A few things you should consider before making any decisions:
Type of operation
Depending on the work your operators are doing, one type/configuration of ioniser may have more benefits than another. For example, if your workspace is limited, an overhead ioniser might be the answer. On the other hand, if there is an issue with debris and dust in your operation, then a compressed air ioniser would be better suited.
Does your ioniser need to be made of stainless steel? Does it need to use zero-volt technology? Do you need a cost-effective ioniser with built-in emitter point cleaners? Do activities need to be monitored and recorded with some sort of software? Make a list of what is an absolute must and where you can compromise – see next point.
Even though this one is the last one in this list, it by no means is the least important factor. Quite contrary, it’s generally one of the main considerations when investing in an ioniser. However, it kind of goes hand in hand with the previous 2 points. So, you may have to make compromises, e.g. on the features, depending on what monies are available.
Where are ionisers used?
- PCB and electronic assembly
- Flat panel display manufacturing
- Medical device manufacturing
- Front end semiconductor manufacturing
- Back end semiconductor manufacturing
- Spray painting and refinishing
- Printing industry
Ionisers can solve static issues in these applications:
- Glass and optics
- Sheet and web printing
- Spray painting and coating
- Film extrusion
- Precision weighing
- Parts cleaning
- Carding process
How does ionisation fit into an ESD Control Program?
Ionisation is just one component of your ESD Control Program. Before utilising ionisation, you should follow the fundamental principles of ESD Control:
- Ground all conductors (including people) using conventional grounding methods (e.g. wrist straps or footwear/flooring system).
- Remove all insulators, e.g. coffee cups, food wrappers etc.
“Air ionisation is not a replacement for grounding methods. It is one component of a complete static control program. Ionisers are used when it is not possible to properly ground everything and as backup to other static control methods. In clean rooms, air ionisation may be one of the few methods of static control available.” (ESD Handbook ESD TR20.20 Ionisation, section 18.104.22.168 Introduction and Purpose / General Information).