The dramatic impact of ESD on the shop floor

October 15, 2019 //By Gordon McAlpine
ESD
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the sudden flow of electricity between two electrically charged objects caused by contact, an electrical short, or dielectric breakdown. A build-up of static electricity can be caused by tribocharging or by electrostatic induction.


An electrostatic discharge can ignite a nearby solvent.

It has a dramatic impact on the shop floor. Sometimes these impacts can be blatantly obvious, like igniting solvents, and in other occasions, they can be less obvious, like dust build up, coating problems, and components jumping out of tape and reel. Then there can be the scenario of ‘ESD sales by fear’, where the ESD experts will make you believe that you need an ESD wrist strap to ground you whilst you use your mobile phone. It can go from one extreme to the other when discussing ESD.

This is how we keep on top of ESD

ESD is a concern in the Electronic Manufacturing Service (EMS) environment, but in manufacturing it’s more to do with the environment than ESD alone. Studies show that low humidity can impact product throughput. This isn’t surprising when you consider the drying effects of low humidity, and leads us on to consider the possible link between humidity and ESD. Static electricity is an issue in a variety of environments. One of the earliest examples of wrist straps for example, was during the Second World War where operators mixing explosive materials were earthed.
In the manufacturing environment, the biggest risk of static charge comes from people. To take precautionary steps, machinery should be wired correctly and earthed, as should benches. You should consider every person to be a mobile static generator. Their movement, no matter how slight, will generate static electricity, with walking around the shop floor generating the highest degree.


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