ESD Control

  • ESD in Winter

    Our Circuit Boards are in Danger in the Winter!

    Okay, technically circuit boards are in danger all the time, but more so in the winter. Why? Because it’s easier to shock them. And when circuit boards get shocked, they can fail immediately or start doing crazy, bad things. There are two main culprits when it comes to electrostatic discharge (ESD) damage and the first is: you. Yes, you and your habits when handling circuit boards. The second is mother nature and her affinity for changing seasons. But first, the basics:

    (Remember, this is simplified to retain your attention.) Electrostatic discharge (ESD) happens when two electrically charged objects have a sudden flow of electricity between them. You can rub almost any two objects together and one will get positively charged and the other negatively, for example: the simple act of unwinding tape, and some objects hold charges longer and stronger than others. This is where YOU come in- by utilizing best practices, you can minimize the risk you pose to your boards. On the flip side, your new knowledge will allow you to maximize the shocks you bestow on your loved ones. For instance, you (a being who holds a lot of positive charge) could wear a polyester shirt (a material that likes to hold negative charges) and shuffle across the carpet in your socks to the unsuspecting human on the couch…ZAP!

    Where does mother nature come in? Well, she likes to decrease the humidity in the winter, and decreased relative humidity lengthens the amount of time an object will hold a charge. Simplified, moisture in the air or on surfaces acts like a film through which charges can dissipate. Are you a numbers person? Okay, here’re a few examples:

    Walking on carpet: 35,000 volts at 15% RH versus 1,500 volts at 65% RH

    Walking on vinyl tile: 12,000 volts at 15% RH versus 250 volts at 65% RH

    So, now you’re convinced ESD is a problem in winter...but what can you do about it!? Make it super humid! Just kidding, don’t do that unless you want to deal with corrosion and other side effects. You can shoot for some middle ground, like 40%, with an air humidifier, but you’ll want to take other steps, too. The following are anti-static devices and when combined are quite effective at drastically reducing the threat of ESD:

    1. Wrist straps: these are connected to metal clamps that connect to the desk or table to ground you
    2. Heel grounders: these are designed to effectively connect with a grounded floor
    3. Anti-static matting: for floors or tables, these have high electrical resistance
    4. Ground cords: often connect to mats and best for non-mobile environments
    5. Anything labeled “antistatic”, such as lotion, tape, shoes, garments, etc.
  • Eight Steps For Being S20.20 Compliant

    For all of our ESD prevention, assessment and detection products, you’ll find a feature in the description that states something like this: “Meets ANSI/ESD S20.20…” or “In accordance with ANSI/ESD S20.20…” What does this mean, exactly? In order to meet the need for standard level products in the electronics industry, the ESD Association established the ANSI/ESD S20.20, which helps organizations design, implement and maintain an ESD program to protect all ESD-sensitive electrical parts, assemblies and equipment. There are eight steps to follow in order to become S20.20 compliant, and we’ll go over each one of them:

    1. Training

    All personnel who handle or even just come into contact with ESD sensitive items most have initial and recurrent ESD awareness and prevention training.

    2. Product Qualification

    This is conducted during the initial selection of ESD control items to ensure that all of the chosen ESD control items meet the plan requirements. This list of these items should be included on your ESD Control Plan, a controlled document approved by upper management.

    3. Compliance Verification

    The compliance verification plan identifies electrical properties needing checked, measurement limits, and test frequencies per manufacturer and industry recommendations.

    4. Grounding/Equipotential Bonding Systems

    In this step, you connect ESDS items, personnel and other conductors to the same electrical potential. The 3rd-wire AC electrical equipment ground is the preferred, recommended ground reference.

    5. Personnel Grounding

    The two options for grounding here are either wrist straps or heel grounders. If person will be seated, wrist straps must be the product of choice. A flooring system must also be installed if heel grounders are used.

    6. ESD Protected Area (EPA) Requirements

    You must handle ESDS items, parts, assemblies and equipment without ESD protective packaging in an EPA Protected Area with clear boundaries. The plans for these must evolve to keep pace with costs, device sensitivities and the way they are manufactured.

    7. Packaging Systems

    Define ESD protective packing requirements for both inside and outside the EPA. When you are moving ESD susceptible devices outside the protected area, you must package and enclose the device in an ESD shielding bag.

    8. Marking

    Mark ESDS items in accordance with other customer contracts, purchase orders, drawings or other documentation.

  • Best Tools for ESD Event Detection

    We’ve harped on it time and time again: Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) prevention is so important! Electronic build-up that is undetectable to humans still has the capability to damage or even destroy your electrical equipment.

    If not properly maintained, ESD damage can really set you back in terms of production cost and time. In fact, the ESD Association estimates that the cost of losses due to ESD ranges between half a billion dollars to $5 billion each year. This is because ESD damage can be tricky to detect. Some devices stop working altogether (known as catastrophic failure) while others experience partial damage over time that cause an overall drop in efficiency (known as a latent defect).

    If there were a way to save yourself cost and labor in the long run, would you do it? Of course you would! The good news is that there are ways to save cost and labor when it comes to ESD prevention, and it starts with detection. Here are three of our most recommended products for detecting, measuring and monitoring ESD events so you can ensure that the ESD control program you have in place is working:

    1. SCS CTM082 Pro ESD Event Indicator

    The SCS CTM082 both detects and counts ESD events for control program troubleshooting and improvement. The four-digit display counts the number of ESD events that have occurred at or above the alarm threshold and resets every time the power is turned off. Get as close as you can to the suspected source of the ESD event and use the indicator to detect and measure its relative strength. When the strength of an event exceeds the set threshold, the LED will turn red. Shop the SCS CTM082 here.

      2. SCS CTM048-21 ESD Events Sensor Meter

    This user-friendly and portable meter serves as a measuring instrument for most ESD signals and measures the magnitude of ESD events. It can also estimate the magnitude for CDM, HBM and MM models. The device’s touch screen allows users to easily navigate through the features and the speaker and headphone alarm outputs allow you to use it in a noisy place. The microsSD card within the device can log data and then be exported to an Excel sheet for quick analysis. Buy the SCS CTM048-21 here.

    3. SCS 770063 EM Aware Monitor, Field & Ionization, Ethernet Output

    The SCS 770063 is compatible with the SCS Static Management Program (SMP) and through it, collects data including ESD event count, changes in the static voltage field and ionizer performance. Because of this, it is able to identify problematic environments and qualify tools for handling ESD-sensitive devices. This monitor, as well as all the products listed, meets the requirements of S20.20, which states that continuous monitoring should be considered or even mandated. The data collected by device allows you to see overall trends and improve the efficiency and quality of your ESD control.  Shop the SCS 770063 here.

    As always, if you have questions about any of the products listed, be sure to contact us and we'd be happy to help!

  • How To Protect Your Electronic Components From Moisture

    Think back to the times you spent hours working on a school project or typing a term paper before it was due. The hard work and meticulous planning was worth the perfected final result. Now imagine it being the due date and right before you submit it you close out of the document without saving any of the work or drop the 3D model you crafted on the floor, smashing it to pieces. You can probably imagine that feeling of devastation you would have felt when you realized the project you spent so long on is now suddenly useless.

    Why waste hours of your life working on your electronic components if you’re going to expose them to moisture and meet the same fate as that school project? If you’re storing your electronics in damp, dark or humid environments, you just might end up with a final result that is just as useless. There are ways to avoid this, though, and there are products that you can buy that will ensure your components stay in top condition.

    Here are a few of our recommendations:

    1. Moisture Barrier Bags

    Moisture barrier bags are comprised of multiple layers of plastic and aluminum that are designed to keep out moisture. They are one of the most effective packing solutions for sensitive components and protect against humidity, moisture, oxygen, grease or other airborne contaminants that could cause damage. The bags feature a vacuum seal that also protect against damage due to other events such as ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) and EMI (Electromagnetic Interference). Check out the moisture barrier bags that GoKimco offers here.

    2. Humidity Indicator Cards

    Humidity Indicator Cards, or HIC’s, are cards that indicate humidity levels inside sealed packaging. They contain a moisture-sensitive chemical that will change color if a great enough humidity level is detected. The SCS 6HIC200 6-Spot Humidity Cards respond to various levels of humidity with a visible color change from blue to pink. Each can contains 200 cards, which is a great value for your purchase. Pair these with your moisture barrier bags to provide the best protection for moisture sensitive items.

    3. Desiccant Packs

    Desiccant packs are used alongside humidity indicator cards and placed inside moisture barrier bags to absorb moisture.  Packs come in many different sizes and in addition to absorbing moisture, can also absorb gas, vapor or odor. The porous pouch allows moisture to seep through and be absorbed by the desiccant inside. The Desco 13844 Desiccant Packs are reusable and can be reactivated by oven drying. Even when saturated by moisture, the desiccant pack remains dry. Together, the moisture barrier bags, humidity indicator cards and desiccant packs make up what’s known as a “dry package”.

    4.Conformal Coating

    Conformal coating is a protective chemical that can protect sensitive electronics from moist environments and electrical shorts by creating a barrier of insulation. Although not designed to be a total sealant, conformal coatings will also allow moisture trapped in PCBs to escape. There are different ways to apply a conformal coating including dipping, spraying and brushing. The ACL 8690 Acrylic Conformal Coating Spray is applied by spraying and has an operating temperature of -75 degrees F to 270 degrees F, so check it out.

    Those are our most recommended products for moisture control for your sensitive electronic components so you can rest assured knowing that your best work will be preserved and protected against any sort of environment. Have questions? Contact us here.

  • 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.

  • 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.

  • How to Maintain ESD Flooring

    ESD Flooring, or electrostatic discharge flooring, serves as way for electricity that accumulates on a person to be controlled and discharged into a ground point. Why is this important? Think about how many times you can remember the shock of static electricity after touching a metal door handle or even another person. To you, the transfer of electricity and the shock you feel from it can be jarring and even quite painful. To a printed circuit board or any other sensitive electronic component, the electrostatic transfer could damage or even destroy the parts you’ve worked so hard to create. In addition, working in flammable environments without ESD flooring could put you at risk for spark creation and explosions, causing injury or even death in some cases.

    Desco ESD-Safe Floor Matting

    There are a variety of different ESD floor types to choose from including vinyl tiles, carpet tiles, rubber flooring, epoxy flooring, mats and floor finish. The type of flooring you decide upon will depend on your desired price point and the floor’s anti-static property levels and conductivity. Regardless of which floor type you go with, however, there will be some sort of maintenance required since the build up of dirt or dust on an ESD floor could prevent the static from dissolving properly into the ground.

    The cleaning process can vary depending on which ESD floor you choose. For example, carpet and rubber only require simple maintenance in the form of vacuuming and steam cleaning for the carpet and mopping for the rubber. Vinyl is the most difficult to maintain, requiring regular buffing. It’s important to note that the process of cleaning ESD floors is not the same as cleaning the regular floors that you might have in your house. Many household products contain silicone, which leaves a residue behind and weakens the integrity of your ESD surface.

    Staticide Ultra II Floor Finish

    If your ESD floors are already treated with an ESD finish, the maintenance process could be made easier and your floors might be preserved longer. GoKimco offers several different ESD-safe finishes that are designed to provide high performance static control on any sealed or hard surface. These finishes have a durable, non-slip formulation and a high resistance to abrasion, all for an affordable price. You can find more information about these products here. We understand that the process of deciding whether you need an ESD finish might be confusing if you’re not sure which ESD floor you wish to choose yet. If you have any questions about the maintenance or cleaning process, be sure to contact us and we’ll be happy to assist.

  • How Does a Heel Grounder Work?

    We’ve all experienced the sudden, uncomfortable jolt of a static shock, followed by the inadvertent yelp or maybe even profanity that comes out of our mouths as we quickly retract our hand from the surface we just touched. It’s not quite as bad as stepping on a Lego, but it’s still pretty bad, and I’m sure if anyone had the opportunity to avoid that sneaky shock for the remainder of their lifetime, they would gladly accept it.

    While there’s no way to avoid static shock 100 percent of the time in everyday life, if you frequently work in ESD areas, a heel grounder could save you and your equipment from harmful electronic transfer.

    GoKimco offers a product called the Desco 17200 Premium Foot Grounder that will protect the wearer from static shock build up. So, how do these simple devices work? When you experience that jolt of electricity, it is due to the built up static charge on your body jumping between you and the surface you’re touching.

    If you’re wearing the Desco 17200 foot grounders and making contact with an ESD floor, the electricity that would have built up static on your shoes and skin is then dissolved into the ground. This product is great for people whose projects require mobility such as soldering, kitting, and quality control, as the steps you take drain the static charges from your body.

    As mentioned briefly above, heel grounders are designed specifically for ESD surfaces and flooring. This is the only way to provide a continuous path for the static build up to escape directly through to the ground. With that being said, while we know that these rubber accessories are just to die for and deserve a spot on the list of latest fashion trends, wearing them out to your local grocery store or mall probably won’t prevent you from getting jolted.

    On the other hand, these adjustable grounders can save you from equipment damage. Over time, static transfer can cause partial or complete failure of sensitive devices. According to Erin Wade of Occupational Health and Safety, Electrostatic Discharge could be responsible for more than 25 percent of circuit failures. That’s a pretty big risk to take when you could easily slap on a pair of Desco heel grounders and cancel the static altogether.

    GoKimco offers this product at an inexpensive price to fit most shoe sizes comfortably for both men and women. You can find more information on the product here.

    Desco 17200 Heel Grounder

  • Why Use Ionizers

    You’ve heard about ionizers before...but do you really need them? If you want to protect your workstation from electrostatic discharge (ESD), then the answer is most likely yes.

    Certain preventative measures can be taken to protect your workstation from electrostatic discharge. In order to maintain a proper ESD control program you will sometimes need to use additional equipment -- this is where the ionizer comes into play.

    Below, we’ll go over four methods for reducing electrostatic discharge both with and without the use of an ionizer to show you the difference.

    Three Ways to Reduce Electrostatic Discharge Without an Ionizer

    In an ESD protected area, insulators can be controlled by doing the following:

    1. Use insulators and maintain a perimeter
    In addition to using a grounded work surface, be sure to use insulated items. These insulated items should be a minimum of 30 centimeters away from all ESD sensitive items at all times.

    2. Use ESD protective items
    To add an extra layer of precaution, replace your insulative items with fully ESD protected versions. For example, instead of using a regular drinking cup at your workstation, replace it with a fully insulated thermos.

    3. Periodically apply topical anti-static agent
    For items which cannot be replaced with an ESD protected version, protect against electrostatic discharge by periodically applying a topical anti-static agent. Examples of such items might be your keyboard.

    Why use an ionizer

    When none of this is possible, the insulator is termed process essential and therefore neutralization using an ionizer should become a necessary part of the ESD control program.

    How ionizers remove electrostatic discharge
    While conductive items can be discharged of their negative ions by being placed on a grounded surface, an insulator will still maintain a positive charge when placed on a grounded surface. Here’s an example:

    This instrument is a digital static field meter which measures voltages associated with electrostatic charge. If we rub two paddles together -- one an insulator and the other a conductor -- and hold them over the field meter the meter shows that the insulated paddle holds many thousands of volts, which in this case is a positive charge.

    The conductive paddle holds a much lower negative charge but it is still charged.

    If we place both paddles on a grounded surface and hold them over the field meter again, the insulator is still holding a large positive charge.

    However the conductor is no longer holding a charge. By placing the conductor on a grounded surface the charge was transferred to the mat and away to the ground.

    An ionizer can help maintain an ESD protected workstation for both insulators and conductors.

    Once the ionizer is turned on it sends out thousands of matching pairs of both positive and negative ions in the air flow. If we hold the positively charged insulative paddle into the air flow it will attract negative ions thereby neutralizing the charge on the surface.

    It’s like magic...or better yet, science!

    Still have questions? Watch our instructional video to learn more about why you should use ionizers here.

    What size ionizer is best?
    The size of the ionizer needed depends on the size of your workstation. For small workstations and desktops not more than 1-4 feet, a single-fan ionizer will work. For larger workstations or a grouping of desktops, several overhead multi-fan ionizers may be more suitable. As a supplement, or to reach small interior areas and remove lodged debris, a point-and-shoot ionizer or ionizer gun works best.

    Shop these and other ESD protective items for your manufacturing workspace from KIMCO’s ionization equipment.

  • The Power of Static Electricity and Minimizing an Electrostatic Discharge

    The Power of Static Electricity

    We’ve all experienced that little static shock between ourselves and another surface or person.  While annoying, it is a relatively harmless event. That is unless it happens in certain work environments and around sensitive electronic equipment. In these cases it can be very expensive.

    That seemingly tiny charge can cause a short or even a fusing of metals together on a circuit board. It can cause damage that the naked eye can’t see. Today’s electronics are so powerful and sensitive that in the blink of an eye, they are altered by a static charge.

    What is the Cause of Electrostatic Charges?

    An electrostatic discharge is the transfer of electrons between two objects. One surface is positively charged while the other is negatively charged.  The human skin tends to accumulate positive charges, while synthetic materials gather negative charges.

    Electrostatic charges occur three primary ways:

    • Air movement around electronic equipment. This can include spray compressed air or fans near the equipment.
    • Synthetic materials placed near electronic equipment. This can be as simple as a Styrofoam coffee cup.
    • Human contact with electronic equipment. The human body can store a surprising amount of electrostatic charge. Simply handling a circuit board can discharge it.

    Minimizing and Preventing Electrostatic Charges

    There are multiple steps you can take to prevent electrostatic charges. Making sure your facility has a single common ground is a good place to start. You can also use ESD-safe compressed air. Make an effort to keep synthetic materials away from electronic equipment. But there is a simpler way to solve issues with electrostatic charges: ESD matting.

    The Purpose of ESD Matting

    ESD Matting keeps a balance between positive and negatively charged surfaces. It is a convenient and affordable way to solve a potentially expensive problem. ESD mats come in tabletop versions and in floor mats. They come in an array of colors and sizes. If you want to assure a static free environment consider the use of ESD matting.

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