There are many different factors to consider when constructing an ESD-safe cleanroom, workplace or manufacturing establishment. What would be the clothes that are appropriate for use in an antistatic workplace? Let’s find out! Different kinds of fabric present an ESD threat in a workplace, including the material used to make the carpeting, employee uniforms, and cleaning and pantry supplies such as workstation towels. Many companies commonly use a high volume of antistatic clothing in order for them to ensure the lowest possible level of an accidental electrostatic discharge onto a static sensitive device.
Keep on reading this article, as we will let you know more about Anti Static Clothing and the types of Anti Static Clothing you should use.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) safe clothing is specifically designed to prevent static charges that pass from a person, or their clothing, into the surrounding area. They are worn whenever static damage is a concern and are common practice in a number of industries. Some of the most common types of ESD-safe clothing you’ll find are smocks, coveralls and boots.
Most antistatic clothing is made from polyester or cotton and then embedded with a line of carbon fibre. These fibres effectively create a Faraday Cage around the body of the person wearing the item of clothing. This shields and dissipates any charges generated from the clothing that could otherwise damage all the devices that are sensitive to static electricity.
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) safe clothing is generally manufactured from manmade fabrics as, unlike natural materials, their fibres won’t break down. This helps to minimise static and create a safer working environment. All ESD safe clothing must meet the Standards for ESD clothing set by the IEC-61340-1-5 International Standard in order to properly protect the employees or person and the surrounding environment.
ESD-safe shoes or anti-static heel straps are the ideal types of protection for the feet against electrostatics. We’ll give you an example of why it is important: if someone walks over a carpet and then touches a metal doorknob or handle, it will create a small electronic voltage that is exchanged across. Normal shoes with plastic soles cannot discharge this voltage. This is because plastic is an insulator. ESD safety shoes must be worn, especially in electrical and engineering areas where there are very sensitive electronic devices. It is also important to wear them wherever there is a danger of an unexpected explosion to your workplace.
ESD-safe gloves for ESD protected areas protect the hands and fingers when sensitive components or devices are being handled and thus enable a safe working environment. This is very important as we statically charge ourselves continually and gradually by moving about and the voltage is discharged as soon as we subsequently touch conductive materials.
If the charge jumps over to any static sensitive electronic components or materials, catastrophic damage or even a complete loss of function is possible. This in turn could cause a latent defect.
A latent defect is difficult to identify since the device (with the damaged component) may be partially degraded yet still continue to perform its intended function. However, the operating life of the device may be reduced dramatically. You may only notice that there is a problem when the device suddenly stops working. Ultimately, a latent defect could result to a premature system failure which could prove extremely hazardous and very costly. If you work with static-sensitive devices or components on a regular basis, you must use anti-static products in a static controlled environment!
If you are wearing antistatic gloves, though, the static is discharged whenever an Earthed surface is touched. It is recommended to wear an ESD-safe wrist strap in conjunction with anti-static gloves to enable maximum ESD protection.
ESD-safe work coats and tunics also hinder charging and remove any charge thanks to a grid of conductive fibres that are woven into the fabric. They are mostly worn in medical areas, cleanrooms (microelectronics) and hospital laboratories.
The ESD-safe wrist strap is connected via a grounding cord which is then attached to the Earthed metal part of a bonding point. It is used in all areas where electrostatic discharge can cause damage, for example, where components are being fitted onto a printed circuit board or where a computer with highly integrated circuits is being assembled. Anti-static wrist straps are mostly used at workstations where mobile work is required. Overall, they are an essential grounding system for many industries.
Keeping your employees safe and protected is imperative for any employer, from both morality and a business profitability perspective. Comfortable and safe workers are happier, and this will also improve their morale and productivity. Providing them with safety equipment to protect them from the dangers of electrostatic discharge can be hugely beneficial in regards to this.
Unlike normal clothing, which is made from high-insulating materials that cannot protect against ESD, ESD-safe clothing is made with specialist materials and fibres that help to dissipate a static charge to Earth. Depending on the ESD-safe garment you choose to purchase, ESD-safe garments will be made with a plethora of connective fibres that help to redirect ESD away from the worker’s skin and instead connect to the ground surroundings, thereby Earthing out the clothing and the worker; this protects the static sensitive components that the operator may be working on from any potential static damage.
Many people may ask why they should wear ESD-safe clothes, also known as antistatic smocks if they are already grounded and Earthed via an ESD-safe wrist strap. This is due to the common misconception of people believing that if they were wearing a wrist-strap then any charge from their clothes or person would be grounded to Earth. Let’s take this as an example: if your regular (high-insulating) clothes were to generate a static charge, the charge could still disperse into the surrounding area and potentially onto a static sensitive device damaging it, despite wearing an ESD-safe wrist-strap. Additionally, If you were to accidentally brush against a static sensitive component or if you were to drop it onto yourself whilst wearing normal (high-insulating) clothes, a static charge could generate on your clothes and could transfer onto the static sensitive component, potentially damaging it. Wearing anti-static clothes can help to prevent static damage in the first place – a first line of defence! This is why it is important to wear the proper anti-static clothing.
Antistatic clothing is an important part of many electronic engineering and manufacturing companies, alongside health environments, laboratories, and precision engineering facilities. Despite sometimes not being industry-standard, ESD-safe clothing is very practical, especially for the electronics and engineering industries. Not only that, they also maximise full ESD protection which is crucial in highly sensitive environments such as microelectronics.
Bondline is a UK leading supplier and vast stockist – specialising in the production and distribution of high-quality ESD Products and Static control Equipment to the electronics manufacturing industry.
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Antistatic clothing should always be seen as a vital aid in ESD-protected areas. Bondline’s antistatic smocks are specifically designed to prevent damage to static sensitive electronic components that are being assembled or packaged within a protected area.
Protect yourself and your electronic components today by investing in our high-quality ESD-safe clothes. Additionally, contact us for our bespoke customisation service, or you may visit our website for more details at ESD Garments and Gloves | Bondline Electronics. Hope to see you soon!
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