ESD film is a thin plastic sheet that can be applied to the surface of electronic components i.e. printed circuit boards (PCBs) or used as a secondary packaging material. The film provides electrical protection and plays an important role in preventing electrical shock. ESD stands for electrostatic discharge, which refers to the phenomenon of electricity building up on human bodies or insulative surfaces and causing disruptive discharges. This phenomenon can damage circuitry, especially that of electronic products, such as PCs and mobile devices. One way manufacturers guard against this danger is through the use of ESD film.
In this article we will explore the different types of ESD films, what they are used for, their key benefits and why businesses use them.
Preserving electronics and protecting them against static damage is paramount in effective ESD control. This is where ESD packaging film can help! The correct type of ESD film will ensure longevity and maintain the efficiency of electronic devices. There are various types of ESD film such as pink anti static film and static shielding film. Some films will protect electronics against dust and moisture accumulation and others will protect against physical damage and static discharge (ESD). As most electronics are vulnerable to static electricity, it is crucial that ESD film is used to protect these when handling, storing or transporting static sensitive devices (SSDs).
The 7 most common types of ESD films, which we will be talking about in this article, are the following:
There are various advantages of using ESD film, here are several:
1) ESD films can be customised to any size, thickness, printing solution or colour you require.
2) ESD films protects products against dust accumulation
3) ESD films safeguard the product against scratches to a good extent during transit
4) ESD films are the ideal packaging solution for long journey transportation
Keep reading below to learn more about each of these ESD films.
Pink film, also commonly known as antistatic lay flat tubing, is a type of ESD packaging material that is used to safely wrap non-electrostatic-sensitive products used in the electronics industry i.e. instruction manuals, nuts and bolts. The film is typically manufactured from a durable polythene and coated with an anti static coating. Its anti static coating allows the film to safely come into close proximity to static-sensitive electronics. One characteristic that distinguishes pink film to other types of film packaging is its red-tinted polythene colour – often described as pink. This colour helps to inform those working in an Electrostatic Protected Area (EPA) that the material can safely be used. It is important to note that pink anti static film does not protect static-sensitive components against electrostatic charge (ESD).
Antistatic film is specially developed to help eliminate static charge build-up, mitigating the risk of ESD damage and creating a static-free work area. Static charge build-up typically occurs when two surfaces make contact with one another and cause friction; this is known as tribocharging. In addition, reducing the risk of static damage to valuable electronic components can help to retain their performance and life-span, saving businesses money annually. Most pink layflat tubing is 75 microns thick which provides good scratch protection for the contents inside. Film pink packaging has a typical surface resistance of less than 10^(10) Ohms per metre.
Products can be placed in the tubing and cut to size. Once the tubing is cut to the required length, it can be sealed. This process enables the best fit whilst helping to reduce wastage.
Conductive black film has been developed to effectively dissipate static charges while preventing electrical tribocharge. Its tough, puncture-resistant material makes it a suitable choice for the handling, shipping and storage of static sensitive electronics and other items. An easy way to distinguish conductive film from other types of packaging film is its notable appearance; opaque and black in colour.
Conductive black film is a cost-effective packaging solution that is commonly used in the electronics and chemical industries. Many businesses opt for this type of packaging material due to its abundance of benefits. Here are several advantages of conductive film:
You will find that most black, carbon-impregnated polyethylene film is free of silicones, amines and heavy metals and compliant to RoHS regulations. They are often chosen over static shielding film due to their lower cost.
Conductive films are particularly used for medical trays and packaging. This is to help avoid static shock in operating rooms.
Static shielding film, also known as ESD protection film, provides the uppermost protection to valuable electronics. This type of film is an effective packaging solution for the handling, storage and transportation of ESD sensitive electronic devices. They are widely used in the electronics industry for storing printed circuit boards (PCBs), IC integrated circuits, hard drives and CDs.
Static shielding film typically has a four-layer structure: static dissipative coating, polyester, aluminium shield and static dissipative polyethylene. The static dissipative layer offers a low charging outer-surface. The polyester layer of the film works with the metal layer to provide a Faraday Cage. In addition, the aluminium layer helps to suppress any electric fields, while the polyethylene layer prevents electrical tribocharge.
As for the properties, most static shielding films have a typical thickness of 75 microns thick to offer good scratch protection for the electronics inside. When looking to purchase static shielding film, you would want to make sure the film has a good thickness of around 75 microns. While thickness is one factor, the transparency of the film is another. Static shielding film is notable for its semi-transparent appearance. The semi-transparency enables for easy identification of the contents inside the ESD protection film.
Static shielding film can often be confused with anti static film or pink film. A helpful tip to differentiate the two is to think of the colour. Static shielding film is semi-transparent (which can appear as grey or silver in colour) and anti static film / pink film is typically pink or red in colour. Despite this, it’s always best recommended to check the product’s specifications so you can be sure of the electrical properties. See Bondline’s static shield film material.
Moisture barrier film offers exceptional protection for static sensitive and moisture sensitive electronic devices, particularly SMT (Surface Mount Technology) products. This type of packaging film helps to protect electronics from moisture and static damage during storage and transit e.g. integrated circuits or PCBs. The film is typically utilised in industries with humid environments.
Although static shielding film and moisture barrier film are both silver/grey in colour, their transparencies set them apart from each-other. In contrast to static shielding film, moisture barrier film is opaque and light-tight in appearance. This ensures the contents cannot be seen from the outer-layer, providing an extra layer of operational security.
Generally, moisture barrier film is constructed with three layers: static dissipative polyester, aluminium shield and static dissipative polyethylene. The aluminium layer offers discharge shielding, blocks moisture and minimises the penetration of electric fields and electrostatic discharges (ESDs).
Moisture barrier film is typically 100 microns thick (4 mils) to provide good protection and flexibility for the contents inside. There are many benefits for using moisture barrier film, including the following:
While the above four types of ESD films are more commonly used, there are several other types of ESD packaging films that are utilised for different reasons.
Low-charging, anti static bubble film or wrap is an excellent packaging choice for the protection of electrical products. Many businesses utilise the film bubble as a secondary packaging material to maximise air retention and cushion the products against shock and vibrations. As with anti static film, bubble film is pink in colour – an easy way to identify anti-static bubble film to regular bubble film.
ESD anti-static polyimide film is another type of ESD packaging film that can be used to protect electronic products. Often, the film material is processed into anti-static high-temperature adhesive tapes. An example of this type of tape can be seen below.
This particular film is high-temperature insulating which is ideal for class F and H insulation. Many industries such as aerospace, military, automotive, medical and electronics use polyimide film for its superior thermal resistance and electrical insulating properties. They are widely used in the electronics industry for flexible cables and as an insulating film on magnet wire.
Due to the film’s electrical isolation ability and large range of temperature stability, the anti-static polyimide film is mostly used in electronic manufacturing as an insulation and protection layer on ESD sensitive and fragile components.
The film is top coated with an ESD coating to ensure low electrostatic discharge at unwind or removal. Its high temperature stability makes the film a reliable choice for insulation in applications subjected to various types of environmental stresses. There are many benefits of using anti-static polyimide film – here are some of the top benefits:
In contrast to the ESD films listed above, this type of film is used as part of an EPA stationery kit. ESD laminating film, also called ESD laminate pouch, typically comes in the form of sheets. This type of packaging material is used for the storage of paper documents i.e. instruction manuals, allowing you to contain and organise all loose sheets of paper within a sealed sheet. Opaque ESD laminating film is resistant against chemicals and provides full protection against static charge. This film is usually used in static control environments (EPAs), particularly in the electronics and Cleanroom industries. Many Cleanroom companies opt for laminate sheets to avoid the extra cost of Cleanroom paper which can be expensive! Some laminating sheets work with standard office laminating machines.
Bondline Electronics – trusted experts in anti-static packaging since 1986.
It’s important that packaging is reliable and offers good protection for the contents inside the film: that’s where Bondline can help. Bondline provides various types of reliable, ESD packaging film including static shielding film, pink anti static film, moisture barrier film, laminating film, bubble film and black conductive film.
Our films can be tailored to any size, thickness or printing you may require. Our pink film rolls can specially be made in additional colours to suit your liking.
Our team is always on hand to provide their expert advice. If you have a query regarding ESD film or would like some help with choosing the right type, please don’t hesitate to get in touch!
Contact us today to discuss cost-effective ESD film solutions on 01793 511000 or fill in the form below.
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