Electronic Discharge (ESD) Its Costly and It can Kill Profits

By Oleh Artym

ESD is an important concept to understand, when it comes to the care and handling of expensive electronic devices. We have all seen static electricity in the form of lightning or perhaps felt the zap when reaching for a door knob. Similar types of electrical charges can have an effect on the electronic components in every day production and warehousing. Unfortunately, their effect is much more hazardous and not as readily apparent. Static electricity is an electrical charge at rest. Static electricity is most commonly created by friction and separation. Friction causes heat, which excites the molecular particles of the material. When two materials are then separated, a transfer of electrons from one material to the other may take place.

Because electrons transfer, the absence or surplus of electrons creates an electrical field known as static electricity. The amount of static electricity generated depends upon the materials subjected to friction or separation, the amount of friction or separation and the relative humidity of the environment. Common plastic generally will create the greatest static charge. Low humidity conditions such as those created when air is heated during the winter will also promote the generation of significant static electrical charges.

Materials that easily transfer electrons (or charge) between atoms are called conductors and are said to have “free” electrons. Some examples of conductors are metals, carbon and VpCI®foam and Cortec ESD films. Materials that do not easily transfer electrons are called insulators, they include glass and air. Both conductors and insulators can be “charged” with static electricity. When a conductor is charged, the free electrons give it the ability to discharge rapidly when it comes close to another conductor with a different potential. Many of the common activities you perform daily may generate charges on your body that are potentially harmful to components, for example: Walking across a carpet, 1,500 to 35,000 volts; Walking over untreated vinyl floor, 250 to 12,000 volts; Worker at a bench, 700 to 6,000 volts; Picking up a common plastic bag from a bench, 1,200 to 20,000 volts.

It's important to recognize that Cortec 130 series foam products and Cortec ESD films were designed to protect electronics from the devastating effects of ESD. Our VpCI® products not only protect from ESD but also from corrosion. Nobody else offers this 1-2 punch.