Monthly Archives: March 2019

  • Why is ESD Prevention Important?

    Our latest blogs have discussed many things involving ESD- ESD flooring and maintenance, ESD bags, and ESD devices such as heel grounders. We’ve explained how important it is to maintain an ESD-safe environment, but why is it so important? Today, we’re going to dive into why electrostatic discharge can be as simple as a shock you feel on a cold, dry day, or as serious as a shock that ignites flammable mixtures or ruins electronic components in your workspace.

    It’s true, electrostatic shock can be harmless. The sudden jolt you sometimes get after touching a car door or the hand of another person can be a little painful, but most of the time it brings a good laugh, especially when it startles you or the person you touched. Electricity is constantly passing back and forth between ourselves and objects, but the voltage is often times too low to feel. It typically takes a voltage of at least 3,000 for people to detect the shock.

    On the flip side, it only takes 30 volts to damage highly sensitive electronic components, while most components are at risk when the charge is between 100 and 200 volts. With that being said, electronic shocks that are undetectable to humans have the capability to damage or destroy your electrical equipment.

    There are two types of damages that your equipment could experience as a result of ESD events- immediate or delayed damage. With delayed damages, you could see a malfunction of your device at any point of its lifespan. This is also known as a latent defect. These are harder to identify, as the component might continue to perform its function for a certain period of time, but ultimately the operating life will be reduced dramatically.

    The second type of damage is the immediate damage, otherwise known as catastrophic failure. This is when the device is damaged and fails immediately. The damages are permanent and the electronic component is essentially destroyed. 

    If you work in any industry, there are two things you want to save- time and cost. The same could be said for the electronic assembly industry. If you subject yourself to ESD damages, you’re ultimately wasting both your time and your money. Don’t worry, though. There are many different ways to prevent ESD damages and keep your workspace controlled:

    1. ESD Mats and Flooring
    SCS ESD Floor Mat

    ESD matting and flooring work to disperse the electricity created when your feet make contact with the ground. We wrote an entire blog about the different types of ESD flooring and how to maintain it to ensure that you receive the best possible results, so check that out here.

    2 . ESD Clothing

    SCS ESD Smock

    There are also anti-static clothing pieces that you can wear that will help disperse electricity and protect the components you’re working on. You can find ESD clothing options on the GoKimco website. We also highly recommend checking out our Desco 17200 Premium Foot Grounder. We also wrote an entire blog about how these grounders work to prevent static shock, so check that out here.

    3. ESD Accessories

    Desco ESD Wrist STrap

    There are a number of additional items and accessories available that can prevent potential ESD damage. One of these is an ESD wrist strap. GoKimco offers the Desco 14401 Disposable Wrist Strap, a one-time-use strap that is perfect for guests visiting your work environment and can also be used to ship with ESD sensitive products.

    4. ESD Bags

    SCS ESD Bag

    ESD Bags are a great way to store your equipment in a safe environment. We wrote a blog on the difference between Metal-In and Metal-Out ESD bags so that you can choose the type that’s best for the equipment you intend to store. Check that out here.

    There are many other ways to control ESD, but always make sure you are in compliance with the EOS/ESD Association. Stay up-to-date on today’s standards and keep your staff educated on the risk associated with working in electronic assembly environments. As always, if you have any questions about ESD prevention or our ESD products, you can contact us here.

  • How to Choose the Best Soldering Mask For You

    If you’re new at or unfamiliar with the soldering process, you might not initially know the purpose of using a soldering mask for your PCB manufacturing, let alone how to choose one that’s right for the types of applications you’re performing. For starters, a solder mask is a permanent, protective layer or coating that is applied to the copper traces and interfaces on PCBs to protect it from oxidizing. The masks are able to withstand the extreme heat that the soldering iron creates, preventing solder bridging and short circuits.

    Now that you know the purpose of solder masks, it’s time to choose one that’s right for you! There are different types of PCB solder masks that you can choose from, including epoxy liquid, liquid photoimageable mask and dry film photoimageable mask.

    TechSpray Solder Mask

    Here is a look into the three types so you can choose which is best for you:

    1. Epoxy Liquid

    If you’re looking for the most affordable type of soldering mask, this is most likely for you. Liquid epoxy is the most basic and commonly used type of mask and is made of a thermal resistant polymer material. The liquid is silkscreened onto the PCB pattern, usually using ink or other synthetic fibers. Once the transfer of the synthetic fibers is completed, thermal curing is performed in the final stage.

    2. Liquid Photoimagable

    The liquid photoimagable mask is the most commonly used type of mask. They are the most reliable and accurate and make better contact with the board. The liquid can either be sprayed or silkscreened onto your PCB, most often by using the Hot Air Surface Leveling (HASL) method. This operation needs to be performed in a clean environment, free from any contaminants or other particles that could damage the board. Afterwards, the PCB is placed into a UV developer where the film is precisely aligned over the board. The blacked out locations on the PCB will prevent curing in areas where it is unwanted. Afterwards, the uncured areas are washed off.

    3. Dry Film Photoimageable

    This type of mask is best if your board surface is very flat. The mask must be applied using vacuum lamination to avoid defects and air bubbles, and therefore is not recommended for complex surface features. After applying the dry film, it is exposed and then developed, leaving various openings in the pattern. Copper is then layered onto the board inside the openings using electrochemical processing and followed up with tin to protect the copper from oxidizing. Once this process is done, the film is removed, leaving the copper exposed. The final step is thermal curing.

    There are also different colors of solder masks available that can improve the aesthetics of your PCB. While the most common solder mask color is green, there are also several other colors that you can use depending on your design requirements or preferences, including red, blue, black, white, yellow, orange, purple and clear. Green is most recommended because of its ability to adhere evenly and its higher resolution. Red typically gives the best color contrast between a PCB’s components. Blue is more highly coveted because of its rarity. Black absorbs more heat than other colors.

    Colored PCBs

    There’s no definite right or wrong answer for the color and type of soldering mask you should choose for your applications. If you still have any questions about the uses of each type and whether it would be best for you, be sure to give our experts at GoKimco a call by visiting the Contact Us page on our website.

  • Difference Between Metal-In and Metal-Out ESD Bags

    In previous blogs, we’ve discussed how important it is to take care of sensitive materials and devices by ensuring that your work environment is ESD safe. Today we’re going to dive into the differences between two commonly used ESD protection bags- the metal-in and metal-out bags.

    Both types of bags are conductive, or metalized, and comprised of multiple layers that make up a protective shield. The protective shield works to keep electrostatic discharge generated by surfaces, other materials and the user from making contact with ESD sensitive devices. With that being said, both are different in their overall makeup as well as their best uses and features.

    Metal-In ESD Bags

    The more commonly used of the two is the metal-in shielding bag. Like it’s name would suggest, metal-in bags feature a metal shield closer to the middle, or inside, of the bag. The metal shield lies within a layer of static dissipative polyethylene and polyester. Typically speaking, the metal-in bags gain the edge when it comes to cost and durability. They last longer than metal-out bags as they are less likely to scratch and they’re more commonly found on the market.

    Metal-Out ESD Bags

    In metal-out bags, the layer of metal is closer to the outside surface of the bag in between the polyester and the abrasion resistant coating. Because of this, this type of bags have a lower resistance reading and can dispel a static charge faster than metal-in bags can. They’re most commonly used in critical electronics applications and disk drive manufacturing and are most recommended for operations where faster charge decay is preferred.

    While there’s no direct answer to which type of bag you should buy, it will depend on your budget, the materials you use and the types of operations you perform. If you have any additional questions about metal-in and metal-out bags, be sure to give us a call. You can shop our inventory of ESD protection bags here.

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