What Is Electrostatic discharge (ESD)

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is the release of static electricity when two objects come into contact. Familiar examples of ESD include the shock we receive when we walk across a carpet and touch a metal doorknob and the static electricity we feel after drying clothes in a clothes dryer. A more extreme example of ESD is a lightening bolt. While most ESD events are harmless, it can be an expensive problem in many industrial environments.

ESD first requires a build-up of an electrostatic charge. This occurs when two different materials rub together. One of the materials becomes positively charged; the other becomes negatively charged. The positively-charged material now has an electrostatic charge. When that charge comes into contact with the right material, it is transferred and we have an ESD event.

Manufacturers of electronic devices incorporate measures to prevent ESD events throughout the manufacturing, testing, shipping, and handling processes. For example, an employee may wear a wrist strap when working with devices or may wear ESD control footwear and work on an ESD floor mat that causes the electrostatic charge to go into the ground instead of into the device. Sensitive devices can be packaged with materials that shield the product from a charge.

ANSI/ESD S20.20 is the multi-industry standard for the development of ESD control programs that protect today’s increasingly sensitive electronic components, assemblies, and equipment from costly ESD damage and reduce down-time. Using the standard’s control methods and guidance, an organization can develop an ESD control program that protects devices down to 100v (class 1a) or less.

ANSI/ESD S20.20 is based on these fundamental static control principles:

  • All conductors in a given facility must be bonded or electrically connected and attached to a known ground or contrived ground;
  • All necessary non-conductors in a facility cannot be allowed to lose their electrostatic charge by attachment to or connection with ground; and
  • Moving or transporting ESD-sensitive items outside of an electrostatic discharge protected area requires the use of static protective materials.
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