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Ionisers

Ionisers play a crucial role in providing absolute static elimination in an EPA. Offering ultimate protection for highly sensitive electronics, in which wrist straps and mats just can’t fully eliminate alone. Effectively ground your workstation today with our ioniser range.

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Ionising Solutions

Nowadays, investing in ESD protection is an essential element of electronics-based industries as it’s applied in every stage of manufacturing, production, repairing and testing. Considering that there is an extortionate amount of money being spent on replacing damaged electronics and components every year, it is no wonder why so many businesses are investing in ESD control.

ESD Ionisers are becoming more and more in demand, we’ve seen this rise particularly over the last few years. Many businesses, especially those who work with highly sensitive electronics including Cleanrooms (microelectronics) and even the printing industry, have come to the realisation that ESD Ionisers are not only the most effective way to ensure absolute static elimination, but also must be utilised as part of their ESD control program. The reason as to why many businesses are investing in ESD Ionisers is because they ensure a complete static-free environment, providing the highest level of protection for electronic devices, given that additional grounding equipment is used alongside it.

Using an ESD wrist strap and table mat alone will not completely eliminate all present electrostatic potential in the air. Even though they are highly effective in eliminating static charge, tiny amounts of static may still reach through and damage the most sensitive components.

Before we go further into ESD ionisers, let us first take a closer look at what ESD is.

What is ESD?

Electrostatic discharge is a natural manifestation in which electricity is passed or conducted through our body and expelled onto another object. For instance, the ‘electric shock’ that we experience at random when we touch a doorknob or a screen.

This is a challenge for numerous industries. Static discharge that is released can set fire on flammable concoction or vapours in laboratories or even destroy highly sensitive and costly electronic components in factories. It can also draw in contaminants in clean settings or even lead products to stick together and interfere with the overall manufacturing process.

So, why is managing ESD very important?

Static discharge is destructive to sensitive electronic components. Even 1 volt of electricity is enough to cause damage but most devices need around 100 volts to cause damage that is beyond repair.

Humans cannot feel a static discharge unless it is 2,000 volts or higher. So, if you don’t feel a zap, it doesn’t mean a static discharge did not happen or damage your electronic components.

There are many industries that depend on electronic components and their reliability to work in harsh conditions, so the need for a reliable ESD ioniser is very important.

Often, electronic component producers are not aware that static discharge has damaged their products during the assembly process, unless they test all components one by one or see their final product fail after assembly. If these products were used in an industry like aerospace, one minor problem on a small component could lead to an enormous failure, which is why ESD is a major challenge for many industries.

What is an ioniser?

In manufacturing/production applications, static can cause a variety of problems such as process issues, lockups, contamination, product defects/failures and can even be a safety hazard by causing shocks to people.

When working on printed circuit boards (PCBs) or manufacturing medical devices, it is imperative that you eliminate electrostatic discharge (ESD) and particle contamination from the environment. If either of these happen to be in the surrounding, they can cause significant damage to static-sensitive components on the assembly line. Resulting in high costs and replacements.

To protect your production line process from static and particle damage, ionisers make an excellent solution to static and particle control. Generally, ionisers are used when it is not possible to properly ground everything. It can also act as a backup to other static control methods and helps to make the atmosphere both healthier and less prone to ESD.

How do ionisers work?

Air Ionisation systems work by flooding the atmosphere with positive and negative ions. When the ionised air comes in contact with a charged surface, the surface attracts ions of the opposite polarity. As a result the static electricity that has built up on products and equipment is neutralised.

Ionisers should be used in accordance with the right grounding equipment such as wrist straps, coil cords and table mats to effectively work. Think of ionisers this way – the wrist strap, cord and matting are the layers of the cake (the core components to static control which everyone needs). Then to top these layers off, we add the icing – ionisation! (the final part we need for ultimate ESD protection).

Importance of ionisers

The most significant environmental factor in ESD Control is the relative humidity (Rh). When humidity in the working environment decreases, the human body and other insulators can easily charge with static electricity due to friction. The air itself, being dry, becomes a part of the electrostatic build-up mechanism, every time an air flow (wind, air conditioning, blower) come over an insulated surface. Relative Humidity shall be maintained over 30%. Below that value it is recommended the use of ionisation.

How does air become ionised?

Ionisers are made up of either a single emitter point (guns) or multiple emitter points (blowers). An emitter point is a metal needle that conducts charge.

When the voltage from an electrical power source is applied to an ioniser’s emitter point, it creates an electric field or “corona” around the emitter.

This corona of ions then interacts with electrons in nearby gas molecules. With the use of alternating current (AC) or direct current (DC) the ionised air is pushed by the motor in the ioniser towards the surface you are aiming it at.

What problems do ionisers solve?

Static or Electrostatic discharges (ESD), if left uncontrolled, affect both yield rate and finished-product quality. Damage caused by static discharges falls into three categories:

  • Damage to product, components or process tools resulting from a direct ESD event.
  • Surface contamination due to electrostatic attraction (ESA) of particles.
  • Process equipment latch-up caused by electromagnetic interference (EMI) from an ESD event.

All three can result in a loss of money and time replacing everything.  This is something all companies try to avoid.

Something that is less known about is how static can cause problems in the printing industry. Static electricity can cause print quality issues, as well as sheet feeding and delivery problems. It can also create a risk of fire in solvent processes. Printing on paper or plastics in high-speed, sheet and web fed applications will create static control problems. These issues apply to offset, gravure, flexographic, screen, pad, inkjet, laser and digital printing processes.

One of the best ways to resolve these issues is to incorporate ESD ionisers to your printing process area. These units analyse the ion levels in the print environment. Based on analysis, the units release either positive or negative ions, balancing the air and mitigating the conditions for static generation.

Before investing in ionisation equipment it is important to evaluate the task it must accomplish. First, consider the discharge speed required by the dynamics of the process (i.e., the requirement for positive/negative ion balance should be determined in terms of process- or product-charge sensitivity). Next, resist the temptation to specify the means
of achieving the desired performance.

Instead, when specifying ionisation requirements, set specifications around performance requirements. (Setting technology requirements can lead to choosing a less desirable solution, which can result in a costly mistake.)

The process should begin with answers to three questions:

  • What decay time is required for a reasonable level of product or process protection?
  • What offset voltage can the process accept?
  • How will parameters and results be measured?

When should you use ionisers?

Static electricity and particulate matter contamination is a problem in a range of industries.

Static electricity causes primarily two problems.

1 ) The first is the discharge of electricity onto an electrical component. Known as ESD, electrostatic discharge can alter the functioning of electronic circuits permanently.

2) The second problem caused by static is that a charged object can attract particulate matter onto it. Known as ESA, electrostatic attraction can cause the charged object to become contaminated and no longer usable.

In fact, ionisation is increasingly being used inside Cleanrooms as more engineers realise that air filtration alone does not ensure the elimination of particulate contamination from sub-visible particles (less than 25 microns). If you cannot uninstall features of your work area that are insulative the only alternative is to use ionisation.

Insulators are charged by triboelectrification or rubbing against other materials where electrons are exchanged resulting in the creation of a charge. For example, ionisation is often used in the manufacture of plastics to dissipate the ambient charge generated in low humidity by plastic film rolling over metal production lines.

The amount of charge that can build up in these situations can literally cause people to feel themselves being zapped if they are near enough the static electricity.

Types of ionisers

Bench Top Ionisers

As workstation space is incredibly valuable, many users prefer the smaller units which are much more compact compared to other ionisers. Its smaller size and lighter weight makes it more convenient to use. Benchtop static ionsiers have become the latest static elimination technology available today. Some benchtop ionisers can even be suspended above the bench using a flexible mounting arm. Whatever style is chosen, care should be taken to assure that items normally on the bench would not obstruct the flow of ionised air. A real benefit of benchtop ionisers is the fact that they can easily be moved between workstations. So, if you only have a small EPA with a few users and shared workload, you can save money by moving one ioniser between different benches. They are very simple to use and routine maintenance is performed with ease.

Overhead Ionisers

Overhead ionisation was established to solve the problem of items on a workbench blocking the flow of ionised air. Overhead Ionisers have a unique hanging capability and are suspended about 17 to 24 inch above the bench – either by hanging from chains or by using mounting brackets attached to a shelf or bench. Using this method of ionisation makes it very unlikely for
items to block the flow of ionised air to the item being protected. In addition, the downward airflow is more consistent over the entire bench. To ensure that adequate air is delivered an overhead ionizer with 2 to 4 fans should be used. Overhead ionization is ideal for areas where bench space is limited. Generally, overhead ionizers are light, quiet and high performing.

Ion Bars

Ion bars are a type of overhead ioniser that are compact and can be installed in places where typical ionisers will not fit. Ionising bars are designed to control static charge in mini-environments, laminar flow hoods and workstations. Ionising bars come in a variety of lengths and with various emitter point materials for use in specific cleanliness controlled environments.

Precision Ionisers

Most companies address ESD, visual imperfections and contamination issues by dislodging charged dust and debris with compressed air ionisers. They use compressed air or nitrogen to neutralise static charges in localised areas – they are a quick “point-and-shoot” option. They are either hand-held guns or may be mounted in a fixed location. The main advantage of this type is that the user has the benefit of a strong air blast (20 to 100 P.S.I.) to help dislodge contamination, while the ionisation in the air stream eliminates the static attraction of the particles at the same time. Hand-held air nozzle types will usually have a trigger or push-button to activate the air and ion flow, while the stationary-mounted type is frequently remote controlled with a foot pedal, photo sensor or some other switch closure.

Ionising Air Snake

Ionising Air Snake is the ideal option when you require a hands-free operation in a confined space. Its convenient foot pedal means you can operate with ease without the need to use your hands. It is light, small, free from electromagnetism and has built in piezoelectric high voltage power supply. Thus, it is equipped with an auto-ion balance system and high voltage.

What type of ioniser is right for you?

When selecting an ioniser, there are many different factors you will need to consider before choosing one. Remember, there is no right or wrong ioniser to use. The wide variety of ionisers allows you to select one best for your needs.

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 then 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.

Features required

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.

Available budget

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:

  • Plastics
  • Adhesives
  • Explosives
  • Textiles
  • Converting
  • Glass and optics
  • Sheet and web printing
  • Spray painting and coating
  • Moulding
  • 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 5.3.6.1 Introduction and Purpose / General Information).

Ioniser Supplier

Bondline’s ionisers eliminate the build-up of static charges on non-conductors, ensuring a static-free work area. Ionisers generate positive and negative ions which neutralise any static charges on insulating materials which cannot be grounded in the normal way. They are ideal for electronics industries which work with static-sensitive electrical components or devices. All ionisers are CE approved. Euro plug option is available on request.

We offer a range of ionisers to suit your requirements including:

  • Bench Top Ionisers.
  • Horizontal Ionisers.
  • Overhead Ionisers 3-Fan and 4-Fan.
  • Premium Ion Gun and Controller.
  • Ionising Air Snake.
  • Zero Stat Gun.

Bondline’s ionisers incorporate superior technology and features including excellent auto-ion balance, out-of-balance alarm indicator, adjustable blowing angle, foot pedals and more.

Below are some factors to consider when choosing to purchase an ioniser:

Lead Times. When determining which manufacturer to partner with, determine whether they can deliver your order on time, check their delivery success rate and what assurances they provide if there are unavoidable problems. If possible, choose a domestic manufacturer because they have a significant advantage over foreign manufacturers when it comes to shipping finished products with tight deadlines and international shipping can add a layer of complexity to delivery times. Working with a domestic partner can also lessen the risk of you receiving low-quality products and not receiving them on time.

Cost. For many, this is the final determining factor when choosing an ioniser. Usually, the higher the price, the  increase in features or strength. Although investing in high-quality products does not come cheap, it is important that you should not cut back on costs. For manufacturers of highly developed products, sending off inferior final products is costlier due to incurring lost parts during the manufacturing process as compared to saving a few pounds on creating cheaper versions of it.

Type Of Application. The application that you are undertaking will hold significant bearing as to the ioniser unit that you invest in. If workspace is of limited availability for example, an overhead unit would be a greater fit. Consider all factors in your work environment before making your final purchase.

Features Needed. You should ensure that you list all the functionality features that you require from your ionisation products. This will allow you to narrow down your options so you can select the right type of ioniser for you application.

Contact Us

If you have any questions about our ionisers or would like some expert advice on selecting the right one for your application, please contact us.

Telephone: 01793 511000  Email: sales@bondline.co.uk

ESD Ionisers - 4 Fan Ioniser, Ionising Gun, Bench Top Ioniser

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