Warning: Trying to access array offset on value of type bool in /home/gndzero/public_html/gndzero.com/blog/wp-content/themes/fruitful/functions.php on line 575
15 Jun

Conductive, Dissipative, or Anti-Static Flooring?

Conductive, Dissipative, or Anti-Static Flooring

You’re hard at work at your latest assignment. Your boss wants you to put together a complete plan for creating a large-scale electrostatic protection area (EPA) for a client who will be assembling various sensitive electronics and they want to avoid any risk of losing their investment due to electrostatic discharge (ESD).

You’ve selected the grounding cables, the workstations, the custom cut matting, containers and furniture, all designed to minimize or eliminate the slightest chance of ESD damage. But a curious thing happens when you research the proper flooring.

A simple Internet search for ESD flooring yields numerous options, more than you expect and you start to notice they all fall under 3 categories.  In an instant, you’re faced with a decision, just like the game show, “Let’s Make a Deal.”

Suddenly, Monty Hall (or Wayne Brady, the current host!) is staring at you, asking do you want to choose door number one, number two, or number three: conductive, dissipative, or anti-static? The clock is ticking… How do you decide?

Door #1

For starters, let’s eliminate one of your options. Much like the ‘ZONKS’ of the game show, ‘anti-static’ is a worthless term in your ESD vocabulary.  By strict definition, anti-static refers to a material that resists generating a charge.  At one time it did designate a level of resistance, but was so overused and misunderstood, the term was removed from the ANSI/ESD standards.

So likewise, eliminate the term ‘anti-static’ from your discussion.

Deciding between the other two doors requires a closer look at the specific needs of the area for which the flooring is intended.

We’ve talked in another article about Ohms (Ω) and how they are the unit of measurement for resistance to electrical current.

Door #2

Because of the size and scope of most areas where it is necessary, the most common form of ESD flooring is referred to as ‘Static Conductive.’ Conductive flooring is at the low end of the electrical resistance scale.

Conductive carpeting may even be laced with carbon lines or metallic yarn fibers to encourage the flow of electricity. Because of the low electrical resistance, electrons flow easily across and through the surface, and can be grounded safely and quickly. This carpeting or vinyl tile is laid down with a conductive adhesive and grounded through the use of conductive tape or copper strips that run to a common ground.

This type of flooring is also generally a little more cost-effective than a dissipative solution.

Door #3

On the higher end of the resistance scale falls ‘Static Dissipative’ flooring. The higher resistance of these materials keeps the electrical charge more under control as it slowly flows over the surface and into a ground. Dissipative flooring is much more common in shared office environments where everyday shoes are more common, as opposed to a location where every element, from furniture to footwear, is controlled.

In our example above, the client will be assembling sensitive electronics like circuit boards and such in a large-scale environment. In this instance, a vinyl tile, or a poured epoxy flooring with conductive properties would most likely be the best option.

In an office setting where a company has their own IT department that fixes and assembles computers within the same facility, a dissipative, static resilient tiled floor would be a better fit.

But the fact is, these are very simplified examples of the myriad of variables that you can encounter when selecting the proper ESD controlled flooring. Your best option is to talk to an expert.

We’d love to be the experts you can count on for your full service, seamless ESD solutions. For more information or advice on your specific ESD flooring needs – or any other ESD questions, contact us today.

25 Feb

Building an Electrostatic Protected Area (EPA)

How to Build an Electrostatic Protected Area

Almost everyone’s familiar with the image of a white “cleanroom” or “bunny suit.” They show up in just about every depiction of people working in computer facilities in popular entertainment, and it’s a highly sought after specialty ‘armor’ in the video game Fallout 4.

What most people may not know is that the suits are designed not to protect the person inside, but the delicate circuitry they’re working on.  But not everyone who works with small, sensitive electronics needs to spend money for a full-on, disposable suit.

If you work with a lot of small electronics, a more affordable solution is to put together an electrostatic protected area (or EPA).  This doesn’t have to take up a lot of space and can actually be quite portable.  It just needs to be done properly.

Let’s start with the basics and work our way up to the safest and most expensive options.

Simple EPA

At a bare minimum, all personnel working within an EPA should have a personal grounding wrist strap.  These make sure any excess energy is grounded – forced away – from the electronic devices and circuit boards being handled.

Connected to that grounding strap is a dissipative mat. Dissipative means quite simply to disperse or disappear.  A properly designed and implemented dissipative mat does for the surface what the grounding wrist strap does for the person – protects sensitive electronics from electrical discharges.

Mats can be purchased pre-cut or in rolls, depending on what your needs are.

Attached to both of these is a common point cord, also referred to as a grounding cord.  These cords are fully insulated and take any electrostatic charges away from the person and the ESD mat to be grounded safely.

Often these simple options are packaged together as a field service or workstation kit that can be purchased as one unit to avoid forgetting any key elements.

Now that we’ve established the minimum requirements for an EPA, let’s look at additional options that can be easily implemented within your system to further insure the safety of the components and reduce the risk and excess cost of replacement.

From the Ground Up

For more permanent EPA installations, there are a variety of flooring options that can be integrated.  Everything from conductive and dissipative vinyl tiles to anti-static carpeting that can be utilized in the work area or just in the area surrounding your EPA system.  You can even add flooring with a high-end moisture barrier as well as anti-static protection.

Sole Protection

One of the most obvious ways we build up a potentially dangerous electrostatic discharge is just by walking.  Static charges build up naturally.  While a personal grounding wrist strap will help dissipate the charge, there are additional options for your feet.

Shoe covers with conductive strips are a quick, low cost addition to an existing EPA system and great for alleviating the risk of allowing visitors into the EPA area.

For employees whose duties mean they spend substantial time in the EPA area, you can add foot and heel grounders, toe grounders and sole grounders.

For even more protection, grounders can be upgraded to ESD shoes.  These come in a variety of styles for your business setting – even weatherproof boots and hiking models.

Additional Considerations

Adding isolation protocols and ESD protective containers can also complement your EPA system and reduce the chance of any accidental charges building up or discharging into your electronic components.

Of course grounding should be a consideration with any additions to your EPA system.  Whether it’s flooring or matting, grounding cords with a built in resistor add that much more protection to your area.  And the more working parts you have, the more grounding capability you require.

There are simple options to increase the grounding ability of any size EPA system, as well as monitors that can be added to the system – at the personal or system-wide level.

And if you really feel the need to cover yourself top to bottom, there are more workable clothing options as well.

Contact us today for more information; we would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider.

07 Jan

Why Do You Need ESD Shoes?

Why Do You Need ESD Shoes?

You’ve heard teachers say, “Any question is a good question, so ask away!”

So, here’s a question…“Why Do I Need ESD Shoes?” Before we answer that, let’s briefly review electrostatic discharge first.

Electrostatic Discharge or ESD: A Quick Review

Simply defined, static electricity is an electrical charge caused by an imbalance of electrons on the surface of a material.  This imbalance produces an electrical field that can be measured and that can influence other objects at a distance. Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) is the transfer of charges between bodies at different electrical potentials.

You are most likely aware of ESD at two extremes:  the annoyance of that shock from striding across a carpet or witnessing the destructive nature of a lightning strike.

However, between these two extremes are electrostatic discharges found in workplace environments that can actually be costly or dangerous. Personnel shock injuries can range from a mild annoyance to a temporary loss of sight or hearing.

This same static discharge can ignite flammable mixtures and damage electronic components. Static electricity can also attract contaminants in clean environments or cause products to stick together.  Sometimes called the “invisible enemy”, static electricity or ESD can wreak havoc in many work environments if not properly managed.

Why You Need ESD Shoes…

While there are physical and mechanical causes for ESD in manufacturing, technological or office environments, personnel are considered a primary cause of electrostatic discharge. In other words, personnel themselves charge up their own bodies! The clothing and shoes they wear generate electrostatic charges when they scoot in and out of their chairs, or as they shuffle across the floors. It can even be generated in unintentional movement as shirt fabric rubs up against the skin. (Talk about being charged up and ready to go!)

Combined with ESD flooring, you can prevent damaging buildup of static discharge with ESD shoes. Static dissipative footwear is designed to reduce the accumulation of excess static electricity by conducting the body charge to the ground, while maintaining a high enough level of electrical resistance.

Suggested industries that would benefit from ESD flooring and footwear include laboratories, clean rooms, hospitals, utility plants, high-tech manufacturing, car manufacturing and plastics, just to name a few.

What We Offer…

To offset potential damages from ESD, Ground Zero offers a variety of protective footwear:

  • Sporty:  We offer a variety of high-quality conductive, static dissipative & regular athletic oxfords and sneakers.  Models include steel toe and comfortable padding.
  • Casual: These casual shoes include conductive or static dissipative models for business casual or dressy environments. They feature steel toe design as well as comfortable padding.
  • Unisex: We also have formal or sporty styles for both men & women in slip-ons, clean room shoes or boat shoes.
  • Boots & Hikers: If you’re looking for work boots with weatherproof qualities, we have those, too!

Bottom Line: ESD Shoes will help the flow of electrons built up on the body choose a path to the ground rather than a destructive and potentially costly path toward your electronics or work environment!

Contact us today for more information;  we would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider.

07 Jul

Are ESD shoes and Conductive shoes the same thing?

 

Q:

Are ESD shoes and Conductive shoes the same thing?

A: There are two types of ESD shoes, Static Dissipative and Static Conductive.

The Static Conductive shoe will guarantee a combined resistance of personnel and footwear of less than 1.0E6 Ohms.  I have a pair of Static Conductive shoes that when I’m standing on a static conductive flooring system (2.5E4 Ω to 1.0E6 Ω), my combined resistance from my body through the ESD footwear and through the ESD conductive flooring system to electrical ground or earth is less than 1.0E6 ohms per DoD 4145.26-M, C6.4.7.5.1: “The maximum resistance of a body, plus the resistance of conductive shoes, plus the resistance of the floor to the ground system shall not exceed 1,000,000 ohms total”… “The contractor can set the maximum resistance limits for the floor to the ground system and for the combined resistance of a person’s body plus the shoes, as long as the total resistance does not exceed 1,000,000 ohms.”

This Static Conductive shoe is typically used for electrical safety requirements for facilities that deal with explosive environments such as ordinance, munitions, explosive powders, flammable liquids, etc.  This is outside of the realm of ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007 and MIL-HDBK-263B.

If you’re goal is the protection of static sensitive devices, then Static dissipative shoes on a static conductive flooring system or a static dissipative flooring system will suffice so long as the combined resistance of personnel, footwear, and flooring to electrical or earth ground is less than 3.5E7 Ω as per ANSI/ESD STM97.1-2006.  In that case, a good static dissipative shoe will be more than 1.0E6 or a meg ohm, but the resistance will probably be less than 35 Meg ohms.  The best way to measure the footwear is to have personnel wear them for at least 10 minutes prior to going to the tester and checking for pass/fail low/fail high, as that’s the most practical way to test them.  You can measure the resistance of the shoe from insole to outsole, but they aren’t used that way on the ESD flooring system.  The ESD shoe relies on sweat from the personnel that wears them.

My combined resistance from my body, through my Static Conductive C4327 (men’s) or C437 (woman’s) shoes and through a static conductive floor to electrical/earth ground is about 7.0E5 Ω.  My combined resistance from my body through my Static Dissipative C4341 shoes and through a static conductive floor to electrical/earth ground is about 1.6E6 Ω.

I hope this answers your questions.  Please comment.

Thank you very much, Pat

Static Conductive shoe C4327 Resistance per ANSI/ESD STM97.1-2006

Static Conductive shoe C4327 Resistance per ANSI/ESD STM97.1-2006

0708090842

0708090845

Static Dissipative shoe C4341

Static Dissipative shoe C4341

18 Jun

We don't need no stinking wrist straps, do we?

Q: I have read the White Paper 1: A Case for Lowering Component Level HBM/MM ESD Specifications and Requirements and found the ESD Control Programs and Resulting Data (Chapter 1, Page 20-23) particularly interesting.

Assuming a production environment with ESD flooring, footwear (and clothing), by the time a person walks to a workstation and sits down, the voltage of this persons should not exceed 500V (or even 100V as seen in Figure 3). That would mean even a seated operator in this case would not need to wear wrist strap, that theory would be correct right? After sitting down and this person sits on a stool (feet off the floor) with resistance to floor < 1.0x10exp9ohms, any HBM risk would be further reduced wouldn’t it?

A: Hello ****.  Nice try.  Even if you have an ESD flooring system and even if you have ESD footwear and even if you have an ESD task chair with ESD casters or an ordinary task chair with an ESD chair cover (very effective as well), ESD smock on… you STILL have to wear the wrist strap when seated at an ESD workstation.

The only time, per ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007 page 4, 8.2 Personnel Grounding, that personnel in the EPA (ESD Protected Area) should be without a wrist strap is when doing standing or walking about operations, and then two conditions must be met;
·         “When the total resistance of the system (from the person, through the footwear and flooring to the grounding / Equipotential bonding system) is less than 3.5E7 Ω…”
·         “When the total resistance of the system (from the person, through the footwear and flooring to the grounding / Equipotential bonding system) is greater than 3.5E7 Ω and less than 1.0E9 Ω and the BVG is less than 100 v per 97.2…”

This is what is said about seated personnel:

“When personnel are seated at ESD protective workstations, they shall be connected to the grounding / Equipotential bonding system via a wrist strap system.”

Hope this helps.   I guess you could say redundancy is good in the realm of ESD.  It’s the weak link in the chain that will cause an ESD event.  If someone lifts their ESD footwear from the ESD flooring system while seated, they can tribocharge to above 100 volts.  It takes only 0.3 seconds of charge time to exceed 20.20 requirements.  If personnel is seated and getting up to go to break, it seems best to stand up, remove the wrist strap from the wrist, carefully set it down and walk away from the ESD workstation.  Worst case is to take the wrist strap off while still seated, set it down, put your hand on the ESD workstation and near ESDS devices, then stand up out of the task chair before leaving the work station.  Under proper conditions and with good bench mats, clean ESD floors, ESD task chairs, etc. in place, no ESD event.  The problem with ESD events is that we cannot see, hear, feel them.

The only alternative to not wearing a wrist strap while seated may be the used of a smock with a grounding coil cord attached to it.  You can see the footnotes on the 20.20 document at the bottom of page 4 for further details.

 We adhere to and meet or exceed requirements put forth in ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007 or IEC 61340-5-1, which assumes a target HBM of 100 volts and less.

05 May

Why 3.5E7 Ohms limit for flooring/footwear?

Q: Does anybody know the reason behind the upper limit resistance (3,5×10E7Ohms)of a grounding system (personnel+conductive shoes+conductive flooring)? Why not 1×10E8Ohms?
We have tried many waxes and all of them either give an overall reading for the system that is barely, when it is, within the limits above (IEC 61340-5-1 Table 1 – Note 2.

A: That reading is for ANSI/ESD STM97.1-2006 Floor Materials and Footwear- Resistance Measurement in Combination with a person.

So make sure you’re measuring a clean spot on the floor, someone wearing good clean heel grounders, sole grounders, or static dissipative shoes with one probe from a megger in the palm of their hand to earth or machine ground and the voltage on the meter set for 100 volts, as the resistance is greater than 1.0E6 ohms. Now if they fail this test and are less than 1.0E9 ohms, then they pass if they generate less than 100 volts as per ANSI/ESD STM97.2-2006 Floor Materials and Footwear- Voltage Measurement in Combination with a person.

Sorry so long for the response time.

Q2: Many thanks for you help.
What you are actually saying, if I understand it correctly, is that “if the combined resistance of an operator wearing whatever shoes over a a conductive flooring is greater than 1 x 3,5E7Ohms he will generate more than 100 Volts” and
currently in many electronic plants static generation above 100 Volts is not tolerated.

A2: No, that’s not what I’m saying.  I’m saying, as per ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007, that if you fail the < 3.5E7 ohms test, you may pass the less than 100 volts test and still be compliant to 20.20
 
Look on table 2 of page 4 of 20.20 and you’ll see what I mean.
 
Let me know if that helps.

 

ADD: I guess what needs to be understood with 20.20-2007 is that the < 100 volts and the < 1.0E9 Ohms still stands as well.  But if you’re testing per 97.1 and you get >3.5E7 ohms, then you can still pass 20.20-2007 if you have < 1.0E9 ohms per 97.1 AND < 100 volts per 97.2.

If you go to the table 2 chart on page 4 of 20.20-2007, it makes more sense.

09 Apr

Where to place the strap on a heel or sole grounder

Q: Do the heel strap cords need to be placed inside the sock i.e. between skin and sock or can the cord be outside the sock i.e. between sock and shoe? Is this specified in any ESD documentation? If so, which standard?

A: I like this question because I used to always put the strap between my foot (skin) and the sock, aka stuff it into my sock and under my heel.  I later came to find that this wasn’t necessary.

I don’t believe it’s mentioned in any ESDA standards, perhaps in ESD SP9.2-2003 Footwear-Foot Grounders Resistive.  But Foot Grounders are checked on a combo tester hopefully before you enter the EPA and if you pass and get a green light, you’re good to go.  I’m seeing instructions to say the strap is to go “inside the shoe or sock”, so…

MIL-HDBK-263B Section 40.1.1 Personnel ground strap  on page 100 says, “Personnel handling ESDS items should wear a skin-contact wrist, leg or ankle ground strap.”  So this would imply skin contact, but I found it’s not necessary.  If personnel wears cotton socks, the sweat and salt in our body make ESD shoes work, so thusly, the strap can go outside the sock and on the shoe’s conductive insole.  Be sure to lay the strap across the heel and not just across the arch if you do it this way.

So just put the strap between your sock and shoe insole and use your combo tester or test yourself from palm to earth ground and see that you’re reading less than 3.5E7 Ω per ANSI/ESD STM97.1-2006 Floor Materials and Footwear.  If you feel more comfortable putting it between the sock and skin, that’s fine too.

I find it to be more comfortable, convenient, and hygenetically sound to place it between the sock and insole as well.  If there’s any mention of this to this detail elsewhere, it’s unbeknownst to me.

17 Mar

Should ESD shoes, heel grounders be worn outside?

Q: Is it ok to wear ESD shoes or heel, toe, or sole grounders outside?

A: No.  MIL-HDBK-263B Appendix 1 page 101 40.1.2 states, “Conductive shoes, shoe covers, or heel grounders should be used to discharge personnel on conductive floors. These items should only be worn in the ESD protected areas and should be kept clean so that contaminants do not inhibit their conductive interface with the floor.”

So, to protect your investment, for good house keeping and maintenance, longevity of the ESD personal equipment, just don them before going into the EPA and take them off when you leave.

Do this and keep them clean (vacuum inside of shoes weekly and maybe clean outsoles and grounders with soapy water once a week) and you’ll get more wear out of them and they’ll be more effective.

26 Feb

Can ESD Wax be applied to bring back dissipative properties?

Q: Into our manufacturing area we have a dissipative floor installed, some areas has lost the dissipative properties, we are using ESD wax to correct those areas.

We are not having good results, we measure point to point and point to ground and these areas still measure insulative, my question is:
The ESD wax only works in floors with dissipative properties, or could it be applied on areas where the floor has lost the dissipation properties?”

A: Thanks for contacting us.  This is one of those questions that I like to pounce on, because it brings up many current misconceptions in the ESD flooring industry.  I’m going to answer your question about using chemicals to perhaps patch up certain areas in your flooring system, but I’m going to reach beyond that question and give a comparison of the ESD flooring system vs an otherwise non-ESD flooring system with an ESD sealer applied to it.  We supply both options here, by the way.  I hope you find what you need here and that this response helps guide you in your application.
Read More

26 Jan

What is the importance of using ESD Footwear on ESD Floor?

Q. What is the importance of having the personnel within an EPA to wear ESD footwear on an ESD Flooring system?

A. Thanks for the inquiry. It was good speaking with you earlier. You had stated that you had concerns about the grounding of your flooring system and my first question to you was about the use of ESD footwear. I believe that you had stated that not everyone was using esd footwear.

You pose a situation here that needs to be addressed as a top priority at all levels of ESD Awareness for every client that we come into contact with. I don’t mean to over-simplify this but I am seeing a common trend in the ESD industry; your ESD system is only as strong as the weakest link in the chain. Another way to say this is; If you buy a Plasma TV, it needs to come with a power cord and you need to plug that in. Read More