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12 Apr

What Are ESD Mats & How Do They Work?

Static Electricity and ESD Matting

Have you ever been working in your garage and accidentally made contact with a metal part of an ungrounded electrical appliance, like a box fan or a badly wired junction box? The jolt you receive wakes you up faster than a cup of coffee or one of those 5-hour energy drinks. Now imagine what that could do to sensitive electronics—devices and circuit boards with a much lower resistance than your skin.

Considering just the physical activity of moving your arms and legs can build up relatively large electrostatic discharges (ESD) that we may never notice, there’s very little activity that isn’t dangerous to electronic components – even their assembly. But there are steps you can take and tools that have been developed to protect your sensitive electronics. One simple, popular tool is an antistatic or ESD mat.

How Does an ESD Mat Work?

Antistatic or ESD Mats have a high electrical resistance, which allows the electrostatic discharge to “flow” across the surface of the mat at a slow rate – enough to get the ESD away from your electronics, while at the same time neutralizing what little charge inevitably does build up.

The simplest form of an ESD mat is simply that – a tabletop mat, about the size of a placemat, that you use on a desk, table or any flat surface. They typically connect with a personal grounding wrist strap – adding additional protection by drawing any ESD charge away from the person working on the device.

ESD mats also use a common ground to draw the electrostatic discharge away from offending areas. Without that ground, the mat could, in theory, protect the item being worked on at first, but would then transfer the ESD to the very next thing it comes into contact with – the next item, the person holding it (and then to the item), or even right back onto the item it was originally meant to protect.

For larger workspaces, or dedicated ESD workstations, you can invest in rolls of ESD matting or custom-sized mats. You can even get ESD matting with built-in static control monitors and self-adhesive backing.  Just make sure, regardless of the size or quantity used, that all of the mats are grounded.

You can also increase protection as well as worker safety by investing in ESD flooring mats, which not only act as further neutralization of potential electrostatic discharge but also can provide cushioning, easing the fatigue of the person standing while working on the electronic devices. The hazard of slippery floors is also alleviated by an ESD flooring mat.

Bear in mind that not all ESD matting is tested to the same level.  We recommend checking to make sure the mats you are buying are properly assessed to ensure you are getting the protection you need, and ideally, include ISO certification for your company’s protection.

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

05 Dec

Two layer and three layer ESD PVC Mats

Q: What is the difference betwen two layer and three layer ESD PVC Mat, and which one will be advisable for flooring?

A: We have a variety of bench and flooring mats and runners. The two and three layer mats would generally refer to our bench or table mats. Our Duro-Stat line is actually a homogenous vinyl ESD matting with great mechanical and electrical properties. But most BM’s are of the two-layer or three-layer type. The top layer would give the mats its resistance to chemicals, resistance to solder, flux, and the ability to keep it clean. The backing would typically promote an anti-skid and durable surface. The three-layer mats are going to have a conductive scrim center layer and work well with most wrist strap constant monitors.

For floor mats and runners, we’ve got our UltraCon Floor Mat which is made of highly conductive rubber. Your flooring mats and runners are going to be typically homogenous and don’t have layers per say. Our Tough One! line is made of embossed homogenous solid vinyl. The exception being our Anti-Fatigue II line, this static dissipative mat is a vinyl mat with a foamed vinyl backing. Our No-Slip II is made of a corrugated slip-resistant vinyl.