ESD-Safe Symbol In order to distinguish the differences between these five terms, you need to know what each one means.

ESD (as defined in the previous post) is an acronym for electrostatic discharge. Many times it is used incorrectly as a term for something that is “electrostatic discharge safe.”

The terms anti-static, conductive, and dissipative are all terms that subdivide ESD into more detail. Something insulative is not considered ESD safe.

Materials are divided into these terms based on their individual surface resistance. Surface resistance is a measurement of how easily an electric charge can travel across a medium. Conductive materials are materials that have a surface resistance of less than 1 x 10 5 ohms/square. Dissipative items have a surface resistance of more than 1 x 10 5 ohms/square but less than 1 x10 11 ohms/square.

Anti-static materials are generally referred to as any material which inhibits triboelectric charging. This kind of charging is the buildup of an electric charge by the rubbing or contact with another material. An insulative material is one that has a surface resistance of greater than 1 x 10 12 ohms/square.

For more ESD products and ESD information, visit the All-Spec website or the Electrostatic Discharge Association website.

Interested in the learning more about the basics of ESD?


How to choose an ionizer

by Andy on July 6, 2007

There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing an ionizer.  First start by deciding which style of ionizer will work best for you.  This includes overhead ionizers, desktop ionizers, and gun type ionizers.  Then decide on whether or not you would like DC or AC ionization.  Each of these choices will narrow your selection from the many available types of ionizers.

Each style of ionizer has its advantages and disadvantages.  Overhead ionizers, like the Aerostat Guardian Overhead Ionizer (4004063), are generally the most expensive;  however, they save desk space by being hung from above and provide continual ionization over an are3M 960 Mini Ionized Air Blowera.  Desktop ionizers, like the 3M 960 Mini Benchtop Ionizer (to the right), are generally the least expensive and still provide continual  ionization over an area; however  they take away from the desktop space by sitting on the work surface.  The third style is the gun type ionizers, like the Simco Top Gun (4005105) below. These are used mainly for pinpoint control of the ionized air flow, and are not used when trying to cover an entire area with ionized air.  They work really well as a “blow-off” gun to get rid of dust or other contaminants without using normal shop air which can introduce a charge.  The negatives are that they normally require the use of an air compressor which is noisy and fairly expensive. It also doesn’t cover the entire work surface, and without the additional “hands free kits,” you would need to hold it in order to use it.

Hand Held Air Ionizer The difference between DC and AC ionization is the way the emitter points function.  In AC, like the Simco Aerostat models, the same emitter point alternates between releasing positive and negative ions.  This means they inherently have a voltage balance.  This is because if an emitter gets dirty and isn’t functioning, the other emitters are still alternating between positive and negative ions.  This also means that the ions are closer together which makes it more likely for them to recombine. This means normally higher fan speeds are needed to reduce the time between the fan and the surface that needs to be ionized.  DC ionizers, like the 3M TM960, have separate emitters for positive and negative ions.  This means that it’s a little more difficult to ensure a low voltage balance and if one emitter stops working, it throws the unit out of balance.  These types of units require a lot more consistent maintenance/monitoring to ensure a good voltage balance.  The benefits are that the emitters are separate so there is less of a chance of recombination of the ions.  This allows the DC units to operate at a lower fan speed which is very beneficial when your components are small or you are in a clean room.

Check out our selection of ionizers at All-Spec’s website.

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Weller WFE 2ES Review

by Andy on July 5, 2007

Soldering, adhesives and laser work are at many times present in an engineeering environment. The fumes and pollution in these work areas usually exceed the safety threshold and put workers at risk. The new WFE 2ES Weller Volume Extraction System is designed to filter 99.5% of these pollutants and help maintain a safe working environment.Weller Zero-Smog

Here are a few key features of the WFE & 2ES:

    • F5-class fine dust filter
    • Puratex compact H12 filter
    • Brushless and maintenance-free turbine
    • Low noise emission
    • Wide range of accessories

In addition to these features, the WFE 2ES needs no on-site  installation by a professional adding to the effeciency of this system.

To check out the Weller WFE 2ES, visit All-Spec’s website.

Want a visual on how the WFE 2ES works? Check out the video below.


What is air ionization?

by Andy on June 26, 2007

Air ionization can be an important solution to dealing with electrostatic discharge (ESD) because of the damage that ESD can cause when air is not ionized in a working environment.

Problems that can occur include:

  • Products, process tools, or components being damaged due to a direct ESD event.
  • Surface contamination due to electrostatic attraction of particles (ESA).
  • Latch-up of process equipment because of ESD and resulting in electromagnetic interference (EMI).

Air Ionizer Some manufacturing processes use non-conductive materials and isolated conductors. These processes then generate and carry large charge potentials, which can negatively affect production of certain types of equipment. Ionizers prevent the accumulation of static charge on any object that cannot be grounded. This static charge needs to be removed quickly because it will likely cause an ESD event.

The main method to stop these ESD events is using wrist straps, ground straps, and conductive footwear to ground the user and equipment. However, in some cases, these methods are impractical and air ionization then becomes the best option.

All air ionization methods do the same thing: they move electrons between gas molecules. Without getting into too much scientific detail, ionizers can decrease tool repair costs and increase equipment uptime by 50%. They also protect ESD sensitive equipment, control particle contamination, and reduce process equipment lock-up. This is done by introducing ionized particles to neutralize the charges that are already built up.

See our article on how to choose the right ionizer or visit All-Spec’s website for our selection of all types of ionizers.


WES51 vs WESD51

by Andy on June 12, 2007

In order to fully understand the differences between the WES51 and the WESD51 (anWeller WES51 Soldering Stationd their advantages and disadvantages), you first need to know some of the similarities they share.

The WES51 and the WESD51 are both soldering stations that include a power unit, a PES51 soldering pencil with an ETA solder tip, a PH50 stand, and a sponge. They are both designed for continuous production soldering and can display both Fahrenheit and Celsius readings. Their innovative heaters and sensor combinations allow for quick heat-up and fast temperature recovery. In addition, outside operators are prevented from adjusting the temperature to levels higher than necessary by wireless temperature lockout. This gives you complete control over the soldering process. Both are UL and cUL listed as well as ESD safe.

Although the WEWeller WESD51 Soldering StationS51 and WESD51 have only a few differences, they are relevant enough to push some users to one or the other. The WES51 uses only analog adjustments for temperature settings, while the WESD51 uses digital temperature readout. With the digital LED display on the WESD51 you can read both the set temperature and the actual tip temperature. This allows the user to not only accurately set the temperature, but check the temperature of the soldering pencil at any time allowing for more precision and process control. The digital screen can also be more easily read than the dial setting on the analog WES51.

The Weller WES51 and the WESD51 are both available on All-Spec’s website!