Paper 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.
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.
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.
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.