02 Jul 2019

Electrostatic Discharge Protection [Dycem ESD Floor Mats]

Electrostatic Discharge Protection [Dycem ESD Floor Mats]

Electrostatic Discharge Protection [Dycem ESD Floor Mats]

2nd July 2019

Electrostatic Discharge Protection at floor level is essential in ensuring electrostatic charges don’t affect productivity.   The majority of people encounter electrostatic charges or discharges (ESD) through commonplace processes such as  the crinkling feeling after emptying clothing from a tumble dryer, scuffing or walking across a carpet and grabbing a door handle, holding onto metal stairway railings, escalators or more awkwardly when shaking hands with other people and receiving a shock. To offer an explanation In layman’s terms, ESD occurs when two materials rub together causing friction and thus positively charging the material. Once your body comes into contact with this the positive charge is transferred to you and escapes you when possible resulting in what is commonly referred to as an “electric shock“. The human body is capable of storing a charge up to 25,000V. This charge is then dissipated (ESD) through the receiving object as the current seeks an unimpeded path. An object’s metal chassis will often act as the conductor for the static to strike, but it can occur through other materials. The amount of charge that is created through the friction of commonplace procedures, however, is not significant enough to create large volumes of electricity – in other words, you will not see a lightning bolt spark from your hand after moonwalking across the carpet and opening a door through touching the door handle.  

Electrostatic Discharge Protection from an Industrial Perspective

From a more industrial perspective, however, these jolts of charge or electricity can cause enormous disruption to everyday workflows and even endanger various operating procedures. The most well-publicised problems surrounding ESD occur within electronics and semiconductor industries, however, ESD  can have significant impacts within the chemical, pharmaceutical, medical device manufacturing and the explosives industry. Contamination and static control procedures and products to aid within this process have been used since the 1400s across Europe and the Caribbean particularly within military operations to assist in the prevention of unwanted ESD within ignition in storage areas for gunpowder. Within the 1900 century in paper manufacturing mills in the USA processes to ensure grounding and attempts at flame ionization were put in place to dissipate static electricity throughout the drying process of paper. In present times, with the increased use of technology and reliance thereupon however current day discussions on ESD mainly surround electronic device and semiconductor manufacturing. The increase in device sensitivity and technology within the electronics industry moving more towards nanotechnology, this heightens the measures manufacturers, processors and fabricators need to set in place to ensure protection for  ESD safe working environments. These are imperative to ensure a safe operating environment for workers and perhaps more importantly to protect the product quality and product yield. The presence of ESD charge can compromise the integrity of an electrical appliance, semiconductor or chip wafer impacting its functionality or worse destroying them completely. The smaller the device the more storage it can generate thus making it more susceptible to damages caused by ESD or poor contamination control procedures.  

Electrostatic Discharge Protection from ESD Enemies

An additional aspect often given less emphasis to within ESD discussions is charged surfaces‘ increased ability to hold contaminants – such as dust particles, compromising the sterility of environments. Dust is one of the main enemies that can trigger triggers ESD occurrences. The introduction of dust contamination and said contaminated particles into a highly sensitive environment such as semiconductor manufacturing can be detrimental to production.  

Considering Impacts of Electrostatic Discharge

it is essential to consider the impacts of contamination within ESD. To avoid the detrimental impacts of ESD charge, however, it is imperative to understand the basics in order to set up procedures for a productive working environment. These basics include explanations of Triboelectric charging. This process entails the induction of contact electrification once materials are separated. The surface area of one of the materials that have been separated becomes positively charged due to the loss of electrons which are passed on to the other material which retains its electrons and takes on the new ones and thus becomes negatively charged. Additionally, induction generates a static charge. This charge induces opposing polarity changes upon surfaces of other areas thus attracting particles. Upon establishing a floor level connection with the ground can result in dangerous ESD impacts. When charged, surfaces are more likely to attract and bind particles that would usually continue within an airborne environment. The difficulties arise when particles particularly sub-micron particles attach to surfaces as these pose difficult for removal. Electrostatic Discharge Protection Sign Regardless of how stringent the regulations are, particles WILL be present within controlled or cleanroom environments. These can occur through personnel, production equipment or the process itself. It is near impossible to completely prevent the generation of static charge within cleanrooms and controlled areas. There are however a number of different processes and Electrostatic discharge protection products in place to reduce static charge risks and particularly within cleanroom environments, these include extensive use of grounding static dissipative and conductive materials such as ESD floor mats. Electrostatic discharge protection mats and other grounding materials within cleanroom and controlled environments aim to control the distribution of charge upon materials created through people or equipment. It is unfortunate however that although introduced to improve ESD requirements within cleanrooms, significant amounts of products used within these sensitive environments contribute to the generation of ESD and charge of products. Examples of these counterproductive products include the use of cleanroom sticky mats. Commonplace within electronics manufacturing, tacky mats are placed prior to entering controlled or classroom environments. The sticky mats are to be walked upon or have wheel traffic rolled across and the glue contained within the sticky mat aims to remove dust and particles prior to entering the cleanroom areas.  The contents of the surface of the tacky mat with the glue bring problems of their own. One of the main issues include remnants of the glue remaining attached to shoes or wheels while entering into the sensitive areas or even tearing and damaging overshoes thus exposing contamination and endangering the environment within the cleanroom. Further issues include the peeling process of sticky mats. Depending on traffic on the tacky mat itself, these need to be peeled very frequently. Tests were undertaken with leading sticky mat manufacturers highlight that with every peeling of a foil, 215,000 particles are re-released into the atmosphere – thus eradicating the intended contamination control aspects. Circling back to the increased appearance of contamination through charged materials, contrary to functionality cleanroom sticky mats are often placed within or prior to these sensitive areas to capture dust and particles. The contact made with the sticky mat material as well as the glue and the shoe or wheel that is moving across the mat produces further electrostatic charge thus improving the propensity for contamination to settle due to dust particles being easier attracted to charged surfaces. For further information on sticky mats use within contamination control and how to reduce their waste read visit our other blogs: Stop Using Tacky Mats Single Use Plastic Waste in Contamination Control Products  

Reducing Electrostatic Discharge with Dycem

  To reduce ESD dangers and introduce an ESD sensitive product, Dycem ESD flooring provides an effective, longlasting solution to help with your ESD needs. As explained previously it is almost impossible to avoid static-generation completely. One of the main solutions to avoid damage to ESD sensitive equipment is to create an environment that inhibits the build-up of static and provided Electrostatic discharge protection. This can include the exclusion of highly charging materials from the controlled area and use of grounding mats, such as Dycem’s contamination control mats or flooring, which are proven to dissipate static at 108 ohms and reduce the damage it can cause. The Dycem Workzone ESD flooring has been specifically designed as a static dissipative solution. Dycem WorkZone has been specially designed to be effective electrostatic discharge protection from contamination control method for areas subject to heavy wheeled traffic. Dycem Workzone ESD flooring is the best solution for heavy wheeled traffic as it effectively attracts, collects and retains contamination from the wheels of forklifts, pallet trucks, as well as preventing static and ESD. Where typical ESD or anti-static flooring solutions only tackle static discharge, Dycem contamination control flooring traps it and neutralizes it. The other benefit that comes from implementing Dycem flooring as a static control measure is that it is able to trap and retain particulate matter to prevent further failures from occurring as a result of dust and dirt contamination. The other benefit that comes from implementing Dycem flooring as a static control measure is that it is able to trap and retain particulate matter to prevent further failures from occurring as a result of dust and dirt contamination. In addition to Dycem’s Workzone solution as a fixed ESD floor and grounding mat and contamination control solution, Dycem’s anti-static Access tile range offers an additional bespoke product favoured within the data centre industry to reduce data loss, hardware failure, dust explosions and zinc whiskers by preventing dust and dirt from entering your system. Available in two options, Dycem can be easily and quickly installed in your facility with your exact contamination control requirements in mind. The inlaid access tile, containing pre-applied Dycem, replace your existing tiles, forming an ideal option where a seamless flooring solution and regular access to cabling is required. Electrostatic Discharge Protection Dycem Floating Floor Slate Dycem’s Electrostatic Discharge Protection flooring solutions offer electrostatic Discharge Protection and have been implemented in various industries to support dissipative static needs of ESD sensitive environments. Although functioning specifically for contamination control and ESD flooring purposes, on occasion customers have implemented Dycem upon worktop surfaces to assist in dust collection upon the work surface rather than allowing the dust and contamination particles to easily enter the sensitive products that are being worked upon. Dycem is easily implemented within your existing facilities and has a longevity of 3-5 years. We can support your contractual needs, and provide an efficient Electrostatic Discharge Protection system for your ESD control. For more information on Dycem as an ESD dissipative product and a grounding mat solution for your ESD and dust contamination control needs, contact us today at contact@dycem.com or on +44 (0) 117 955 9921

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