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Why ESD Lab Coats and Jackets Are Essential For EPAs

Do you use ESD lab coats or jackets as part of your personal protection in an EPA?

Many people may ask why they should wear an ESD lab coat/jacket (smocks) if they are already grounded to Earth via a wrist-strap. This is mostly due to the common misconception of how an ESD wrist-strap will dissipate any static charge on the personnel, regardless of the type of clothing they are wearing (in this case, insulative synthetic fibres). In this blog post, we will explain the importance of wearing ESD lab coats and jackets and why you should consider using them for your ESD Protected Area (EPA).

Purpose of ESD Lab Coats and Jackets

Antistatic clothing is an essential part of many electronic manufacturing and engineering companies, including labs, health environments and precision engineering environments. Despite the ESD Standard not requiring ESD lab coats or jackets, they are very practical especially for the health care industry (medical and microelectronics).

Clothing material is a significant factor to consider when selecting what to wear in your Electrostatic Protected Area (EPA). If your clothes are manufactured from synthetic fibres then they can generate great amounts of static charge and could potentially cause damage. However, if the fabric is an insulator it can cause catastrophic results when in contact with static-sensitive components; this is because an isolated charged insulator cannot be grounded. When working with ESD sensitive equipment, you should also consider your sleeves and waist since they can produce several thousand volts (a significant electric field to expose nearby conductors) that may induce charges on nearby isolated conductors.

ESD lab coats and jackets, on the other hand, are specifically designed to prevent damage to sensitive electronic components that are being assembled or packaged within a protected area. ESD lab coats and jackets should be manufactured from a conductive yarn to ensure they eliminate static and prevent the effects of electrostatic charges being built up from non-ESD clothing. Overall, the main reason people wear ESD lab coats and jackets is because they can shield the insulative clothing and minimise the electric fields generated from their clothing.

ESD Lab Coat and Jacket Properties

Most ESD lab coats and jackets are manufactured from a static dissipative material that’s designed to be used in an Electrostatic Protected Area (EPA).

ESD lab coats and jackets should have antistatic properties that protect the user and the surrounding items from ESD contact. The following ESD control characteristics you should look for are as follows:

  • Antistatic (low-charging) so they decrease the generation of electrostatic charges.
  • Dissipative so when grounded they will remove charges to ground.
  • Shielding creating a “Faraday Cage” effect so they will restrict charges generated on the user’s clothing to the inside of the ESD lab coat and jacket.
  • Ground-able so the operator can easily and reliably connect them to ground.
  • Design is lightweight, comfortable and practical for the user.

When sourcing our ESD lab coats and ESD lab jackets, we purchase from high-quality manufacturers to ensure they are to our exact standard and guarantee high customer satisfaction. Our ESD lab coats’ and jackets’ fabric is constructed using 65% polyester, 32% cotton and 3% conductive yarn to provide optimum antistatic protection and user comfort. When choosing your ESD garments, always look for the material composition and, if possible, where the garments have been sourced from; so you know you are purchasing high-quality items that have a good longevity.

Testing of ESD Lab Coats and Jackets

A crucial factor to consider is the panel-to-panel conductivity as it ensures portions of the lab coat/jacket are not left as isolated charged conductors. To test an ESD lab coat or jacket we recommend using a Resistance Test Kit. A Resistance Test Kit can measure the resistance of the fabric and ensure panel-to-panel conductivity by placing 2.5kg electrodes on different fabric panels.

Bondline Resistance Test Kit

To ensure that the fabric is low tribocharging, a Static Field Meter can be used to measure charges generated by causing contact and separation with other materials.

Installation and Grounding of ESD Smocks

To ensure you are properly wearing and grounding your ESD lab coat or jacket, please read our directions below.

  • Place the lab coat/jacket on and fasten all of the snaps on the front of the lab coat/jacket, making sure that clothing is not exposed outside of the lab coat/jacket.
  • Throughout use, it is essential that the conductive cuff is in intimate contact with wrist skin. The conductive cuff should never be allowed to be pulled up and over the shirt’s sleeve.
  • Grounding the ESD lab coat/jacket. A common way to ground an ESD lab coat/jacket is with a coiled cord either attached to a snap on the waist area of the lab coat/jacket or via a wrist strap snapped to the inside cuff of an ESD lab coat/jacket. If none of these methods are appropriate, the lab coat/jacket should be grounded via the person’s wrist removing charges via ESD footwear to ESD protected flooring.

Maintenance and Cleaning of ESD Lab Coat and Jacket

To correctly maintain and clean your ESD smocks, you should wash the garment in warm or cool water, tumble dry with low heat (up to 60°C) or hang dry. We recommend to only use non-ionic softeners and detergents when laundering; do not use bleach to clean your clothes as this can erode the carbon threading.

The recommended washing guidance is a minimum of 60 industrial washes for an ESD lab coat and 50 industrial washes for an ESD lab jacket. Washing can cause approximately 5% shrinkage for each garment, although this shouldn’t be noticeable or affect the static dissipative properties. Please note that the washing guidance can vary between each manufacturer.

In addition, lab coats and jackets should not be altered in any way. The lab coats’ and jackets’ effectiveness is in fully covering the human body– particularly at the wrists and front of the body. Altering the lab coat or jacket in any way will reduce its effectiveness.

Improve Static Protection with Bondline’s ESD Lab Coats and Jackets

Discover our range of best-selling ESD lab coats and ESD lab jackets on our website. Each ESD garment is available in a wide variety of sizes to provide a comfortable fit for all individuals. Their unisex design makes them great for practicality around the workplace. For a premium, professional appearance, we offer custom logo embroidery for your company on request.

Bondline ESD Lab Jackets Bondline anti-static lab coats.

Want to know more about static? Read our previous blog post ‘what everyday tasks produce static‘.

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To enquire about our ESD lab coats/jackets or for general enquiries, please contact us using the form below.

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