Mitigating Electrostatic Discharge with Static Control Flooring Systems
by Jim Essig - Technical Director, Specialty Flooring
ESD, electrostatic discharge, is the sudden spontaneous transfer of electric current. Basically a charge flows through a spark between two bodies at different electrostatic potentials as they approach one another.
Why Does ESD Matter?
An example of ESD that we are all familiar with is walking across a carpet and touching a door knob. The zap you feel is that sudden transfer of current. What you probably don’t know is it takes 3,500 volts for a human to even feel a shock. Have you ever actually seen that spark jump from the end of your finger to the door handle? It takes about 20,000 volts to jump one centimeter.
Why is this important? Jet fuel (and gas) under proper conditions can ignite with a 1,000 volt charge, hence all the warning signs at your local gas station. But the real danger is to today’s sophisticated electronic devices. These can be damaged by as little as 25 volts.
ESD has become a multi-billion dollar industry problem affecting manufacturing environments and end-user environments that use electronic parts. Copy machines, computers, medical and communications equipment are all susceptible and all this can happen without personnel even knowing its taking place. Microcircuits inside electronic equipment perceive a static discharge as a giant lightning bolt that can literally melt down the delicate pathways inside the circuit. Unfortunately, our need for ever more convenient, smarter and smaller devices has intensified the ESD problem.
How Can Flooring Systems Impact ESD?
Flooring is the primary site for ESD generation, so naturally the easiest place to mitigate the problem is with the use of static control flooring. Almost all floor coverings can be manufactured with some sort of static protective properties. Often these properties are only achieved when combined with the right atmospheric conditions or with a rigorous daily maintenance schedule of applying antistatic fugitive toppings. In the 40s and 50s ESD floors were only available in black. Either conductive carbon filled coatings or conductive rubber.
APF is proud to offer the StatRez™ product line of permanent static control coatings available in a variety of pastel colors. The StatRez products prevent electrostatic damage to electronic products and equipment, limit the ability of personnel to build up a charge on their person and quickly remove a charge on a person or equipment. The coatings maintain their static control properties throughout the thickness of the system and work independently from humidity. All StatRez products conform to the strictest VOC regulations in the country as well. Whatever your environment may require there is a StatRez product that will meet the demands of static control, personal safety and aesthetics.
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