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​How early in your product’s development should you begin the custom LCD design process?

Whatever new product you’re hoping to release into the world, there’s a good chance it’s going to require a custom LCD screen. Mixers, coffee makers, refrigerators, washing machines, thermostats, space heaters, and even bathroom mirrors and toothbrushes come with custom LCD screens. It’s one of the best ways to set your product apart. For minimal cost, you can bring customers the latest convenience and give them control they’ve never enjoyed before. It’s a real premium in this information age.

In those early days, you map out what features your product will sport -what unique capabilities you want to offer customers. Those are the features that make you stand out from the competition. That’s the time to start planning what kind of LCD screen you want to provide.

Features and Questions

Depending on what you’re producing, some features may be obvious. If you’re building a smartphone, it’s going to be in color. If it’s a thermostat, you might go with monochrome. You and your designers will determine what information needs to be on screen, how it will be presented, sized, and all of that sort of information.

Believe it or not, that’s the time to bring Focus LCDs to the table. You know what you’re trying to impart to the customer and what kind of information they need to give the product, like cooking times or temperatures. What your designers don’t necessarily know is the current state of the art in the LCD industry. That’s our job.

Answers and Opportunities

What you don’t want to do is waste time and money trying to squeeze the output and input into a certain size of screen when there’s a better option out there. Sure, your product is going to have design constraints, but most products have some flexibility, especially in the early days of design. Our designers may be able to show you savings on screens of slightly different dimensions that still fit the design and aesthetics of your product but will allow you to present your information better. There can even be an off-the-shelf solution that’s a good fit, which could save you quite a bit on your LCD screens.

Twenty or a hundred extra pixels in a given direction may be perfectly fine as far as the physical design is concerned. Those extra pixels can make a huge difference in how your product communicates with customers. If you can get them for next to no cost or even at a cost savings, that’s an opportunity you don’t want to leave on the table. The earlier you bring Focus LCDs into your process, the better job our engineers can do making sure you’re getting the best value for your investment.

There are other physical considerations that really benefit from getting Focus LCDs involved early in the design process. One side of the LCD glass has a contact ledge to hold the driver chip. That’s normally located on the short end of the screen to minimize material costs, but design constraints may require a different location. The location of the driver will dictate how the flat flex cable comes from the screen to connect to your printed circuit board. That can require curving around obstacles inside the unit.

When the Design is Done

Once you sign off on the LCD design, Focus LCDs will typically produce 5 prototype units. These give you the perfect opportunity to make sure they fit physically as expected. The mounting points line up, the flex cable can reach your PCB connector, and everything fits just like it’s supposed to. You can also test the screen input and output. Make sure the information looks like you want it to. Make sure the touchscreen interface performs as you expect. Once you’re satisfied, Focus LCDs can have your screens in your hands in no time. They won’t be stuck on a container ship since they’re made here.

There’s no hard and fast rule for when you need to call in Focus LCDs to help with your screen design needs. Basically, once you know the information to be shown and have an idea of how you want it to appear, you’re ready for our help. Give us a call, show us what you have design-wise, and let us go to work to see how we can give you the best customer interface for your dollar.