All electronic devices are susceptible to electrical damage, as are the people who work on them. One common hazard is electrostatic discharge or ESD. This phenomenon occurs when there is an electrical difference between two conductive materials close to each other and sufficient voltage exists between them. The resulting charge imbalance can damage semiconductors, cause logic errors, and can lead to potentially dangerous electrical shocks.

With sensitive components and manufacturing processes, ESD control is critical in preventing component damage and scrap rates. Regardless of industry, many companies have an ESD control program in place, which includes an analysis of the process risk level and a plan for reducing ESD events.

However, with different industries having different needs for their programs, no one solution fits all. That’s why there are various types of ESD flooring systems available to help manage ESD according to specific needs.

What Is ESD Flooring?

ESD Flooring is the simplest, and most effective solution to ESD control. The materials used in ESD flooring are specially formulated to ground or dissipate electrostatic charges before they have a chance to harm sensitive electronic components and materials.

There are two basic types of flooring systems that control ESD: conductive and dissipative. The difference between these systems is how they provide a path to ground for discharges.

A conductive flooring system has a conductive top layer of materials (such as copper) that provide a continuous path to ground for accumulated electrical charges. A dissipative flooring system on the other hand, uses metallic, polymer, or other thick grounds and/or surface treatments to dissipate charges above the floor surface. Conductive floors are mostly used in production areas where resistance to wear and chemicals is a major concern.

Treating the floor with ESD-Flooring when manufacturing electronics helps eliminate BVG (Body Voltage Generation) from affecting the product. Moreover, it is capable of absorbing a substantial amount of electrical charge and does not affect product appearance or performance. This leads to higher yields, less scrap, and lower costs while improving product quality.

How Does It Work?

A properly functioning ESD Protected Area (EPA) shall provide the following:

  • Complete equipment protection for people working in areas where electrostatic hazards are present.
  • Low voltage walking path for workers to safely navigate the EPA without discharging hazardous levels of static electricity back into devices.
  • Proper grounding measures.

The goal of an ESD Flooring System is to create a discharging surface that will concentrate electrical charge and protect sensitive electronic components such as PCBs, found on most modern assemblies today.

So how does it work? An ESD floor is applied to the subfloor of a facility. As part of an integrated ESD control program, the floor acts as the second level of defense from harmful static discharges (BVG).

The floor’s neutrality is critical to the overall effectiveness of the (EPA). The floor must contain particles of conductive material that are uniformly dispersed throughout the coating. This allows for a resistive path to ground, thereby eliminating static buildup and reducing the possibility of BVG.

Why Do We Need It?

In today’s manufacturing environment, it is important to control ESD to protect the electronics in your company’s products from damage.

Electronic products are made up of thousands of tiny connections between chips and circuit boards and are therefore very sensitive to static electricity. This is why many manufacturers use anti-static flooring for protection against static charges, which can damage circuits and cause costly product recalls.

Anti-static flooring may also be used to protect the employees working on or around the electronics or circuit boards from shocks. In addition, ESG flooring provides a non-slip surface that is safe for walking on and working with.

Who Can Benefit From ESD Flooring?

Many applications require a static dissipative floor (ESD) that is capable of transporting static charge from personnel and equipment to an ESD grounding system. For people who work with sensitive electronics especially, ESD precautions such as ESD flooring are necessary to prevent damage.

An ESD floor can be used inside or outside of a manufacturing facility and within any industry, including electronics, semiconductors, medical devices, pharmaceuticals, aerospace, government, and military.

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