A few months ago, we wrote about ESD (electrostatic discharge). In case, you’re not sure just what this means, let us refresh your memory. ESD is the sudden flow of electricity between two electrically-charged objects caused by contact, an electrical short, or dielectric breakdown.
In that article on ESD, we also noted that the buildup of static electricity can be caused by tribocharging or by electrostatic induction. The ESD occurs when differently-charged objects are brought close together or when the dielectric between them breaks down, often creating a visible spark. (A good example of ESD is lightning.) The spark you get when you rub your shirt sleeve against an object is another example, which we all relate to.
Now what about ESD in the workplace. Certainly, this is a problem for manufacturing firms or job sites that use highly flammable materials (solvents, for instance) or make pyrotechnics. As well, labs and shops that work with semi-conductors should also be wary of ESD, as this affects electronic circuitry and the like.
We look to ways of preventing buildup or reacting to ESD for the safety and protection of the worker and the workplace. First, note that there are conductive materials. Because of their low electrical resistance, electrons flow easily across the surface or through the bulk of conductive materials. These go to ground or to another conductive object that the material contacts or comes close to. We also classify conductive materials as antistatic.
Antistatic is a term used to describe materials that prevent the buildup of static electricity.
Also having to do with preventing or lessening the effect of ESD are dissipative materials. With these, the charges flow through the material slowly and in a somewhat more controlled manner than with conductive materials. Hence, the charges are dissipated through the material. The thinking here is to prevent the spread of the charges. These materials are also considered antistatic.
While we are at it, let’s also add insulative materials to the mix. These prevent or limit the flow of electrons across their surface or through their volume. Insulative materials have a high electrical resistance and are difficult to ground.
At Amco, we have three products that are concerned with ESD.
The Orthomaster Electrostatic Discharge Mat is an anti-fatigue mat that provides superior ergonomic comfort while providing capabilities as a safety mat used for rapid electrostatic discharge. Note that when used on unpainted concrete floors the Orthomaster ESD mats do not need to be grounded with an electrical cord.
As concrete is conductive, this will dissipate small static electrical charges through the floor ultimately connecting to some type of steel work and earthing out to ground. The Orthomaster ESD mat has the capabilities to conduct all static charges from any point on the top surface to any given point on the bottom of the mat. This is due to its one piece construction and is not subject to delaminating, as found in inferior mats.
The Conductive Diamond Sponge is anti-fatigue mat drains static electricity from workers before damaging sensitive electronic equipment. The mat is ideal for hazardous static discharges in chemical and flammable workplace environments.
This mat quickly drains any static electricity from workers footwear before it can be passed on to sensitive electrical equipment which use electronic pc boards and microprocessor chips.
The ESD anti fatigue mats need to be grounded with an electrical cord to an earthing bar or plugged into a normal 240 volt power socket. Or, alternately this can be plugged to equipment that are grounded.
For use on benches where ESD can cause havoc, our ESD Bench Mat is ideal. The bottom layer is made of a conductive black rubber which provides a good non-slip layer on the bench. The top layer is made of a dissipative rubber layer. This layer dissipates any charge which is then is pulled to the bottom layer which pulls this away. The bottom layer has a lower resistance and thus helps electrons flow faster along and through the rubber mat to ground or another conductive object the rubber ESD mat comes in contact with.
Note that this ESD rubber material offers excellent resistance to oil, grease and most common solvents and is also heat resistant. ESD Rubber bench Mats are very light compared to our single layer and three layer mats.
This bench mat also is available in a green-coloured version. This is used to designate a lead-free work area. The lightly embossed surface is a lot easier to clean than vinyl mats.
Contact us now for more information or discuss your needs.