Ensuring Durability: How Standards Like SAE J2020 Ensure User Interface Components Endure Harsh Environments

Posted by Courtney Houtz on May 20, 2024
Courtney Houtz
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User interface components like membrane switches, graphic overlays, and labels are often used in industries that require them to be ultra-durable. In hospitals, a membrane switch on a bedside monitor must withstand repetitive cleaning with harsh chemicals. The safety label on the side of a scuba diver’s oxygen tank must endure prolonged water exposure. On a solar farm, the control panel of the rows of solar panels must tolerate direct sunlight without fading.

User interface components provide critical information to the operator about the medical device, vehicle, machine, etc. Failure is not an option. Industry standards like SAE J2020 ensure these components can withstand the rigors of daily use and harsh environmental conditions.

SAE J2020: Setting the Standard in the Automotive Industry

Developed by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), the J2020 standard provides guidelines for evaluating the performance and durability of printed graphics applied to automotive components.

SAE J2020 is accelerated weathering or UV testing that simulates the damaging effects of long-term outdoor exposure of polymer automotive components. The effects are measured by exposing test samples to varying conditions of the most aggressive components of weathering: ultraviolet radiation, moisture, and heat.

For automotive printed components exposed to sunlight and harsh weather conditions, like a vehicle’s dials and gauges, adherence to SAE J2020 ensures that the graphics remain legible and visually appealing over the vehicle's lifespan.

Dashboard Dials & Gauges

Although this standard is specific to the automotive industry, the automotive industry is considered the one of the strictest when it comes to quality control. If your supplier follows automotive standards like SAE J2020, then you can rest easy knowing their materials meet the gold standard.

Other UV Testing Standards

Any product or user interface component designed for outdoor use should undergo some type of UV weather testing. There are similar standards to SAE J2020 across the automotive industry, including:

  • ISO 4892-3
  • EN 927-1
  • ISO 11507
  • Corrosion Fault Analysis
  • ASTM G154 cycles 1-6
  • ISO 4892-2
  • LUL E4156 clause 11.10
  • SAE J1960
  • SAE J2527
  • ASTM 529 (Carbon Arc)
  • ASTM D570
  • ASTM G23
  • ISO 4892-1
  • ISO 4582
  • CIE publication no. 85
  • Nissan MO 135
  • VW PV3929
  • Ford DVM0067MA
  • JIS B7754

Most European companies test in accordance with the ISO standards, but all of the standards ensure that automotive components can withstand the harsh effects of UV light. Although UV light only accounts for about five percent of the sunlight we receive, UV radiation can degrade polymer bonds, which comprise the plastics and rubber materials used to make printed components. This can lead to cracking, discoloration, or complete mechanical failure.

Weathered DialGauge

Standards for Printed Components Across Other Industries

Although the automotive industry standards are considered the gold standard, similar standards exist in other industries to ensure the durability of printed components in diverse applications.

Founded in 1957 as the Institute for Printed Circuits, the IPC sets standards for the performance requirements of base materials used in printed circuit boards (PCBs). These standards ensure that PCBs meet specific criteria for reliability, thermal performance, and electrical properties.

Formerly known as the American Society for Testing and Materials, ASTM International develops a wide variety of testing standards. For example, ASTM D3359 provides guidelines for evaluating the adhesion of coatings on various substrates. This standard is crucial for industries like aerospace and marine, where coatings must withstand extreme environmental conditions.

SwissQPrint, a leader in digital printing technology, ensures its inks and materials comply with specific standards such as California Proposition 65 and EN73-1, which confirm there are no risky heavy metals in the materials. The EN73-1 standard is a European standard specific for children’s toys that ensures the toys do not contain chemicals that could be harmful if they are accidentally swallowed.

Building Confidence by Following Standards

Standards like SAE J2020 help assure users and manufacturers that products or components are not only durable but also safe. Adherence to relevant standards ensures that printed components meet stringent performance criteria, offering you peace of mind regarding their longevity and reliability, even in the most demanding environments.

Topics: Dials & Gauges, User Interface, Heavy Equipment & Utility Vehicles, Manufacturing & Design, Graphic Overlays

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