How Incorrect Use of ESD Control Products Can Do More Harm than Good

This article is based on an original publication by Desco Industries.

It's no secret that a comprehensive ESD program can contribute to enhanced product quality, customer satisfaction and productivity. Unfortunately, frequent misuse of ESD control products can lead to more harm than good.

Electronic components sensitive to ESD damage require protection throughout the manufacturing process. According to ANSI/ESD S20.20, the ESD Association's standard for the development of Electrostatic Discharge Control Program, safeguards are required during activities that "manufacture, process, assemble, install, package, label, service, test, inspect or otherwise handle electrical or electronic parts assemblies and equipment susceptible to damage by electrostatic discharges."

Latent ESD damage to products - defects which are not detected through normal inspection - during the manufacturing process can prove quite costly. Because it cannot be seen or felt at less than 3,000 volts, ESD damage can easily become a hidden enemy.

In reality, ESD control is as crucial to manufacturing facilities as sterilization procedures are to healthcare facilities. While it does require discipline, the basics are simple:

  • Incorporate ground conductors
  • Use ionizers to remove, convert or neutralize insulators
  • Protect ESD sensitive items

There are many ESD control products available with added conductive, dissipative or shielding properties including packaging, floor and worksurface mats, floor finish, document holders, tape, and more. Most of these options serve to convert an insulating or non-conductive product to a conductive or dissipative item which can be grounded. All items, however, should be working together as a system. The following are examples of ESD control product misuse.


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