A Trusted UK Supplier Of ESD Products Since 1986

Choosing The Right ESD Bag

Why Antistatic Bags Are Important In Manufacturing

Electrostatic discharge or ESD packaging comes in a variety of packaging containers such as static shielding bags, moisture barrier bags and antistatic bags. They are considered as one of the most important components in packing manufactured products such as electronic components and devices.

You might be wondering what an electrostatic discharge is. You’ll be surprised to know that you may have experienced it before when you touched certain objects. Components take in electric charges that tend to build up because of electrons coming into contact with each other. The build-up continues due to friction, contact, heat and pressure. These elements are not physically harmful to us but they are extremely detrimental to sensitive electronic items and semiconductors.

Why is electrostatic discharge not good for sensitive components? As you already know, electronics are composed of many tiny parts and these parts have limited ability to withstand temperature shifts and limited thermal mass. Electrostatic discharges can cause rapid temperature shifts that can overheat the electronic components. That is why ESD bags, protective packaging or anti static bags are essential, especially if you are a business trying to excel in the electronics industry.

So, if you deal with products that are related to electronics or if you own an electronics company, it is essential to invest in ESD bags for the protection of your product and the satisfaction of your customers. You have to keep in mind that even a single electrostatic discharge can bring about a lot of damage to your commodities.

ESD bags allow manufacturers to securely transport sensitive items from the production line to their intended destination. Without the proper ESD bags, the components or items are at risk for static exposure and may lead to an electrostatic discharge event. Not only will ESD packaging containers protect your sensitive items, but they can also help you save money too.

Modern-day companies are very much aware of the importance of using ESD packaging because they help protect the electronic devices that they need in their offices. Some industry experts even consider it as one of the best investments that business owners can take.

Nowadays, electrical equipment failure is commonplace and it happens regularly. In the past, proper solutions were not available but thanks to modern technology, we now have devices that are capable of providing static protection and control within our reach.

Antistatic bags are one of the most commonly used static control devices out there. You have probably seen it more than once in your workplace. They are frequently used to transport sensitive items such as hard drives, graphic cards, motherboards and RAM’s.

Did you know that it would cost more to replace or repair broken electronic devices as compared to protecting them while they are being transported to their final destination? That is the main purpose and usage of ESD bags. Aside from that, they also keep all information and data that are stored in these devices safe and secure. You can lose valuable data if you expose your devices to static shock, so to preserve important and sensitive data that helps you run your business, you should really consider using antistatic bags.

ESD packaging containers, such as antistatic bags, moisture barrier bags and static shielding bags, are some of the most important safety products used in manufacturing environments. These ESD packaging products allow us to safely transport items and components from the production line to their final destination. Without using the correct ESD packaging containers to store or transport static-sensitive components or devices, we would risk the chance of static exposure to these components or devices and potentially cause an ESD event. Want to know more about ESD? Click here.

Benefits of using antistatic bags

As we have mentioned earlier, anti-static bags are very beneficial for individuals and businesses because they help offices and manufacturers protect their electrical devices. On top of that, they are very affordable, especially if they are bought in bulk. Anti-static bags are specially designed to be simple and effective. They are capable of protecting expensive electronic devices and equipment safe by keeping them away from static discharge or keeping them from conducting it. These are just some of the benefits of anti-static bags.

How can you use these bags? Simply insert your RAM, graphic cards or other electronic devices inside and the bags will protect them from ESD. If you want full protection, you can invest in other products such as anti-static clothingwrist straps, mats and so much more. As soon as you take your electronic device out from the ESD bag, you must keep it inside an ESD proof area. Many have committed the mistake of placing hard disks on top of ESD bags. Always remember that only the inside of ESD bags is capable of protecting your electronic devices and prevent the buildup of static.

Bag Sourcing

When choosing a bag, investing in the least expensive bag may not provide the best results. Manufacturers should test their bags before shipping to ensure the quality is of a good standard. Always review the supplier’s material trace-ability, quality program and test standards.

Which ESD Bag Do You Need?

The aim of ESD protective packaging is to prevent a direct electrostatic discharge to the ESDS item contained within and allow for dissipation of charge from the exterior surface. Packaging material will also often provide mechanical protection and protection against contamination by dust or humidity.

Since some ESD bags share a similar nomenclature, it can be quite easy to select the wrong type of ESD bag. Each bag serves a different function when it comes to transporting ESD-sensitive products. Understanding each ESD bag’s purpose is crucial when trying to select the right one you need.

ESD-focused packaging is always classified in one of three levels, IEC 61340-5-1 defines these as the following:

  • Intimate packaging: this is packaging that can safely come into contact with static-sensitive components.
  • Proximity packaging: is packaging that can enclose (but not come into direct contact with) the product.
  • Secondary packaging: is packaging which can only be used for protection against physical damage during the shipping process.

When looking for an anti-static bag, you should look for the following properties:

  • Low charge generation properties.
  • Made in dissipative or conductive material for intimate contact.

Before purchasing a bag, you should take into consideration that some packaging materials may be humidity dependent and may have limited shelf life, some other may contaminate or shed particles that cause production-related problems (example: a too brittle hard foam).

Types of ESD Bags

Antistatic (Low Charge)

Use: Within the EPA for packing non-ESD sensitive items.

Cost: Low / inexpensive.

Appearance: Clear or tinted (pink, blue, green).

Material: Polyethylene mono or multilayer.

Characteristics: Rs 1 x 10^(10) to 1 x 10^(12) W    T1000 <2 sec at 50% rH, 22°C.

Shelf-life: Generally 1 year.

See Bondline’s antistatic bags.

Conductive

Use: Good degree of protection for many ESD sensitive items. Don’t use with powered devices.

Cost: Medium.

Appearance: Black.

Material: Polyethylene with carbon added.

Characteristics: Rs 1 x 10^(3) to 1 x 10^(5) W.

Shelf-life: More than 5 years.

Shielding

Use: For intimate packaging of all ESD sensitive items.

Cost: High.

Appearance: Metallised semi-transparent.

Material: Generally a vacuum deposited aluminium between layers of polyester and polyethylene film.

Characteristics: Shielding bags meet the two main requirements: “low charging” and “electrostatic discharge shielding barrier”.

Shelf-life: More than 2 years.

See Bondline’s static shielding bags and high shield pouches,

Moisture Barrier

Corrosion and thus moisture protection is becoming increasingly important, “Dry Packaging” is usually required for electronic devices that have to be placed into long term storage. To provide a complete protection of devices, one desiccant pack and one “Humidity Monitor Card” are inserted into the bag prior the vacuum sealing.

See Bondline’s moisture and metallised barrier bags.

When Should You Use An ESD Bag?

If you need to safely transport or store a product that is susceptible to electrostatic discharge then it should be packaged in a static-sensitive bag. The typical type of products that require ESD packaging include:

  •  Microchips.
  •  Motherboards.
  •  Graphic cards.
  •  Other forms of printed circuit boards.

You can also use antistatic bags to hold tools, safety equipment, manufacturing equipment, spare parts, and anything else that could potentially discharge onto a product. Ultimately, you would want to protect your workers, supplies, equipment and work environment by using bags that will minimise the risk of static discharge.

Metallised Shielding Bags (Silver In Colour)

If you are looking to safely store / pack electronic products like printed circuit boards which are prone to static damage, then we suggest you use a metallised shielding bag, also known as a static shielding bag. Metallised shielding bags can be an effective ‘Faraday Cage’, subject to the quality of material and physical condition. Due to their ‘Faraday Cage’ feature, these bags enable you to hold static sensitive components when they are to be handled outside of an Electrostatic Protected Area (EPA).

Despite their high cost, it is worth the investment as your static sensitive assemblies (such as printed circuit boards) require ESD protection. Otherwise, if you were to use incorrect packaging or low-quality bags, you could cause serious static damage to your electronic items. Sometimes, you won’t even realise the product is damaged until further down the line. It’s better to invest in the proper packaging so you don’t lose precious time and money.

Static Shielding Bags are generally constructed of a static-dissipative top coating, polyester and aluminium shield middle and static dissipative polyethylene bottom. This ensures full static protection. Alongside this, the bags are semi-transparent which allows you to identify the components inside. Usually you will find these bags with either a loc-top or an open-top opening. Either of these opening features are fine to use, it really depends on what you prefer. However, we would recommend that you use an ESD warning label to temporarily close open-top bags.

We offer two different bag features to suit your preference: Resealable loc-top and open top.

Loc-Top Resealable Open Top
Electrostatic Discharge Shielding Bags Bondline Static Shielding Bags 3

Bespoke sizes, thickness, printing and packaging solutions can be manufactured on request.

High Shield Cushion Pouch

Similar to a static shielding bag, high shield cushion pouches are excellent for protecting static sensitive devices from ESD and mechanical charge. These bags are manufactured from a three-layer metallised cushion material which is heat sealable. The bag’s construction consists of a polyester surface layer, aluminium shield, polyethylene, cushion and static dissipative centre layer and a polyethylene bottom layer. Unlike the static shielding bags, these bags have a flap which allows the bag to be closed by folding the seal flap onto the bag. Their light-tight packaging also ensures the contents cannot be seen from the outside; adding a layer of operational security. Their bubble-like material also helps to cushion the electronic items inside to protect them from any potential damage.

Ground Image High Shield Cushion Pouch Bondline

Bespoke sizes can be manufactured on request.

Moisture and Metallised Barrier Bags

If you’re looking for a bag that is strong, lightweight yet protects electronics such as SMDs from moisture and static damage, then a barrier bag is right for you. Additionally, if your business needs to safely transport Jedec Trays then barrier bags are a great option for this too since they are Jedec compliant. There is really not much of a difference between a moisture barrier bag and a metallised barrier bag, except that metallised barrier bags use slightly different materials and offer a more cost-effective solution. If the electronic components will be stored or transported in a humid environment, then a moisture and metallised barrier bag will help to protect these components from the humidity. When using these bags in a humid environment, make sure to use a humidity indicator card and desiccant bag. Desiccant filled pouches scavenge the remaining moisture from the bags interior which is entrapped by the desiccant. Humidity indicator cards report the effectiveness of the package upon decide use.

The bags are opaque and light-tight ensuring the contents cannot be seen from the outside; adding a layer of operational security. Their 4mil puncture-resistant and moisture-proof packaging has a flexible structure and is suitable for vacuum-sealing.

So how do barrier bags work? Dry devices are placed inside the barrier bag and the moisture laden air is evacuated. Each bag has a layer of aluminium that blocks the moisture.

The Metallised Barrier bag is composed of a static-dissipative top outer coating, static-dissipative polyester and aluminum shield inner layers and a static-dissipative polypropylene bottom layer. The Moisture Barrier bag, on the other hand, is composed of a static-dissipative polyester top outer coating, aluminum shield inner layer and a static-dissipative polyethylene bottom layer.

Moisture and metallised barrier bags have a similar structure to the metallised shielding bags. However, they are generally stronger than metallised shielding bags. They are usually used when barrier protection or maximum shielding protection is needed without transparency being an issue.

Moisture Barrier Bag Metallised Barrier Bag
Moisture Barrier Bags Moisture Barrier Bags 2

Bespoke sizes, thickness, printing and packaging solutions can be manufactured on request.

Antistatic Bags (Pink In Colour)

Antistatic bags are the only acceptable “plastic” bags in an EPA. They offer NO effective protection against a contact ESD. If you need to store or transport non-static sensitive components, e.g. nuts, bolts, paper etc, then an antistatic bag will be the right option to choose. Although these bags have no shielding ability, they do have a layer of anti-static coating. The material will not charge if rubbed in conjunction with other materials.

Antistatic bags are generally low in price. However, if you see an antistatic bag for a super low price, find out whether the bag comes from a reputable supplier which is known for stocking high quality bags. If not, the bag’s price is most likely too good to be true and won’t be the best quality. Remember, ordinary plastic bags can generate and hold static charges in excess of 10,000v. Never use an ordinary plastic bag in an Electrostatic Protected Area or near static sensitive items as this could cause some serious static damage. As with most bags, antistatic bags deteriorate with time and wear – monitoring them is vital.

Likewise with static shielding bags, antistatic bags are generally available in either loc-top or open-top. Just remember that if you opt for an open-top bag, make sure you use an ESD warning label to temporarily close the bag.

We offer two different bag features to suit your preference: Resealable loc-top and open top.

Loc-Top Resealable Open Top
Pink Anti-Static Bags Pink Anti-Static Bags

Bespoke sizes, thickness, printing and packaging solutions can be manufactured on request.

Does One Bag Surpass The Others?

Since each bag serves a different function, each bag has its own advantages. Anti-static bags are great for storing nuts, bolts, etc and their outer antistatic coating helps to protect nearby static sensitive items from ESD charge. Static shielding bags are best to use in situations that require the protection of static sensitive components that are being moved into a static sensitive environment. Moisture and metallised barrier bags are designed for the packaging of SMD’s protecting them from moisture and static damage. One thing to take note of though is the quality of the bag. The quality of the bag determines how effective it is going to be, whether it’s going to provide superb ESD protection or excellent protection against moisture. If you think the price of an ESD bag is too good to be true then it most likely is. All in all, it’s best to choose a bag that is reasonably priced and is supplied by a reputable manufacturer.

Bespoke Packaging

Did you know that your ESD bags can be customised? Whether you need a unique size, thickness, print, etc, Bondline can create whatever you desire to suit your requirements. Get in touch with us today to discuss your bespoke ESD bag requirements! Or, if you are still not too sure on what bag you need, give us a call and we’d be happy to help you!

A little reminder: All of our ESD bags are RoHS and REACH compliant. Upon receiving your bag(s), you will find a label highlighting the bag(s) compliance.

Pink Antistatic Bag with Sticker Bondline

The Bondline Team.

 

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