How to Ground ESD-Safe Chairs

by Andy on June 11, 2012

ESD-Safe Chair Grounding is important to most ESD-safe products, as they need to have an outlet for any built-up charges to be neutralized. This can cause a problem for mobile items like ESD-safe chairs, because having a cord plugged into a grounded port would keep your chair tethered to one area. To ensure that ESD-safe chairs do not build-up a charge, two methods are used: conductive casters and drag chains.

ESD-safe casters work by giving a direct line from the body of the chair to the ground. They do rely on having ESD-safe flooring (such as mats, tiles, carpet, conductive paints, dissipative paints, or floor finishes). By utilizing ESD-safe floors and casters, you can have great connection without limiting range of movement at all. Be sure to keep your casters clean; dirt and debris can build-up on the casters creating an insulative layer. This layer can reduce or eliminate the electrical path to ground, causing you to have a floating ground. If this happens then any charges created or introduced to your chair will have nowhere to drain safely and can harm static sensitive items that you are trying to protect.

Drag Chain ESD-safe drag chains can also provide protection, again by connecting the chair to ESD-safe flooring. Some methods of flooring are more effective with drag chains, such as ESD-safe carpet. Because carpet has more surface area with its weave, the drag chain will have greater contact and protection. You do need to be careful with a drag chain so that it won’t get caught on any parts of the flooring. Drag chains also need to be cleaned regularly so they do not build up an insulative layer of dust. If you need extra protection you can get chairs that use both ESD-safe casters and a drag chain.

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Problems caused by static electricity date back hundreds of years. In the 1400s, precautions had to be taken to prevent black powder from igniting and in the 1860s, paper mills grounded equipment to dissipate static electricity. ESD became a big issue several decades ago when electrical devices became faster, smaller and more susceptible to electrostatic discharge.

Here’s part one of a Apple training video from 1987. It appears the goal of the video (which is separated into four parts for YouTube) is to educate Apple employees on how to protect static sensitive devices by shielding devices, grounding themselves and keeping all plastic/synthetic materials away.

The Shocking Truth – Part 2

The Shocking Truth – Part 3

The Shocking Truth – Part 4