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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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Static Control

Static Control Products and Devices

Protecting Your
Electrostatic-Sensitive
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

Open End 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

Cleanroom ESD Lab Coats, Knit Cuff, White
Cleanroom ESD Lab Coats, Knit Cuff, White

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.

Anti-Static Mat


Anti-Static Table Mat

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

Estatec ESD Elastic Band Wrist Strap, 4mm Snap

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

Heel Grounder with 1Meg Resister

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.

Toe Grounders

Toe Grounder with 1Meg Resister

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.

ESD Shoes


Cleanroom ESD Shoe with 2Meg Resister, Black

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


Static Dissipative Ultra-Thin Polyurethane Coated Glove

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.

Categories
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.

Categories
Cleanroom Swabs Tips

Swabs & Applicators 101

What are Swabs & Applicators?

If you’ve used a Q-Tip, you already know what a swab basically is. However, there are many more uses and variations of Swabs & Applicators (AKA single-use applicators). Learn about swab tips and shaft materials, and their uses.

In general a swab is:

A small piece of absorbent material attached to the end of a stick/shaft or wire, and used for cleaning a surface, applying medicine/chemicals, or collecting a sample of a substance.

Uses for Swabs

Common uses for swabs and applicators include: cleaning hard to reach areas, applying solvents/chemicals, wound cleaning, applying medicine, collecting samples.

Single-use swabs are widely used in healthcare, diagnostic, forensic, controlled environments (cleanrooms), food safety, and drug manufacturing industries.

Swab Tip Materials

Swabs tips come in many different materials. Here are some of the most common swab tip materials.

Cotton Tip Swabs

Our cotton tip swabs are made with top pharmaceutical grade spun cotton fiber. Cotton fiber swabs are absorbent, soft, low cost, and safe for many applications. If you require low-lint for your application, cotton swabs are available in low-lint options or standard.

Whether you require 3 inch cotton swabs, 6 inch cotton swabs, or double tip cotton swabs (twice the bang for your buck!) we are sure to have the cotton swab you need.

Polyester Tip Swabs

Polyester is a synthetic fiber. Polyester tip swabs are non-absorbent. Polyester swabs also contain no fatty acids or latent sugars. This is important in the collection of specimens for testing.

Polyester swabs are a good medium for cell collection, screenings, and testing. Ideal for use in microbiology, rapid test diagnostics, and industrial surface testing.

Foam Tip Swabs

Foam swabs are made of soft, non-abrasive polyurethane foam. Foam swabs are lint and residue free. They won’t leave anything behind. Foam swabs are also shred-resistant and perfect for cleaning applications.

The foam tips are thermally bonded to the shaft, so there is no glue or bonding agents in the swab that could contaminate your environment. Foam swabs are soft enough for delicate cleaning but not too soft that they bend or fold.

Rayon Tip Swabs

Rayon is a semisynthetic fiber material made from cellulose. Rayon swabs are soft, highly absorbent and ideal for applications where cotton wouldn’t be suitable.

Rayon is low-linting. Rayon swabs are widely used in specimen collection, testing, and screening.

Flocked Tip Swabs

Flocked swabs have a unique tip structure and construction. Flocked tip swabs are comprised of multi-length fibers arranged around the applicator handle. This brush-like structure assures ultra-clean tips and reliable performance.

Unlike traditional wound fiber swabs, flocked swabs have no internal core to absorb and trap collected specimens. Flocked swabs have superior collection and release characteristics which make them ideal for specimen collection and testing purposes.

The process starts with producing the swab fiber, composed of a unique porous microchannel “fiber-within-fiber” design structure. The swab fiber is then applied to tips to produce a versatile, high-performance brush-like swab without an inner fabric or core to collect specimens. Further proprietary manufacturing processes result in multi-length, “split-end” fibers that create a greater overall surface area and tension for more rapid elution and maximal sample preservation. Scientific studies have confirmed Puritan flocked swabs provide the most efficient collection and elution on the market.

Microfiber Tip Swabs

Microfiber swabs are highly resistant to normal cleaning solvents, which make them perfect for removing contaminants and excess materials.

Microfiber tip swabs are soft, non-abrasive (wont scratch delicate surfaces!), and has excellent wipe/dry characteristics lending itself to cleaning applications.

Swab Shaft Materials

Depending your application, there are different types of swab shaft materials you should use.

Wood Shaft Swabs

Economical and rigid, these shafts do the job for many applications.  The down side?  Wood is a natural material with variations in moisture content and fracturing is possible.

Wood dust from these shafts is minimal, but in areas where particulates is a problem, wood should not be used.

Paper Shaft Swabs

Non-linting and non-conductive, these clean, white shafts are good for use in controlled environments.

Semi-rigid, they will not fracture in use, but if bent will not return to the original shape.  Paper shaft swabs cannot be sterilized by autoclaving.

Polypropylene Shaft Swabs

Very clean and non-absorbent with no particulate to shed.

Can be rigid or semi-flexible and resistant to breakage.  This plastic material will stand up to many chemicals.  Autoclaving to 250 degrees F is OK.

Polystyrene Shaft Swabs

Economical plastic shafts can be hollow or solid. Also very clean and non-absorbent, non-dusting.

Depending on the composition can fracture as needed, or be flexible for use in tight spaces.  Suitable for use with IPA. More rigid than polypropylene. This material is suited for applicators with scored break points, providing a clean break.      

Aluminum Shaft Swabs

Slender and flexible but once bent will retain the angle for precise cleaning.

Clean with no particulates, but conductive.  For medical applications, slender dimension is desirable.

Additional Types of Swabs

Anti-Static & ESD Swabs

ESD swabs have anti-static properties that make them safe for working with static-sensitive components. Anti-Static & ESD-Safe Swabs are ideal for precision cleaning, sampling, validation, and more.

ESD swabs have special antistatic handles that make them ideal for use in cleanrooms and other static-sensitive environments. We offer ESD/Anti-Static swabs that are foam tipped, polyester tipped, cotton tipped, and nonwoven tipped with anti-static attributes.

Transport Swabs

There are primarily two types of transport swabs. Dry transport swabs consist of a dry swab and transport tube or cap. Media Transport Swabs are a vial of transport medium liquid and dry swab. This “wet” transport swab keeps collected specimens suspended in a liquid medium for testing.

Both Dry Transport and Media Transport Swabs are used for collection and/or transportation of a wide range of specimens (including: bacteria, viruses, microorganisms, trace evidence, DNA, and more). The transport tube/vial contains the specimen and provides safe and stable transport.

Environmental Surface Testing Swabs

Environmental Sampling and Surface Testing swabs are used for industries in food, pharmaceutical, and cosmetics. Surface Testing Swabs are designed for sample collection and validation of hard to reach areas. Surface testing swabs are used to test for contamination and chemicals on surfaces.

Environmental Sampling Kits consist of a polyester tipped swab and polypropylene vial for transport with broth/solution/buffer liquid.

Medical/Sterile Swabs

Sterile/Medical Swabs have a wide range of uses. Our sterile medical swabs are offered in Rayon and Cotton, available in a variety of head shapes. Handle options include wood, plastic and biodegradable paper.

Sterile Swabs are wrapped and always fresh. Ideal for medical applications such as wound care, surgery, diagnostic testing, DNA testing, Gynecological OB/GYN screening, and more.

Wood Applicators

Wood Applicators include applicator sticks, cuticle/orange sticks, and wood medical spoons. Disposable wooden applicators are often used for specimen transfer, as mixing rods, in laboratory work, and other general purpose applications.

Our wood applicators are made with straight-cut splinter-free ends. Wood Applicator Sticks come with different bevels, points, or straight edges depending on your use need. Wood applicator sticks are biodegradable and available sterile or non-sterile.

Critical Environment (Cleanroom) Swabs

You can’t use any old swab in a Cleanroom. Critical Environment Swabs are precision manufactured, ensuring the swabs eliminate contamination and provide consistent cleanliness. Critical Environment Swabs are available in materials such as cotton, microfiber, knitted polyester, and anti-static/ESD.

Cleanroom Swabs are designed for effectively cleaning small surfaces in controlled environments and other critical environment applications. Cleanroom swabs are widely used in industries such as healthcare, diagnostics, fiber optics, electronics, semiconductors, and more.

 

When it comes to swabs and applicators, there are a lot of variations to consider depending on your usage case. With so many options we know it can get a little overwhelming. But don’t worry! We’re here to help.

If you’re not sure exactly what you need, we are available to help via Phone, Chat, or Email. Feel free to contact us if you have any questions selecting the right swab for you and your application.