In an Electrostatic Protected Area (EPA), it is critical for all non-essential insulators to be either removed or replaced with and EPA safe version that can be grounded or doesn’t create a charge. Common workbench equipment such as tape, paper and brushes are made from high charging insulative materials and are often overlooked during an EPA Assessment. To best help you protect your static sensitive components from ESD, here are our do’s and don’ts for workbench equipment for ESD control.
It is critical for components to be kept clean from dust and contaminant accumulation to keep them in good working condition. When a static sensitive component is cleaned with a regular brush tribocharging occurs. This is due to the intimate contact and separation of the brush bristles on the component.
Even if the operator is grounded, the electrostatic charge will remain on the brush fibres and/or handle. If the electrostatic charged brush makes contact with the component, the static can discharge onto the component and as a result cause irreversible damage.
To prevent ESD damage when cleaning a component, it is recommended to change any brushes that are made from high charging insulative materials to conductive or dissipative materials (an ESD safe brush).
According to the IEC-61340-5-1 International Standard, loose sheets of paper in static controlled areas must be replaced with dissipative paper or inserted into either ESD protective wallets, document holders or laminating sheets. This is because paper is insulative and low-charging.
The primary concern of using paper in Electrostatic Protected Areas is that static sensitive components are often placed on top of paper which then interferes with the path-to-ground through the anti-static mat. This in turn can cause static to discharge from the paper onto the component, damaging it.
There are a range of products available on the market that can provide anti-static protection for paper sheets.
Regular waste bins in static controlled areas should be addressed as they pose a static threat to ESD sensitive components. This is because they are made from high charging insulative materials. It is therefore necessary the bins are replaced with a conductive or static dissipative alternative. ESD safe waste bins should be placed on a grounded floor so that any build-up of electrostatic charge can be safely removed to Earth.
The type of bin liner you use for your ESD safe waste bin is equally important. Replacing high charging insulative bin liners to anti-static bin liners is recommended according to the IEC-61340-5-1 International Standard.
Hand tools such as cutters and pliers are commonly used for the manufacture, repair or service of static sensitive devices. Due to their intimate contact with components, it is critical to ensure all hand tools are ESD safe and groundable.
Two factors that should be considered is the body of the hand tool and the handles. Most hand tools such as cutters have high charging insulative handles. These can generate high voltages in the EPA. If part of the handle was to come into contact with the ESD sensitive device being worked on, an ESD event between the hand tool and the device might occur.
For best practice, it is recommended to use hand tools with static-dissipative handles, a conductive stainless steel body and anti-magnetic tips. See Bondline’s range of ESD hand tools.
Component failure can often be caused by adhesive tape. This is dependent on the tape’s material and the types of processes. Many different ESD failure modes can occur when working with adhesive tapes, some in which include: charge on tape after removal from reel, charge generated into electronic circuitry during tape removal and charge remaining on PCBs after tape removal.
An anti-static tape, on the other hand, will generate a very low voltage during the unwind, application and removal process. This acts as a safety device, reducing the risk of contamination of the products. It is important to replace any high charging insulative tape to a tape that is anti-static to prevent the risk of static discharge.
We hope this list has provided you with useful tips on the types of workbench equipment that should and shouldn’t be used in an EPA. The next step in creating an ESD safe work environment is to implement an EPA Assessment. Bondline can conduct a thorough EPA Assessment of your site to help to identify what equipment needs removed and replaced in your EPA. If you would like us to audit your area, please get in touch with us by filling the form or contacting us on 01793 511000 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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