Maximizing ESD Protection with the Right Materials

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) events can cause serious damage to electronic products, so it is essential to take the necessary steps to protect them. Grounding mats are a common way to guard against ESD, but they can be combined with other materials for additional protection. Conductive vinyl, ESD epoxy, and rubber are all materials that can be grounded and used in conjunction with a grounding mat. These materials are low-generation, making them ideal for the manufacture and handling of electronic products, as well as for end-user applications such as public safety dispatch centers, research laboratories, and server rooms. Conductors are substances that transfer electrons (or charge) easily.

Metals, carbon, and the sweat layer of the human body are all examples of conductors. Grounding works effectively to remove electrostatic charges from ground conductors, but the grounded element must be conductive. Dissipative materials measure from 1 x 104 to less than 1 x 1011 ohms and are conductive enough to eliminate electrostatic charges when grounded. This is the preferred ground connection because all of the workstation's electrical equipment is already connected to it. A separate ground cable may be required for conductive or dissipative devices that are not in contact with a work surface with protection against electrostatic discharge or that are not manipulated by a grounded person.

When installing an ESD hose, it is important to follow the instructions carefully and ensure that it is properly grounded. Antistatic wrist straps or bands connect the user to the ground and not to the electrical device being worked on. The strap surrounds the person's wrist and the grounding cable connects the bracelet to the contact point. The workstation provides a means of connecting all work surfaces, accessories, handling equipment, and grounding devices to a common grounding point. This common ground connection point is defined as a system or method for connecting two or more grounding conductors to the same electrical potential.

An ESD grounding clamp is used to connect equipment susceptible to discharge directly to the ground. When properly worn and connected to the ground, or to the equipotential attachment point, the wrist strap keeps the person wearing it at the ground potential or at the same potential as the object when the ground connection cannot be achieved. By combining different types of materials with a grounding mat, it is possible to achieve maximum protection against ESD events.

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