Static Control Tips and Tricks

Anti-Static Mats--How to Protect Your Bottom Line from CatastropheWhen an ESD catastrophe strikes your workplace, the ensuing damage can be—well, catastrophic. But, it can also be latent.  Do you know the difference? And, what can you do to help prevent damage of any kind?

Static is generated when two materials come into contact and are separated, causing electrical particles to be transferred from one object to the other. ESD or an electrostatic discharge takes place when the charged object comes into contact with a conductor, and the static escapes.

What does that mean for your sensitive devices? If they aren’t protected, they could experience either catastrophic damage or latent damage. It’s catastrophic if your components are immediately destroyed and latent if the damage is delayed. Either way can be catastrophic to your bottom line.

So, how do you combat ESD? While you can’t eliminate static generation or discharge, you can neutralize any charges as they occur with a properly grounded anti-static mat that allows the charges to move across its surface slowly.

Anti-static mats come in a variety of styles for the benchtop and the floor—from the laboratory to the cleanroom. Don’t know which kind is best for your environment? All-Spec’s mat selection guides take the guesswork out of the process, so you can escape any and all of ESD’s catastrophes.

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How to Choose an ESD MatPaper or plastic? Vinyl or rubber? Some decisions are fraught with consequences. Choose the wrong type of ESD mat and you can cause catastrophic damage, latent failures and customer complaints. Take a look at the basics of mat selection, so you can circumvent any consequences and find the best mat for your application.

For starters, all mats should meet or exceed the requirements of ANSI ESD-S20.20. Once that’s squared away, you’ll need to consider material, composition and size.

Material

ESD mats are generally available in vinyl or rubber. Vinyl is more widely used for table top or work surface applications. It is easy to cut and is very good at dissipating static. Rubber is used when a high resistance to heat and chemicals is required. If you’re using a constant monitor, make sure it’s compatible with your material.

Composition

Thickness (one, two or three layers), texture and cushioning of the mat will vary depending on your application and the electrical performance needed. Floor mats, for example, are generally thicker than table mats because they need to absorb more wear. A three-layer mat may include a middle, metallized layer that is conductive, improving its electrical properties. ESD mats should be in either the dissipative or conductive range.

Size

ESD matting comes in rolls, or you can buy ready-to-use, pre-cut mats with grounding hardware installed. If you have a large area, multiple areas or plan to expand, you may opt for the rolls. They have a long shelf life, so you can cut pieces as needed.

When choosing an ESD mat, just stick to the basics to dissipate static—and any lurking fears.

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All Fired Up: Ready for the ESD Blame Game?

by Kathy S. on August 17, 2015

All Fired Up--Ready for the ESD Blame GameDo you get charged up easily? Take a deep breath, and consider what that really means for your sensitive components.

Electrostatic discharge, or ESD, is one of the leading causes of device failure. Shocking, we know. But, what does it mean exactly? And, do you know you can blame it on the electrons? Yep. It’s all their fault.

ESD is a single-event, rapid transfer of electrostatic charge between two objects. It usually happens when two objects at different potentials come into direct contact, but it can also happen when a high electrostatic field develops between two objects that are near each other.

When do you get to blame the electrons? Right now. Here’s why: It’s their imbalance on the surface of a material that causes the charge to build up in the first place. The process of electron transfer as a result of two objects coming into contact with each other and then separating is known as “triboelectric charging.” You can build up a triboelectric charge on your body just by walking across the room.

Are you all fired up about the electrons yet? No need to cast blame! Just shop All-Spec for a large selection of the ESD products your workplace needs, so you can properly combat electrostatic discharge and all of its potentially damaging effects.

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5 Steps to Combat Cleanroom Static

by Kathy S. on July 24, 2015

5 Steps to Combat Cleanroom StaticIt’s no secret your low humidity cleanroom is ideal for keeping it clean, but did you know it’s ideal for creating static charge? Wiping down objects before they enter proves staticy, too.

Why should you control ESD in your cleanroom? Static charge causes microcontamination, physical damage and interference with automation systems, all of which can interfere with your bottom line.

Consider budgeting for “unforeseen” issues and follow these five steps to corral your cleanroom static:

  1. Ground electrical conductors wherever possible.
  2. Avoid the use of insulators whenever possible.
  3. Opt for dissipative materials, and remember to ground them.
  4. Use an air ionizer to neutralize static on nonconductors.
  5. Establish a comprehensive ESD control program that includes all of the above.

All-Spec stocks a large selection of personal grounding and ionization equipment for your unique cleanroom environment, so you can quickly and easily implement a program that dissipates static and not your profit.

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How to Select a Shock-Proof Ionizer

by Kathy S. on June 24, 2015

Ionization and ESDIt’s shocking how many ionizers are on the market today. Benchtop, overhead, point-of-use, the list goes on and on. Does your protected area need a system that blankets the entire room? What about a palm-sized unit? Choosing the right equipment to combat ESD damage may not be a simple selection process.

So, how do you know which one is best? Before you blow your mind, the best equipment for you depends on your application, the space available, the performance desired and which features matter to you.

The primary purpose of an ionizer is to neutralize electrostatic charges on insulators and isolated (non-grounded) conductors. Ionization is one of the best methods of removing charges, but it doesn’t eliminate the need for standard ESD control devices, such as wrist straps, heel grounders and work surface mats. Remember, air ionization should be one component of a complete static control program.

As you select your ionizer, consider Desco. Most Desco ionizers use steady-state DC ionization because this type is effective with a modest air flow for sensitive items, soldering operations as well as operator comfort. You’ll also want to make sure your ionizer has a serial number on it, so you can include it in the company’s maintenance and calibration schedules.

All it takes for an ESD-safe environment is a little planning and research on your part, and before you know it you’ll find that initial shock has simply fizzled out.

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