Did you know? The tiniest spark can lead to fatal damage to static sensitive products? The protection of static sensitive products against ESD comes down to using the right type of equipment and taking the appropriate measures. Grounding personnel is one of the most effective and easiest ways to control ESD and mitigate static damage to products. Grounding personnel can be achieved in various ways, however the most common being via an ESD wrist strap system. Keep on reading to learn how an ESD wrist strap can protect products in the workplace.
In industries such as aerospace, electronics manufacturing and cleanrooms, electronic components can be extremely small and ultra-sensitive, making them very susceptible to static electricity. Where static is of concern, preventative measures should be put in place to eliminate the risk of static damage caused by electrostatic discharge (ESD).
Anti-static equipment is paramount to the product’s safety. Some examples of common products sensitive to static include printed circuit boards, TTL chips, MOSFET transistors and laser diodes. It typically takes an ESD discharge of more than 2,500 to 3,500 volts for a person to feel a shock, however, a small discharge of 25 volts can damage electronic components without the operator feeling a thing. Comprising the safety of static sensitive products to ESD can often lead to an ESD event which can be catastrophic. Depending on the level of damage, the destruction can lead to reduced functionality of the device and even device loss. This can be expensive, time consuming and frustrating. Although anti-static equipment is an expensive investment, protecting products against static charge will lessen the need for costly replacements and improve production time.
An ESD wrist strap, also known as a lock wrist ESD band, is a primary means of grounding personnel and should be worn when handling, assembling, or packing any static sensitive product. ESD wrist straps are usually worn while sitting at a workbench, however they can also be used while standing at a bench. ESD straps are most effective when paired with two major components: a grounding cord and a common grounding point such as a plug or bracket. All three components work accordingly together to essentially ground the operator to Earth, protecting any static sensitive product the operator is holding or working with.
An ESD wrist strap functions differently to a standard wrist strap. What makes an ESD wrist strap unique is its conductive properties and ability to provide an electrical connection to the skin of a person through to a ground cord and to a common ground point. While an anti-static wrist strap does not prevent generation of static charges, its purpose is to dissipate any static charges to Earth as quickly as possible.
ESD wrist straps are made with safety in mind. Most ESD wrist straps will have a 1 megohm safety resistor incorporated into the wrist strap. This helps to keep the human body safe by limiting the amount of current that could be conducted through the body while working on a product.
There are various types of ESD wrist straps in the market including, elastic wristbands, metal wristbands and disposable wristbands. Elastic ESD wristbands are the most popular type of wrist strap. Many businesses opt for an elastic wristband because they are comfortable, easy to adjust via the Velcro strap and are more cost-effective than metal wristbands. Although a more expensive option, metal wristbands are easier to clean and are long-lasting. While most wrist bands are designed to be reusable, there are also single-use wrist straps made for temporary operations. Nevertheless, each type of ESD wrist strap will work in the same way: to provide a path for static to ground.
An ESD wrist strap is simple to use. A wrist strap can be worn on either side of the wrist depending on personal preference and company policies. However, this can also be determined by where the grounding point is located. When applying an anti-static wrist strap onto the wrist, it should be adjusted accordingly so the band feels secure and fits snugly against the skin. Once correctly adjusted, the wrist strap can be connected with a grounding cord via its snap connector and then connected to a common ground point. After the connections have been made, the wrist strap will keep the person at ground potential or the same potential as the object when ground connection is not possible. When handling static sensitive products, the wrist strap will remove any static charges from the person and dissipate them to ground.
The most important factor to remember when using an ESD wrist strap is to ensure the person’s skin and the conductive band makes intimate contact with each-other while the coil cord is connected to ground. This will allow for an efficient grounding path. Most wrist straps are typically worn on the wrist as this is the most comfortable and convenient place to wear the wrist strap. As long as the wrist strap is in direct contact with the person’s skin, a wrist strap can be worn almost anywhere.
As with most things, ESD wrist straps need to be tested. Since ESD wrist straps have several failure mechanisms, it is best advised for ESD wrist straps to be tested on a regular basis to ensure they are performing correctly. Testing can be conducted either at specific wrist strap test stations or by using a continuous monitor. Without testing your ESD wrist strap on a daily basis, you will be putting your static sensitive products at risk. This could cause potential damage to the product which may not be noticeable immediately. Remember, whenever you are planning to use an ESD wrist strap, ensure you take a few minutes to test it.
Now you understand how an ESD wrist strap works and how it can protect products against electrostatic discharges, you should consider to incorporate them as part of your ESD control plan at your workplace. Not sure where to start? We can help you take the first step.
Our advisors can support you in choosing the right type of ESD wrist strap for your needs. Whether you require a wrist strap for temporary or long-term use, we have a wrist strap for almost any specification. Give us a call today on 01793 511000 or email us at email@example.com where we’d be happy to help!
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