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Cleanroom Conductive Strip ESD Shoe Covers Electronics Cleaning Wipes ESD Matting ESD Safe Apparel ESD Safe Gloves & Finger Cots ESD Safe Swabs ESD Safe Wipes ESD/Anti-Static Swabs Personal Grounding Static Control Tips

Are You Safe from ESD?

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is an abrupt electrical flow between two electrically charged objects caused by contact between the objects. Lightning exemplifies the concept of ESD. On a smaller scale, the human body is able to carry a charge and cause ESD when touching another charged object.

What is ESD Safe?

ESD Safe matting, apparel, gloves, swabs, wipes, and other supplies help ensure your environment is safe from electrostatic discharges (ESD) as much as possible. Very small discharges from static electricity can cause irreparable damage to sensitive components and electronics.

Even tables can carry a charge, causing contaminants to stick to them. Besides airborne particles attaching to surfaces, ESD from humans can damage electronics and semiconductors and can cause electrical failure.

ESD Safe products are designed to be non-conductive or to  “cage” and dissipate harmful electrostatic discharges.

To prevent damage in a manufacturing or lab setting, workers wear ESD gloves.

Why do you need ESD Gloves?

ESD Gloves Do 3 Things:

  1. Prevent static generation
  2. Dissipate or Shield electrostatic charges
  3. Protects material from particulate contamination

ESD Gloves, no matter the material, control electrical flows around the material. Instead of a quick burst of lightning, the ESD gloves provide a way for the electric charge to dissipate slowly without damage to electronics. 

Manufacturing electronics without ESD Gloves may not cause any immediate or noticeable damage. Humans only notice ESD greater than 3500 volts; however, an ESD of as little as 20 volts can cause electronic damage.

Electronics that have undergone an electrostatic discharge onto them may experience equipment failure months later. Therefore, to manufacture the highest quality products, ESD Gloves are needed for employees that interact with delicate equipment susceptible to damage from ESD and skin contaminants. 

Which ESD Glove Material is best?

Nitrile is the industry standard for ESD gloves. Found in Biotech, Electronic, and Pharmaceutical manufacturing, nitrile gloves are the industry workhorse. The material is naturally anti-static, puncture resistant, chemical-resistant, and durable, making nitrile the best choice for cleanroom applications.

Workers find nitrile gloves to be more comfortable than other materials because of its “memory” that molds well to the individual’s hand.

Nitrile, unlike latex, continues to be comfortable throughout a shift. Whenever a worker needs hand protection, it is best to choose nitrile as it provides the best barrier protection against cuts and chemicals.

Without sufficient protection, chemicals can seep into the skin and cause contamination, making nitrile gloves the best choice for applications involving chemicals.

However, nitrile is not compatible with aromatic solvents and ketones commonly found in paints and adhesives. For applications involving aromatic solvents, multiple types of glove material must be provided to maximize safety.

Nylon is used frequently in electronic manufacturing and handling because of nylon’s dexterity. Nylon is not suitable for cleanroom environments “due to their very high non-volatile residue values”.

A Higher NVR values correlates to a lower surface resistance, which decreases ESD strength in high humidity environments. The material, generally coated with a polyurethane-coat, reduces static while increasing grip.

The polyurethane coating is non-porous, preventing skin contaminants and oils from seeping onto equipment. It allows workers to maximize precision and dexterity by retaining touch-sensitivity and by increasing grip without feeling “sticky”.

Workers won’t have to worry about their glove sticking to any material. The polyurethane-coat provides additional puncture resistance and prevents against the glove shedding its material in high volume applications. Additionally, nylon gloves are compatible with all touchscreen devices.

Latex is the most common material for gloves. Normal Latex gloves generate static, so for cleanroom environments latex gloves include an anti-static additive to prevent ESD.

Latex, even with the additive, is the most affordable choice for ESD gloves. However, ESD Latex gloves have the same downsides as any latex glove.

Some employees will be allergic to the material and others will find it uncomfortable for extended periods of time. Latex gloves also have a shorter shelf life than Nitrile. When working with sharp materials, Latex does not have the puncture resistance as Nitrile or Nylon.

In general, Nitrile is the most comfortable, durable, and puncture resistant material for ESD gloves.

ESD Gloves May Not Be Enough

When working with delicate electronic components susceptible to damage from human contamination, ESD gloves are necessary.

However, other static control procedures and devices will provide protection beyond a single employee’s hands. To minimize static electricity and damaging particulates, there are also ESD shoes, mats, and wrist straps to fully ground employees entering sensitive environments.

When working with sensitive equipment, ESD swabs protect from static damage. No matter your environment, ESD is controllable and damage is easy to minimize with the proper products.

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Cleanroom Conductive Strip ESD Shoe Covers ESD/Anti-Static Swabs Swabs Tips

ESD Swabs in Sensitive Environments

Combat ESD in Sensitive Environments with the Right Swabs

Controlling electrostatic discharge (ESD) is an important aspect of ensuring the quality of electrical components throughout manufacturing processes. By nature, some electronics are more sensitive to static than others, which is why many manufacturing plants have special environments like cleanrooms for keeping static at the lowest possible levels. While it’s equally important to protect electronics against ESD after manufacturing, such as throughout transport and device assembly procedures, controlling the levels in critical manufacturing environments is the first step to keeping your components intact.

The Risks of ESD

While there are many different types of electronics prone to damage from static exposure, hardware is particularly fragile. Network hardware devices, for instance, can become compromised by being exposed to as little as 100 volts of electricity. The damage is permanent and irreversible, thus rendering your equipment unusable and worthless.

Just how much electricity does it take to produce 100 volts? Put it this way: walking across a carpet can create as many as 35,000 volts. Imagine how many volts could be produced on a daily basis with countless employees moving about in your organization! Thus, minimizing ESD in your critical environments through all means possible is essential to preserving the quality of your components.

Of course, there are other types of electronics which could become damaged by ESD during manufacturing, too. The problem lies in the fact that damage isn’t always noticeable until later, during subsequent testing stages. Therefore, the amount of time and money wasted throughout various in production phases can be significant when components become damaged as a result of ESD. Moreover, the consequences of failed electronics can be devastating depending on the application. While damaged network hardware could cripple your company headquarters’ communications for a day or so, a failed airplane component could have a much more serious, and potentially even deadly, impact.

Ways to Prevent ESD

To keep ESD at the lowest possible levels, you likely have an Electrostatic Discharge Protected Area (EPA) somewhere within your manufacturing plant which could range from a basic work station to a full-blown work space. Within this area, all conductive materials should be grounded to prevent transfer of ESD – this includes humans, too. Your printed circuit boards will also have ground planes to give current a return path.

There are a broad range of tactics you can use to prevent ESD levels within your electronic assembly environment. From anti-static mats to ESD strip shoe covers and conducting wrist straps, organizations use a variety of tools to keep static out of critical work areas. Many organizations must also adhere to specific air quality requirements to prevent humidity levels from dipping too low (or conversely, climbing too high), which can also lead to ESD. Keeping components in anti-static containers until the moment they’re ready to be installed is another way to prevent static. Finally, one less-thought of – yet equally important – way you can control ESD is through choosing the proper type of swabs.

Anti-Static Swabs

Puritan ESD Swab 1621-PF ESD
Puritan ESD Swab 1621-PF ESD

Swabs are used throughout electronic assembly for a number of different purposes. Your employees might use them to apply adhesives, or cleaning small, hard-to-reach places. They also come in handy for surface sampling and validation procedures in cleanroom environments.

If your employees use swabs during any stage of the workflow while handling electronics, it’s advisable to provide them with anti-static swabs to further eliminate ESD. Anti-static swabs have all of the benefits of traditional swabs, allowing you to clean fragile machinery and small components, but do not carry the risk of transmitting static to your electronics.

These swabs are unique in the fact that they feature special shaft materials which are inherently static-free. For instance, many of these swabs’ shafts contain carbon, which is known to eradicate any static buildup. Common shaft materials for anti-static swabs are static dissipative polypropylene and wood (wood swabs are generally not safe for cleanrooms but could still be used in Electrostatic Discharge Protected Areas or elsewhere.

Likewise, the tips are also constructed using materials designed specifically to deter and minimize static discharge. You can choose among ESD microfiber swabs, which are non-linting and safe for use in EPAs, or static dissipative foam swabs. There are also knitted polyester tipped swabs and ESD foam-tipped swabs  with anti-static attributes available to meet each environment’s unique needs.

No matter your specific needs, Harmony Lab & Safety Supplies has the right anti-static swab for you. By choosing swabs designed to keep ESD at bay, you can reduce the risk of compromising your sensitive products and potentially costing your organization countless dollars and time in damages. To browse through our vast array of anti-static swabs and other products created for sensitive cleanroom environments, take a look at our website. Still not sure which swabs are the right choice for your needs? Feel free to get in touch with one of our knowledgeable product specialists for help.