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29 Jun

Custom Matting: A Ground Zero Specialty

Custom Matting-A Ground Zero Specialty

If you’ve ever worked with an X-Acto Knife or a box cutter, you know there are some dangers, just as there are with any knife. Remember, pay attention to what you’re doing! Never use a dull blade! Cut away from your body!

And of course, wear cut resistant gloves. Yes, we know you’re a man, and men don’t need certain protections… Okay, so both genders have their issues, but this one rule is the one we most often neglect – and that neglect leads to injuries.

You’re being careful, cutting along, everything’s going smoothly and SLICE!

Yes, that’s right, you’ve just sliced open your finger, there’s blood everywhere – you have to go to the emergency room and get stitches.

It kind of ruins your day.

OSHA reports that nearly 40 percent of all injuries attributed to manual workshop tools in the US involve knives with retractable blades.

And according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, around 250,000 serious hand, finger and wrist laceration occur annually in the private industry.

So that scenario we described above?  It’s far more common than you might think. And, in the interest of your safety and our bottom line, we took action.

A Cut Above

So what did Ground Zero do to help insure your workplace safety?

In an earlier post, we talked about ESD mats – what they are and how they work, but today we’d like to get… a little personal, if that’s okay with you.

Most table and bench mats are built with either two or three layers. The top layer is resistant to chemicals, solder and flux, making it usable and easy to clean. The bottom layer is either a durable anti-skid surface and/or an adhesive backing, both to ensure safety on the work area.

Three-layer mats have the added bonus of a conductive scrim layered in the center that can coordinate with your personal wrist-strap constant monitors.

As you can imagine, all of these layers make the mats a little thicker than cardboard or just a vinyl mat. And, as you know, when cutting with an X-Acto knife or box cutter, the thicker the material you’re trying to cut is, the more prone the blade is to slipping, leading to that ER visit.

So to help promote the safety of our customers’ workplaces, we decided to offer custom cut matting.

That’s right, any of the mats we sell can be custom cut to your specifications (with a small margin of +/-1/8th of an inch). Plus, each and every custom cut mat comes with an ISO certification showing it has been tested and met the latest professional standards.

So which would you prefer, a trip to the emergency room, or the ability to get to work on with your new ESD mat right out of the box – with all of your fingers intact?

Oh, and finally: a little safety advice, whether you want it or not. When using a knife or blade of any sort, stay sharp! Follow all of those rules we mentioned above, ‘cause we all know a lot of us do ignore them and they were created for our safety.

We would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider; contact us today for more information

25 May

What Are the Standards for Electrostatic Protection?

Standards for Electrostatic Protection

So, you’ve just been tasked with building or designing your first Electrostatic Protection Area (EPA). You’ve started doing your research, but there are so many choices, from so many different companies. Suppliers, manufacturers, third party providers… If only there was some established standard for judging the efficacy and reliability of all those pieces and parts.

Well, you’re in luck! In 2007, the American National Standards Institute (ANSI) in cooperation with ElectroStatic Discharge Association (ESDA) released a unified set of standards for the design, implementation and maintenance of ElectroStatic Discharge control programs.

In the midst of World War I, five engineering organizations recognized the need to develop standards that could eliminate confusion and could be adhered to across all disciplines, without regard to politics, profits or personal preferences. These groups reached out to the U.S. Departments of War, Navy, and Commerce to form an impartial third party non-profit organization, then known as the American Engineering Standards Committee.

Following the war, the organization spent the next 20 years establishing several safety protocols still observed today, like eye protection, hard hat standards and in-house electrical safety while at the same time reaching out to other similarly tasked international organizations.

When the United States entered World War II, the organization, which would eventually come to be known as ANSI, helped to accelerate the war effort and productivity, created more effective quality control measures, as well as helping to advance photography, radio, and even the development of Velcro.

In 1970’s, ANSI established a public review process and began the herculean effort of moving the United States to the metric system. While the general public never really connected with the metric system, the effort did bring ANSI to the forefront of private sector companies who discovered standardization was a way to stay more competitive in an increasingly global economy.

With the advancement of personal computers in the late 70’s and early 80’s, engineers at several companies recognized a need for more understanding of electrostatic discharge and its prevention. They formed the ESD Association, a non-profit, voluntary professional organization that for almost 35 years has sponsored educational programs and developed standards to help eliminate losses due to electrostatic discharges.

Together, leaning on the historical experience of both military and several commercial organizations, ANSI and ESDA developed the definitive standard for ESD protection, the very cleverly named ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007.

Covering about every conceivable area of ElectroStatic Discharge, the ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007 utilizes both the human body model and the machine model to provide a broad set of guidelines for ESD protection.

The Human Body Model is the military standard that defines and rates the vulnerability of an electronic device to the ESD generated by a human being touching it. The Machine Model works similarly, except it rates the vulnerability of a device receiving a machine discharge into ground. It was originally developed by car manufacturers as their plants moved to more mechanized production technology.  The Human Body Model is about 10 times more sensitive than the Machine Model.

There is a lot to explore in the ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007 guidelines, but for the purpose of this primer, the document highlights 3 fundamental ESD control principles:

  1. All conductors should be grounded. This includes the personnel and the surfaces they are working on.  We recommend, at a minimum, personal grounding wrist straps, ESD table or bench mats, and a common ground cord.
  2. Necessary non-conductors – certain circuit board materials, device packaging, etc. – cannot lose their electrostatic charge by being grounded and appropriate precautions must be implemented.
  3. Static protective materials, such as ESD shielding bags or ESD totes and boxes must be utilized when transporting sensitive electronics outside a properly prepared EPA.

There are slightly less stringent standards that apply to floors and bench mats, but ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007 is the highest and most comprehensive guideline so far. So when you’re shopping for the parts needed to establish your EPA area, always look for companies that maintain that standard in their products and services.

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

29 Mar

The Truth About 11 Myths of Electrostatic Discharge

11 Myths of Electrostatic Discharge

Would it surprise you to know that a good portion of our modern world would be unable to function without the help of electrostatic discharges (ESD’s)?

No one seems to know quite how it happened, but in 1984, Scott M. Kunen applied for a patent for a “touch controlled switch” – a device he had developed to allow lamps to be turned on or off with the touch of a human hand.

Little did he know that less than a decade later, computer companies would begin adapting his technology, covering it with a variety of static controlling sheaths, creating the capacitive-touch screen, the basis for all modern smart phones, tablets and touch screen laptops.

So, here’s the truth about the myths of electrostatic discharge.

Myths About Electrostatic Discharge

Myth #1 – All ESD is bad.

The truth is, most people use ESD everyday to make phone calls, send text messages, and create emails. The touch controlled switch and the capacitive-touch screen both operate by transmitting small ESD charges from your body into the devices to signal turning a light on, or the letters or numbers desired.

Myth #2 – Electrostatic Discharge is a modern day problem.

Believe it or not, ESD and necessary precautions to prevent it are older than the United States. In the 1400’s, forts and places that stored or produced explosives, gun powder, and even sawdust could fall prey to horrible accidents, so early forms of ESD control were developed and implemented.

Except, of course, when the good guys needed to blow up the bad guys’ stash in a Hollywood movie.

Myth #3 – ESD problems are really quite rare.

In truth, because of the extremely low levels of ESD required to damage small electronics and the fact that damage isn’t always visible or catastrophic, we may never know just how prevalent ESD events are.

Visible static sparks generated by our bodies have to build up between 500-1000 volts, and it takes twice that charge to be felt.  Most sensitive electronics can be damaged by 100 volts or less.

And even if the device continues to function as expected, its life expectancy may be severely diminished and in some cases, latent failure can occur, causing even more damage.

Since we cannot fully prevent or even detect an ESD event, all precautions should be taken to avoid an accidental discharge.

Myth #4 – Discharging fingers and tools before using them is sufficient precaution against ESD mishaps.

Unless you are able to hold your body AND tool perfectly still, you can (and often do) build up a replacement charge that can be discharged into your electronics.

As mentioned above, because of the negligible amount of charge necessary to potentially damage the sensitive parts, you have no way of knowing you are not transmitting a dangerous ESD. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

We recommend that you always use personal wrist straps, dissipative mats and grounding cords for the best chance of circumventing ESD problems.

Myth #5 – You have to touch an item to transmit an ESD to it.

As mentioned above, it takes very little for the human body to build up an electrostatic discharge. Just the movement of lifting your foot off the ground can generate up to 1,500 volts.

And that generated charge can easily leap from your hand to your unprotected device inches away.

Stay tuned next week for Part 2 of The Truth About 11 Myths of Electrostatic Discharge…

We would love to be your full service, seamless ESD solution provider, no matter what your size or budget.  Contact us today for more information.

05 Dec

People are a great generator of static electricity

Q: How does ESD Gloves, Aprons and Bunny Suit help for static discharge? WIll it not be mandatory to wear the wrist band, footwear and heel strap along with it?

A: People are a great generator of static electricity, among other things. The ESD gloves, aprons, etc. enable you to work and interface with sensitive components and equipment while protecting them from an ESD event as well as other things like contamination from human skin, street clothes, dirt, dust, etc. It will be mandatory for personnel ground to wear a wrist strap when in seated operations in a manufacturing environment or in the field. For personnel ground in an environment where you are standing or walking about, you do NOT have to wear a wrist strap if you have sufficient ESD footwear in conjunction with an ESD flooring system. The above requirements are per ANSI/ESD S20.20-1999 Table 1.