ESD 101: Are You Equipped for Basic Protection?

by Kathy S. on August 24, 2015

ESD 101--Are You Equipped for Basic ProtectionHow do you manage static? First and foremost your workstation must limit electrostatic voltages and ESD (electrostatic discharge) or it’s not doing its job. Begin by grounding all work surfaces, people and equipment to the same electrical ground point or “common point ground.”

You can take a variety of precautions to limit risk to sensitive devices, but depending on your situation, they may not all be necessary. For example, what about your personnel? Are they stationary or mobile? What’s mandatory or suggested for one may be optional for the other.

As you design your unique ESD workstation, you’ll need to weigh the relevant factors; however, the following list of equipment is common and generally standard for basic ESD protection:

  • Table Mat
  • Floor Mat and Ground Cord
  • Wrist Band and Coil Cord Set
  • Heel Grounders
  • Constant Monitors
  • ESD Jackets
  • ESD Equipment Testers
  • Air Ionizers

How does your ESD protection program measure up? If it’s getting a mediocre or failing grade, don’t worry; you don’t have to go back to school. The ESD Association can help you implement standards into your day-to-day operations.

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How Often Should You Test Your Wrist Strap SystemWhen do you measure your wrist strap’s resistance? At the beginning of your shift?  What about re-testing after breaks or before you’re allowed to enter the ESD Protected Area (EPA)?

Your company probably has established protocols in place for wrist strap testing, but at some point while handling ESD sensitive devices, your wrist strap system will fail.

And, when this happens it’s always hard to determine exactly when the failure took place and how much product is at risk. If you’re resistant to continuous monitoring systems, here are a few reasons why you should consider integrating them into your daily operations:

  • When there’s a problem, constant monitors notify operators immediately, so no product is handled until the problem is resolved.
  • They eliminate the possibility of a functional wrist strap but a defective ground attachment because the systems monitor the wrist straps on the premises.
  • You won’t need to record and store test results anymore.
  • Some systems also monitor the connection from the work surface to ground.

You are also likely to see long-term cost savings from constant monitoring due to lower rejection rates of devices. So, all in all, today’s wrist strap monitoring doesn’t have to be a constant struggle.

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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.


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.

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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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Who's the Biggest Troublemaker in Your ESD-Protected AreaPlastics. They seem so unassuming, but did you know they’re the most likely to wreak havoc on your sensitive components? For ESD purposes, materials are classified by their resistance to the movement of electricity.

Plastics and other synthetic materials are insulators. They trap electric charges on their surfaces, cannot easily transfer charges and aren’t easily grounded.

Metals, carbon and people, on the other hand, are conductors. Their charges are easily transferred with the right equipment. All-Spec carries a wide selection of personal grounding supplies from major brands to keep your workplace ESD-safe.

As for that pesky, plastic insulator? It’s definitely a bum rap! With more than 100 different types of air ionizers, All-Spec stocks what you need to rid your protected areas of the damage caused by these culprits for good.

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