What is it?
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) in flooring has been an industrial problem for centuries. Today, the problem of ESD is not only a significant cause of failure within the electronics industry, it also impacts productivity, product reliability, manufacturing profitability and safety throughout other industries, such as petroleum and chemical processing, explosives, textile and healthcare.
Controlling electrostatic discharge begins with understanding how it occurs. An electrostatic charge is most commonly created by the contact and separation, or friction, of two similar and dissimilar materials. A charge generated by friction is also called "triboelectricity", from the Greek word " tribos", which means rubbing together.
When friction takes place between two materials, an imbalance of electrons on the surface of materials produces an electric field that can influence other objects. Thus, electrostatic discharge is defined as the transfer of electrostatic charge between objects at different electrostatic potentials - caused by direct contact or induced by an electrostatic field.
The human body is perhaps the most common ESD source. However, a person does not feel an electrostatic discharge until the body is charged to 3000 to 4000 volts. The simple act of standing up can increase the body's stored energy by as much as 1500 volts. In the electronics industry though, even a charge of 3 millivolts per meter is sufficient to cause ESD damage.
Most ESD control professionals agree that the first line of defense against ESD is to direct accumulated static charges away from employees, manufacturing equipment and products. This is usually accomplished through equipment and personnel grounding, combined with static-control floors. The easiest way to achieve localized protection of products in an assembly or manufacturing environment is to ground the work surface.
Many ESD-prevention products are used throughout industry. These include air ionizers, tote boxes, special packaging, wrist straps, footwear, table mats and flooring. Personnel grounding is usually accomplished by use of a wrist strap connected to a ground. However, this is not practical for mobile employees or for those who work in a standing position. Static control floors offer the most effective approach to implementing a comprehensive ESD-control system.