower layer only. The upper layer is simply a shortening pad, meaning micro damage to it won’t hinder the touchscreen’s performance or accuracy. This is in stark contrast to 4-wire touchscreens, which use both the upper and lower layers to measure voltage.

When compared to 4-wire resistive touchscreens, 5-wire models are more durable, accurate, and longer lasting, making them an attractive choice for commercial applications (e.g. hospitals, medical practices, schools, etc.). You can expect to pay slightly more for a 5-wire resistive touchscreen, but it’s a smart investment that will pay off in the long run.