Eliminating Newton Rings

If you’re an OEM, you have likely heard about, or been bedeviled by, Newton rings. Also known as Newton’s rings, they are a common phenomenon in which a series of concentric circles, or rings, is formed by light reflecting between a curved surface and a flat surface.

You might be thinking, are they named after that Newton? Yes! The phenomenon is named for Sir Isaac Newton, the famous physicist and mathematician who first investigated them in 1666. According to Encyclopedia Britannica, Newton rings are “a series of concentric light- and dark-colored bands observed between two pieces of glass when one is convex and rests on its convex side on another piece having a flat surface. Thus, a layer of air exists between them. The phenomenon is caused by the interference of light waves — i.e., the superimposing of trains of waves so that when their crests coincide, the light brightens; but when trough and crest meet, the light is destroyed. Light waves reflected from both top and bottom surfaces of the air film between the two pieces of glass interfere.”

Little-known fact about Newton rings: Sir Isaac first studied this phenomenon when he was sequestered at home during the Great Plague of London in 1666. He was a professor of mathematics at Trinity College, but it was shut down during the Plague. Sound familiar?

Today, this is a widely studied effect that is prevalent in a number of the world’s top industries.

Needless to say, it’s an annoying and unwanted phenomenon, and must be planned for when assembling or manufacturing anything with screens, lenses or frames. Here at Marking Systems, we work with this type of material on a daily basis and therefore have become experts in combating these rings.


Throughout our research and trial and error, we have found three methods that work well in eliminating the effect of Newton rings:

  • Leave an air gap between the product label overlay and the display screen.
  • Optically bond the product label overlay to the display screen — at MSI we typically use adhesive 3M467MPF for this.
  • Print very fine, clear dots on the back of the window in the graphic overlay.

If these options don’t work for your specific application, there are a few less common methods to combat Newton rings that MSI can work with you to provide. Some of these strategies are:

  • Utilizing textured, coated polycarbonates in your application. This specific type of substance is considered to be a combatant for Newton rings.
  • Spreading small silicon balls on the top of a display or screen to perform the same type of effect as the textured polycarbonate.
  • Printing fine clear dots in — similar to bullet point number three above — to remove Newton Rings.

At MSI, our highly trained experts can guide you every step of the way whether you need a solution to Newton rings or are in need of die-cut converting or product label printing services.

Contact us today to get started.