Today, 66 percent of Americans—more than 215 million people of all ages and backgrounds—play video games regularly, according to the Entertainment Software Association. Three quarters of players are over 18, and the average age of a video game player is 33. Across all ages, players are about half female and half male. Video games have become a valued part of many people’s lives, and nine in 10 players say they are spending as much or more time playing now as they did at the pandemic’s peak.

Video games have the power to bring people from around the world together, helping to create community and foster connection. Eighty-eight percent of players say video games can bring together different types of people, and 83 percent of players agree that video games create a feeling of community. More than three quarters of players say that video games can introduce people to new friends and relationships, and nearly half have met a good friend, spouse or significant other through video games.

The popularity of video games is reflected in sales of hardware and software. For example, the global market for gaming controllers is expected to grow at a cumulative annual rate of 7 percent during the next seven years, according to Transparency Market Research. Global sales are expected to exceed $55.7 billion in 2030. Innovation, ergonomics, durability and cost will be key market differentiators.

One company hoping to cash in on that demand is Cinch Gaming. Based in Farmington Hills, MI, Cinch Gaming was founded in 2013 to produce custom, “professional grade” controllers for Xbox and Playstation video game systems. All of the company’s products are assembled in the USA.

Recently, the company was looking for a way to provide a durable, rubber coating for their controller shells, which are made from ABS. Engineers wanted a material that provided a less sticky, more textured surface that was easy to grip.

Over-the-counter rubber and adhesive products didn’t sufficiently bond to ABS to provide both a durable and tactile surface. Because gamers can use game controllers for long periods of time, Cinch needed a product that could not only withstand extended use, but also provide a comfortable and tactile grip.

Cinch came to Dymax Corp. for help. Dymax application engineers recommended using the company’s SpeedMask light-curable maskant.

SpeedMask resins cure quickly when exposed to UV or visible light, leaving a residue-free surface. These solvent-free materials come in several viscosities for easy application through dipping, spraying, or screen printing. They conform to complex geometries. Formulations are available with high adhesion, secondary heat cure, and high-visibility colors such as pink, blue and green.

They adhere to a variety of metal and plastic substrates, including nickel superalloys and stainless steel. They are used in many industries, including aerospace, power generation, medical devices and metal finishing.

Ordinarily, the materials are intended to be removed following a secondary process, such as painting. In this case, however, Cinch engineers wanted the material to stay in place. The SpeedMask resins adhere well to the controllers and provide the nonsticky, textured feel that Cinch engineers needed.


Dispensing And Curing

A Dymax SG-100-RH handheld pneumatic spray gun was selected to apply the coating. This resulted in additional benefits as it allowed for the coating to be dispensed in a type of splatter pattern that created a more secure grip-like texture that gamers prefer.

The SG-100 is available in both standard- and high-flow models for manually spraying materials for masking and coating applications. The spray gun can dispense from pressurized cartridges, bottles and pails. The lightweight gun has low trigger resistance for hours of effortless spraying. Material flow and spray atomization are easily adjusted for accurate dispensing with less material waste. All wetted components are stainless steel, Teflon or Kalrez, making them compatible with a greater number of fluids. The fluid body is sealed, so there is no exposure to ambient conditions, enabling easy shutdown and cleanup.

A Dymax BlueWave LED flood system was selected to cure the coating because it could cure it in seconds without risking damage to the surface of the controller.

The system produces high-intensity curing energy over a 5 by 5 inch area. Cure times in the 5 to 30 second range are typical. The unit is simple to operate and can be used as a stand-alone system or easily integrated into automated assembly systems.

The system is available in three wavelengths: 365, 385 and 405 nanometers. This enables engineers to optimize the curing process. System benefits include consistent intensity, less energy consumption, a shutter-free design, instant on and off, and cooler curing temperatures. Standard systems include one array, a power supply, and power and interface cords. Optional accessories, such as shields and stands, are available.

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