When working with a printed circuit board, it is important to be aware of electrostatic discharge (ESD). ESD is a common problem that occurs more often than most people realize. When it becomes a serious issue, it can cause major damage to any project. The amount of damage that ESD causes can be catastrophic and force you to replace expensive equipment or scrap the job completely. It is crucial to understand, monitor, and control ESD especially when dealing with electrical devices such as circuit boards and sensors.
What is ESD?
ESD occurs when there is a sudden change of electrical pulses between carriers of static electricity. These exchanges can occur between objects, people, and electrical devices. Some common ways people become statically charged is by walking across a carpeted area, sitting in a chair made of urethane foam, or picking up a poly bag from a bench.
Types of ESD Symbols
1) ESD Safe – Hand, triangle, and circle.
2) ESD Sensitive – Hand and triangle
What Causes an Increase in ESD?
Whenever there is an assembly of several people working in a particular area around sensitive electronics, there is a possibility for high voltages accumulating on workers’ bodies. In addition, conditions where there is low humidity can cause an increase in ESD. The type of floor used can also contribute to a high exchange of electrostatic discharge.
Ways to Prevent ESD
It is important to create a work area that is free from ESD. One of the first things you should consider when setting up any workstation is to ensure that it is not set up in a carpeted area. Since carpet is a conductor for generating electrical flow, it is important to only use concrete or tile floors to get the best protection.
Choosing the right equipment is also essential for ESD prevention. There are a variety of products on the market you can choose from including protective wrist straps and other gear to ensure a static free workplace.
Ways to Monitor ESD in an electronic assembly process
Once you have a system in place that eliminates potential for ESD, then monitoring your work environment is also important. ESD monitoring can be done through outsourcing or on-site testing using an in-house static testing device such as the Desco 19325 Full Time Continous Single Station Monitor. This type of equipment comes with advanced, innovative features that provide full-time ESD monitoring to prevent accidental occurrences and maintain a safer work environment. In addition you can monitor ESD events with the 3M CTM082 ESD Pro Event Detector. The CTM082 detects and counts the discharges as well as shows the relative strength of each ESD event.
To prevent catastrophic loss and create a safer work environment, it is important to understand, monitor, and control ESD. Ensuring that all employees take part in helping to control ESD is also essential for a prevention plan. By using the right tools and providing education, ESD can be controlled safely.