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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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