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.

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