Saturday, September 23, 2023

The Right Mix of ESD Safety Tools for Your Environment

In this article, we focus on solutions that could help you control ESD and create a static-safe work area. -- Abhishek A Mutha

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Magnifying lamps provide full protection against ESD. The complete lamp (head, lens, joint and arm) is grounded and has special static-dissipative materials to smoothly take away static charges in a controlled manner, preventing any build up of static electricity, which gives complete protection against ESD.

Ionisers. In order to reduce potential damage that could be caused by ESD, ionisers are another extensively used equipment. Ionisers are most commonly used by manufacturers of electronic and surface-mount devices (SMDs) as well as printed circuit board (PCB) industries.


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Sometimes, static-control products such as ESD flooring, mats and wrist straps are unable to completely eliminate static charges. An ioniser removes static charges from surfaces, thereby providing additional protection. Depending on the application usage and industry, new-age ionisers are available in benchtop, gun, nozzle, bar and overhead box form factors.

Anti-static wristbands. ESD wrist straps or wristbands allow the personnel doing assembly, maintenance or repair work to work without being concerned about static electricity. Fitted around the wrist, as the name suggests, these are usually fully-adjustable and dissipate potential harmful charges to the ground, thereby allowing personnel to handle ESD-sensitive devices safely.

Today’s wrist straps are available with and without cords. Wired wrist straps are usually about 1.5m to 2.4m (5-feet to 8-feet) long, come with a standard alligator clip for ground termination and are the most-preferred over wireless wristbands for their reliability.

Fig. 4: Belkin’s anti-static wristband
Fig. 4: Belkin’s anti-static wristband
Fig. 5: Zeebeetronics’ wrist strap and dual footwear tester
Fig. 5: Zeebeetronics’ wrist strap and dual footwear tester
Fig. 6: ESD tweezers
Fig. 6: ESD tweezers
Fig. 7: ESD service box Other tools
Fig. 7: ESD service box

Other tools

ESD work-surface mat rolls, ESD floor-mat rolls, ESD cushion bags and boxes, ESD sheet protectors, ESD finger cots, ESD gloves, ESD jackets, ESD lables, ESD tapes and anti-static tweezers are some other items to consider depending on your application usage. There are a variety of anti-static bags available for storage and transportation of sensitive devices and components such as multilayer static shielding metallised bags, black conductive bags (usually seen with hard disks), pink bubble bags (seen in development boards packaging), foam covers and boxes.

Finger cots are available in different variants such as general-purpose finger cots, industrial-grade finger cots, nitrile finger cots, conductive finger cots and black or static dissipative finger cots. These are usually powder-free, made of latex material and are perfect for electronic assembly and manufacturing. Table mats used on work surfaces need to be grounded securely. Static-control test stations are also available to determine if ESD wrist straps or shoes are functioning properly.

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In some situations, wearing wrist straps might not be viable. In such cases, use of ESD shoes or heel straps is recommended. In anti-static shoes, the grounding cord usually runs into the socks to make contact with the skin. ESD footwear are only effective with anti-static floor tiles. Even basic equipment such as chairs, table, stools, cabinets, brushes and storage bins are available to create complete and secure anti-static workstations in facilities. In cases where air guns are required, one must make sure the guns do not generate static charges in the air stream. Special guns are available for this purpose.

Good-quality gloves provide anti-static protection up to 108 ohms and are nylon or polyester knit with conductive carbon fibres. ESD mats are available in single- and dual-layer forms. For general purpose, single-layer mats are preferred as these are cost-effective. ESD vinyl mats are ideal for static dissipative and flexible work surfaces. ESD tweezers are very handy and great to have if you are working with surface-mount or compact components.

Keep your devices and components safe
ESD can be a serious cause of malfunctions and crashes in today’s sophisticated as well as simple electronic components and systems. With the best anti-static precautions, you can make sure your devices and components are ESD-protected, particularly when these are disassembled.

Warranty is an important factor to consider while buying ESD tools. Manufacturers typically offer 12 to 24 months of warranty for products such as ionisers, surface-resistivity meters, hot-air guns and wrist-strap testers.

Abhishek A. Mutha is a senior technical correspondent at EFY. This article was written with inputs from Biswajit Das, manager – R&D, EFY Labs


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