When establishing an electrostatic protected area (EPA), making the correct choice of ESD flooring is essential to ensure that sensitive electronic components and assemblies are adequately protected from the harmful effects of electrostatic discharge (ESD).
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Bondline offer a wide selection of flooring solutions for your Electrostatic Protected Area, including floor tiles and anti-fatigue matting. Installing anti-static flooring is an essential step in creating a safe environment for workers and visitors. Our range includes the following:
ESD flooring, also known as conductive flooring, is a flooring material with a grounding resistance of less than 1.0 x 10⁶ ohms, a floor designed to prevent, mitigate, dissipate, conduct, remove or ground the body, furniture, moving carts and equipment with excessive static electricity. Conductive floor tiles are a type of floor tile made of carpet, synthetic rubber or vinyl that is used to reduce electrostatic discharge (ESD). Ultimately, conductive flooring is a solid foundation for a comprehensive static control system.
ESD flooring gives a much higher level of protection than anti-static matting. This is because it is actually grounded. Interlocking ESD floor tiles, for example, have millions of small stainless steel fibres running all the way through them. The tiles are then laid out on top of a conductive grid. Earth points are then laid down every 80 -100 m² so that the electricity flows out through the conductive grid. This is much better than anti-static matting because the stainless steel fibres run all the way through each tile, so their conductive performance never diminishes.
In industries such as the pharmaceutical industry where electronic components or volatile chemicals are involved, static electricity can result in significant damage, injury and financial loss. All active electronic components and equipment e.g. micro-chips, integrated circuits and machinery are sensitive to electrostatic discharges (also known as ESD events).
Even when areas and people are equipped to handle such static-sensitive devices, inadvertent contact and damage can occur. ESD flooring can safeguard your entire process.
The term “anti-static” refers to a state in which the generation of static electricity is suppressed during contact and separation with other materials. It refers to a very specific electrical resistance range of between 10⁹ and 10 to the 11 and only means that the floor itself will not generate static. It does not mean that the floor will eliminate static build up or dissipate static that may have already been built up in the body. This can only be achieved with a conductive (resistance range of between 10⁴ x 10⁶) or a dissipative (10⁷ to 10⁹) floor covering. By grounding the charge, anti-static flooring prevents the ESD from building up and discharging into the environment, so installing anti-static flooring is an essential step in creating a safe environment for workers and visitors. The anti-static floor can be static dissipative or electrostatically conductive.
The term anti-static is often misunderstood and misused, 9 times out of 10 when companies are asked for anti-static flooring what the customer actually wants is Electro-Static Dissipative or Conductive Flooring, commonly referred to as ESD flooring.
Static dissipative flooring tile is the floor material with a grounding resistance of less than 1 x 10¹² ohm but greater than 1 x 10^(5) ohm, which is also used for the mitigation of electrostatic discharge (ESD) and usually composed of carpet, synthetic rubber or vinyl composition.
The performance of ESD matting is based on the material’s constructed form, as well as its electrical properties and abilities to withstand heat, chemicals, and mechanical abrasion. ESD matting is generally available in Vinyl or Rubber material. See our range of ESD Flooring and Matting above. For a full guide on ESD matting, click here.
Essentially, an ESD and anti-static floor both prevent a person from building up a charge as they walk across the floor so they do not get a shock when they touch something that conducts electricity. However, the difference between them is that an anti-static floor has a top-layer coating that dissipates static across its surface so you never build up enough charge to get a shock.
An ESD floor, on the other hand, is a much more robust solution that delivers greater long-term results because it is actually earthed. Floors should never be purchased based solely on whether they are described as conductive or static dissipative.
With reference to the installation systems, static control flooring can be classified into three groups:
Permanently installed floors:
Periodically applied topical coatings on existing floor surfaces:
Mats placed over existing floors:
ESD flooring works more effectively and completely than other types of ESD flooring, such as carpet or tile.
Just as there are many uses for anti-static flooring, there are also many choices to consider when choosing an anti-static floor. The first step is to understand the risks and requirements for your specific use case, including how electrostatic energy is generated in your location, the estimated strength of your average ESD and the potential consequences of electrostatic discharges in your facility. Next, it’s important to understand the subtle but important differences in static control terminology to help you decide which type of anti-static flooring is right for you.
The resistance or impedance of anti-static flooring is expressed in ohms (Ω), a unit of measurement named after Georg Ohm, the German physicist who discovered Ohm’s Law, which governs electrical currents through conductors. Anti-static flooring options include conductive and dissipative systems, which offer different ranges of electrical resistance; in general, conductive flooring offers a resistance of up to 1 mega Ω, and static dissipative flooring provides resistance between 1 mega Ω and 100 mega Ω.
In simple terms, higher resistance equals lower conductivity of energy; however, that doesn’t mean that lower resistance is necessarily the better option for anti-static floors. In fact, in most “mission-critical” environments like emergency call centres or air traffic control towers, grounding standards recommend static dissipative flooring over conductive flooring options. The right choice for you really depends on your specific needs.
Additionally, you will also want to consider how large your electrostatic protected area is, what materials you require and what properties your floor needs.
Cleanrooms and workshops will often differ in environments. There will likely be different requirements needed for each environment. You should consider slip resistance, sound absorption, for example.
All floors are different when it comes to installing them. You can either install them yourself or, especially for larger or trickier areas, have someone install a floor for you. Remember, when selecting someone to fit your floor, make sure they’re highly experienced and reputable so you can be sure that your floor will be fitted correctly.
When installing an ESD floor it is important that people entering the area wear the correct footwear or heel straps to ensure the connection between the person and the floor isn’t broken. Everyone should also wear white lab coats as electricity can jump and it is possible to damage electrical components this way without realising.
At Bondline, we offer the service of installing your ESD floor for you.
You can see one of our latest ESD floor tile installations here.
Did you know the friction caused by the rubbing of the sole of a shoe and the dust and dirt on the floor will create static? A good and regular cleaning regime using the correct cleaning chemicals will ensure a static free floor. If you do not clean or maintain your antistatic floor, you could compromise the ESD properties of the floor. This could lead to expensive replacement costs of the damaged electronics and the floor itself.
When choosing a floor cleaner, you may opt for standard cleaning products, however these can actually increase the risk / propensity to static build up due to their chemicals. Instead you should choose a floor cleaner that has a neutral PH cleaning chemical so that you do not add either a positively charged layer over the top of your floor surface. A good and regular cleaning regime using the correct cleaning chemicals will ensure a static-free floor. At Bondline, we provide a full range of ESD cleaning products to properly maintain and clean your ESD equipment.
There is a huge range of off the shelf anti-static cleaning products available which work in the same way as standard floor cleaning chemicals, but they include an anti-static additive. This attracts moisture from the atmosphere which consequently eliminates static build-up.
For light cleaning, you should never use a standard dust pan and broom as this can generate static charge. Rather, you should use an antistatic dustpan and broom that is made from an anti-static raw material with no additional coating as this makes it ESD safe.
Your choice of shoe is key to static build-up. When using an ESD floor, you must consider using ESD conforming shoes or, alternatively, ESD heel grounders to ensure that there is a path to ground from the operator via the ESD heel strap / ESD shoe to the floor.
It is important to know that certain synthetic or man made shoe soles can create a lot of static electricity. Generally, you should experiment with different shoes to find which one works best for you and the floor you use. The reason you build up static electricity usually comes from walking on an insulative surface with certain types of insulative shoes, especially when the weather / room humidity is very dry. We would strongly recommend that you avoid any shoes with rubber soles. Although leather shoes are a decent choice, the best solution is to use either anti-static or ESD footwear.
Our Press Studding Kit is great for hole punching and adding studs to ESD bench matting for earth grounding cord attachment. Designed for attaching studs to matting including hole punch, riveting tool and 100 x 10mm studs.
Regardless of which anti-static flooring solution you choose, professional and knowledgeable installation will make a big difference in the success and longevity of your floor. It is important to choose a provider or contractor based on their experience and reliability—not because of their lower price. The total cost of ownership of any industrial floor, whether anti-static, resin, concrete or carpet, does not end with the installation. There are maintenance and repair to think of, which means warranties and quality matter. Check out the company providing the solution, including their history and reputation; no one worthwhile will fault you for being thorough in your flooring consideration.
Equally important is a thorough understanding of the maintenance requirements and potential repair costs of your anti-static floors. Epoxy anti-static floors cannot be overlaid as this will insulate the floor from the earthing points so the epoxy must be first removed back to the substrate, with new copper strips installed for re-earthing and grounding. The new epoxy coating is then installed with an additional 7 days before the epoxy fully cures. Vinyl flooring will have a shorter life expectancy and a lower abrasion resistance resulting in the need for maintenance and ultimately replacement in a far shorter period. Conversely, PMMA resin flooring can be reverse-cured, which makes spot repairs easy to do. Get to know the needs of the floor types you’re considering and factor the expected costs of maintenance and repairs into your budget to get a true picture of how much a solution will cost.
If you would like more information on flooring guidance, you can read our ESD floor blog post here.
We not only supply superior ESD flooring at competitive prices, we offer the very best in pre-sales and after-sales service including a free floor audit, expert advice, full preparation and installation service, annual testing and calibration and a full cleaning and after care service.
To enquire about our ESD Flooring products, please contact us and our team will get back to you as soon as we can. Alternatively, for a more immediate response, you can also contact us via LiveChat.
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