ESD News Archives

Latex Gloves – Are You Allergic?


Many industrial manufacturing environments require workers to wear protective gloves, including during electronics and medical device production and assembly. Latex gloves not only protect workers from harmful chemicals but also protect products from worker contact and contamination during manufacturing Read more

ST 925 SMT Rework System–Three favorites combined into one nice savings


Save a few steps--and some money--with the Pace 925 SMT Rework System Pace has introduced a new low-cost “combination” system ideal for surface mount technology (SMT) rework. It’s worth adding up the savings by comparing the a la carte prices Read more

Metcal’s CV-5200 Connection Validation Soldering Station Changes Everything


You may or may not have heard about Metcal’s new soldering station, the CV-5200. The evolutionary tool removes much of the reliance on visual inspection of hand-soldered joints and adds a second, more technology-driven method for validating a successful Read more

Creating an ESD-Safe Workstation

Posted on by Andy in ESD News Leave a comment

If you’re working in an environment where ESD (electrostatic discharge) is something you absolutely must avoid, it’s very important to have a proper ESD Safe workstation.  Knowing exactly what ESD is and having the right tools can make all the difference in protecting your sensitive electronic components.

So, what is ESD? Electrostatic discharge is simply the static that builds up in your body which is then discharged when you touch something conductive.

Technically it’s the equalization of the difference in electrical potential of two objects.

That “shock” you feel when you walk across the carpet and touch your dog, is a great example of ESD.  It’s especially worse during this time of year when the air is dryer, seems everything you touch shocks you.

That tiny little shock costs the electronics industry millions every year.  It is estimated that 60% of all electronic device failures are due to static buildup and/or discharge.

Integrated circuits used to make circuit boards can be damaged by anywhere between 100 and 1,000 volts.  The amount of static you buildup just by walking over carpet can be as high as 35,000 volts!

What to do? One of the most common ways to combat ESD is through the use of dissipative or conductive mats, sometimes referred to as ESD mats.  These are made with materials that whisk away static from anything that touches it, much like a sponge soaks up a spill, and will typically carry the charge off the mat and through a ground wire.

Your workstation should, at the very least, include a floor mat and a table mat.  They typically come in one to three layers.  A dissipative rubber, vinyl, or industrial elastomer top layer and conductive middle layer are what you will commonly find in most ESD mats.  Sometimes a third dissipative bottom layer will be found that will also feature a non skid surface.

Check to make sure your mats come with a good ground cord and grounding system as well.

An ESD wrist strap is also part of an ESD Safe workstation.  This is a simple two-part device that connects a person’s skin to a ground.  This is useful as an added measure as this device constantly dissipates any charge further preventing any discharge.

A very useful tool in an ESD Safe workstation is the Static Monitor.  These devices constantly monitor the connection and static levels of the person assuring a static free workspace.

If you do a lot of walking or standing you may look into heel straps or grounds that use the moisture in your shoe as a connection to the body and a conductive rubber tread as a connection to an ESD mat or floor.

Add an ESD awareness sign and you’ve got a complete ESD Safe Workstation!


Types of ESD Damage

Posted on by Andy in ESD News Leave a comment

ESD Damage Sign All ESD damage is not created equal. In fact, there are three different types of ESD damage and they can be classified as a catastrophic failure, a latent defect or an upset failure.

As you would imagine, catastrophic failure is the easiest of the three to detect. This type of ESD damage causes some sort of permanent damage such as an oxide failure or a metal melt. The damage done is irreversible. Any device with catastrophic damage is usually found during the testing process and can be dealt with before shipping out.

Latent defects are a little more difficult to spot. This type of damage would allow a device to work properly for the most part, but over time the small amount of damage might affect the life of the device or its ability to function. The issue with latent defects is that the item usually passes testing and is sent to the customer where it may fail.

Lastly, an upset failure is when ESD damages a device or component but not enough to cause complete failure. But while in use, the component may intermittently result in gate failure and cause problems with software and data storage. Just like latent defects, upset failures will pass testing but may have issues in the future.

Damage from electrostatic discharge can happen to components and devices at any stage during its life, including the manufacturing process when the component is being handled or moved, after final inspection and even when it’s in the customer’s possession. It’s important to remember that even though it can’t be seen or felt, ESD damage to electronics can be costly when it comes to both money and reputation.


Common Sources of ESD

Posted on by Andy in ESD News Leave a comment

If you are reading this, you probably have an idea of what ESD is. But do you know the common sources for ESD? There are three: human body ESD, machine ESD and charge device ESD.

I would imagine that human body ESD is thought of the most when the term ESD is mentioned, and rightfully so because humans probably cause the most ESD damage. Human body ESD is when a human transfers the electrostatic discharge to a part that is static sensitive. Some of the most damaging human errors include ungrounded employees walking around with static sensitive items such as PCBs, employees not wearing appropriate gloves or finger cots and employees walking around with ESD sensitive parts in open bags, bins, totes, etc… Human body ESD can be avoided with the use of a heel/sole ground or wrist strap; both are relatively inexpensive.

Machine ESD is the second cause of ESD damage. This source of damage is caused when an ungrounded part (conductive or dissipative) such as a machine or tool comes in contact with an ESD sensitive part. The solution to this problem is to simply ground the machine part, tools, etc…

The final source is charged device ESD. This type of ESD takes place when a part or device develops a charge and then comes in contact with a conductive item. Once the two parts touch there is a fast discharge which ultimately damages the ESD sensitive part. Ionizers are useful in this situation as they neutralize new charges and prevent build up of charges. Reducing movement of a part within the facility and having one common ground also helps combat charged device ESD.

Other things to keep in mind when protecting your ESD sensitive parts:

  • Make sure your ESD bags and containers are not too old. Many materials lose their ESD protection over time.
  • Have an ionizer? Make sure both emitters are working and make sure there is an equal balance of positive and negative ions.
  • Store ESD sensitive parts in the appropriate containers. I know it seems like common sense but it’s important.

ESD Flooring to Get You Excited

Posted on by Andy in ESD News, New Products Leave a comment

Sierra ESD-Safe Flooring If you’re in the market for ESD flooring that is attractive and effective, then Sierra vinyl ESD floor tiles and carpet ESD floor tiles may be the perfect solution.

Sierra ESD vinyl floor tiles offer permanent ESD properties and a durable hard surface which is indentation, abrasion and chemical resistant. The tiles feature electrical resistance of Surface to Ground: 2.5 x 104 and Surface to Surface: 2.5 X 104 – 106

Sierra ESD carpet floor tiles offer a continuous surface of conductivity. Carpet tiles are thought to provide the most ergonomic advantages of available flooring, and these tiles are no different. For that reason, the carpet tiles are perfect for ESD-sensitive areas where static control footwear might not be worn such as government or civilian areas.

Not convinced? Here are 10 reasons why you should use Sierra ESD carpet and ESD vinyl floor tiles in your work area:

1. Easy to maintain – the tiles never need spraying, waxing or any other application

2. Versatile – both the carpet tiles and vinyl tiles can be placed over existing floors as long as it’s not carpet

3. Saves you money – the 24” x 24” tiles reduce waste and the tiles can easily be removed and replaced if one gets damaged

4. Meets industry standards – the vinyl tiles meet all of the requirements of ANSI/ESD S.20.20 and conforms to the requirement of NFPA 99 Standard for Health Care Facilities. The carpet tiles are recyclable with a Green Label Plus certification and meet the requirements for class zero ESD environments

5. Durable – the carpet tiles passed a roller caster test, after 100,000 chair caster cycles, there was no change in conductivity and as I said earlier, the vinyl tiles are indentation and abrasion resistant

6. Options for color and patterns – both the carpet and vinyl tiles come in several different patterns and colors, this allows you to customize your work area

7. ESD vinyl tiles integrate well with ESD carpet tiles and vice versa

8. Suitable for many work environments – the carpet and/or vinyl tiles can be used in government areas, electronics manufacturing, hospitals, emergency rooms, operating rooms, surface mount and wave solder areas, magnetic resonance imaging suites, cleanrooms, data centers, IT/telecommunications, access floor environments, biotech manufacturing plants and many more

9. One year limited warranty for defects in material and workmanship

10. Attractive – both the carpet and vinyl tiles give any room a clean appearance


Getting the Upper Hand on ESD Gloves

Posted on by Andy in ESD News, Product Reviews Leave a comment

ESD-Safe GL679 Nitrile GlovesThere are a plethora of ESD-safe products on the market, but ESD-safe gloves are one of the most efficient products available.

Workers usually wear gloves to protect the electronic items they are building from ESD but the gloves also serve as a barrier to protect the products from finger prints and scratches.

There are several types of ESD-safe gloves that are commonly used including nitrile gloves, vinyl gloves, latex gloves and fabric gloves.

Nitrile gloves are made from synthetic latex which is a great option for workers who are allergic to latex, plus they are inherently anti-static.  Nitrile gloves are also much more puncture resistant than rubber gloves and offer resistance to many types of solvents and chemicals. These gloves are usually more expensive than latex or vinyl gloves.

Vinyl gloves are another option for latex-sensitive workers. Vinyl gloves usually fit baggier than latex gloves, but the material is very soft. These gloves are less durable and less puncture resistant than nitrile and latex gloves.

Latex gloves are the gloves most people think of when rubber gloves are mentioned. These gloves are affordable, fit well, durable and very elastic. The major disadvantage with latex gloves is that they cannot be worn by workers with a latex allergy.

There are many variations when it comes to fabric gloves. Some hot gloves are used when handling “hot” circuit boards; the gloves dispel ESD while providing comfort for the worker. Some fabric gloves have a non-slip material on the palm and fingers for superior handling. Nylon gloves are another option. These gloves can be found in stretch, low-lint and lint-free varieties. Fabric gloves are also reusable and many times they can be washed without losing their anti-static properties. The reusable quality of fabric gloves makes them cost-effective compared to disposable gloves.

Finger cots are another option for ESD protection. They come in a variety of materials and provide ESD protection with more mobility than gloves.

Your company’s process requirements are the first place to check when shopping for gloves, because some work places do have glove requirements.