Devices and Components
Static electricity is useful but dangerous. It is the energy that makes your hair stand on end. On its own, it is not dangerous. Risks occur when it suddenly discharges causing a spark or lightning.
The spark can set off flammable items or damage electronics.
Humans won’t even feel static electricity unless the discharge – the “static shock” – is at least 3500 volts. And that’s just a quick nuisance to us. Sensitive electronic components can be damaged by an electrostatic discharge as low as 20 volts.
Static build up is a product of contact and separation between two solid surfaces. From the contact, one item loses electrons becoming positively charged. While the other gains electrons, becoming negatively charged.
Dangers of Static Build-Up
First, it damages electronics and especially semiconductors which contain various delicate components.
It can also pose a threat in areas with flammable gases and liquids. Large tank farms are at high risk of explosion. The National Transportation and Safety Board issued guidelines including minimizing static electricity tanks.
The contact and friction generate static energy. A spark discharge can lead to an explosion or damage sensitive components.
This is where anti-static products come into play.
How Static Control Products and Devices Work
Antistatic devices, reduce, dampen, or inhibit the buildup of electrostatic discharge. In other words, they carry electric charge away harmlessly.
Physical Static Control Products
ESD Safe Anti-Static and Static-Shielding Bags
Electrical components in devices get damaged by electrostatic discharge from standard poly bags. Anti-static bags and static-shielding bags are used in the transportation and storage of sensitive gadgets.
Anti-static bags do not generate or hold static electricity. They are ideal for packaging non-sensitive parts (such as nuts and bolts) and introducing or shipping them into static controlled environments.
They do not protect from ESD. You would want to package your electronics with static-shielding ESD Safe bags. When sealed, those multi-layered bags create a Faraday Cage, protecting electronics from ESD inside and outside of the bag.
This means that customers receive working products maintaining goodwill and they prevent losses and expensive returns.
Anti-Static ESD Safe Apparel
if you work around flammable liquids or gases or delicate electrical devices, invest in anti-static clothing. ESD lab coats are the wearable version of the Faraday cage.
Antistatic clothes shield sensitive devices from electrostatic discharge from clothing such as silk.
Clothing, especially those made from synthetic materials, are significant electrostatic charge generators. Worse yet, they also insulate, holding those charges. Meaning you could be walking around with thousands of volts on your sleeves until they neutralize over hours or days.
Worst case scenario, they dissipate as a spontaneous electrostatic discharge. This can damage nearby sensitive components.
Wearing ESD Lab coats will “cage” clothing charges to the inside of the coat. ESD Lab coats also minimize their own generation of electrostatic charges as well as dissipating those charges when grounded.
Humans are the largest source of static electricity in the workplace.
Also known as a grounding mat, it reduces static by having a controlled low resistance. Also, it is grounded by plugging into the grounded line of an electrical outlet.
The low resistance ensures that people produce little to no static energy when walking. They also ground tables and workstations.
ESD Wrist Strap
ESD wrist straps ground a person working on sensitive electronics by preventing the buildup of electrostatic energy. They are the most common personal grounding device. Crucial for sitting personnel – who may lift their feet (and heel grounders) when seated, breaking the connection to ground.
ESD wrist wraps are also excellent for people working around explosives to eliminate the possibility of sparks.
Heel grounders are designed for use on standard shoes. They dissipate electricity from a person by connecting them to a grounded surface. The device contains a conductive ribbon that one wears inside the shoe or sock that makes electrical contact with the person through perspiration.
The grounders should be worn on both feet to maintain the integrity of the connection and that of the device.
With boots, heels, or tennis shoes, you can consider toe grounders. They are non-marring and resistant. They are also comfortable and easy to wear thanks to the hook and loop system.
Avoid the fuss of ribbons and straps associated with heel and toe grounders, and invest in ESD shoes.
These ground operators with no hassle, and are lightweight, durable, and ergonomic.
ESD Gloves and Finger Cots
Sensitive electronic components need protection from ESD and from the natural contaminants found on an operator’s hands.
ESD Gloves, used in conjunction with other anti-static procedures and devices, help minimize the amount of static electricity and particulates in the work environment.
They also provide increased grip for handling small components. And extra protection for handling sharp components.
Anti-static finger cots offer greater dexterity over gloves. They can be used for handling Class II static sensitive devices.
The [not so] shocking Conclusion
Despite its many uses, static electricity can wreck electrostatic-sensitive devices. However, it is easy to control with the right products and procedures. Visit harmonycr.com for the great static control products and devices.