Electrostatic discharge, ESD, is the sudden spontaneous transfer of electric current. 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? Copy machines, computers, medical and communications equipment are all susceptible to ESD. This can happen without personnel even knowing its taking place. The micro-miniaturization of electronics has intensified ESD sensitivity. Manufacturers can no longer design special circuit protectors into their devices. These can be damaged by as little as 25 volts.
ESD can trigger two types of failures: catastrophic and latent. Catastrophic failures result in a component failing testing. Latent failures are caused by discharge not large enough to trigger a complete failure but can still weaken the component. This often allows the component to pass testing and the mysteriously fail during use. Ninety percent of all failures are latent failures.
How ESD Flooring Works
Since flooring is the primary site for ESD generation, the logical place to mitigate the problem is with the use of static control flooring. ESD floor coatings and coverings are made to limit static build-up in people and objects and to quickly remove a charge on people and equipment. There are two generic types of ESD floor treatments: conductive and dissipative. The main distinction between an ESD conductive and dissipative floor treatments is that conductive flooring has lower resistance to electrical flow and dissipative flooring is more resistant to the flow of electrical current.
ESD Flooring Types
ESD Vinyl Tile
ESD tile is one of the oldest forms of ESD flooring. Vinyl tile does not support heavy load traffic in manufacturing areas. The unwaxed vinyl tile does not have the appearance of a traditional waxed floor. The development of antistatic waxes are very labor intensive and rely on atmospheric moisture to function properly. There is no way to ensure the wax is performing properly without daily testing, resulting in stripping and reapplying wax over short time intervals.
ESD carpet cannot stand high traffic as the fibers break down rendering the carpet non-conductive. Modern carpet tiles have addressed most of the drawbacks of “computer-grade” carpet, but they are not practical for manufacturing environments and high traffic areas.
In facilities with constant heavy loads and high traffic, epoxies are the most practical static control flooring material. Today’s next-generation ESD epoxies are particulate-based systems. The conductive particulates in the system make contact with each other, creating a continuous conductive network throughout the coating. Epoxy floors, however, are hard and do not have anti-fatigue properties or sound deadening properties.
Arizona Polymer Flooring ESD Coating
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.
Arizona Polymer Flooring StatRez® Static Control Coatings protect areas requiring “static dissipative” or “conductive” flooring. They prevent electrostatic damage, limit the ability of personnel to build up an electric charge, and quickly remove a charge from people or equipment. StatRez ESD coatings come in a variety of options, including abrasion, traffic, impact and highly chemical resistant conductive and dissipative versions.
(Source Arizona Polymer Flooring)