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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.
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