Create a static-free work environment

Edited by Rich, Charmed, Eng, Anonymous and 7 others

It is important to safeguard a work area from electrostatic discharges as a single shock will easily ruin an electrical project.

Regardless of how technologically advanced electrical components, such as computer parts, have become they may still be broken by a stray electrical shock. Technicians use a variety of tools to lessen the chance of discharges. The best practice is to create a static-free work place.

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Electrostatic discharge is caused when two objects that have been rubbing against each other are separated. Have you ever run through the carpet in socks then touched a doorknob? The spark and noise are created from the friction between the socks and the carpet. The discharge happens because the doorknob acts as a ground. The charge passes through your body to the doorknob.

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The same principles can cause electrostatic discharge when handling electrical components. However, the shock will not have the same magnitude; It may not be heard or seen. The friction between hairs, skin, and clothes can be enough to create an electrostatic discharge strong enough to damage electronics. Thankfully, devices and safe habits can prevent the loss of electronics due to electrostatic discharge.

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Instructions

  1. 1
    Discharge before handling.
    SolderingPad TopDown.jpg
    Touching something metal, besides the electrical component, for 1 second will discharge any static electricity you may have built up.
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  2. 2
    Work on one item at a time.
    Do not switch between multiple items of different materials without being grounded. Frequently picking up different objects creates more static electricity.
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  3. 3
    Ground the work area.
    Use ESD-Safe tools to ground yourself or the work area. This allows any built up electrical charge to dissipate. The following are grounding tools that should be used in the workspace.
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  4. 4
    Wear an antistatic wrist wrap.
    An antistatic wrist strap conducts electricity from your body to the connected surface. They have a clip on one end that must be attached to metal and a strap which holds the bracelet in place around the wrist. A channel is created that directs electricity to the metal and away from the hands.
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  5. 5
    Alternately, use antistatic heel straps.
    Heel straps fit around shoes and the ankle and complete a ground on each step. Electrostatic charge is dissipated continuously.
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  6. 6
    Antistatic mat.
    Antistatic mats are made from materials which do not provide grounding. The mats are typically constructed of rubber, silicon, or vinyl. Here is an example of a simple, in-home technician setup which uses a silicon heat-resistant, antistatic mat.
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  7. 7
    Use conductive flooring.
    No one wants to walk around barefoot in the work place so use conductive flooring instead. Conductive flooring is typically manufactured from vinyl, rubber, or tile.
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  8. 8
    Wear conductive clothes.
    An amazing number of cool things can be made with conductive clothes. The fabric is woven with metal fibers, nylon, polyester, and other fibers to create material that can conduct electricity. Conductive clothing in the work place will stop a static discharge from building up from friction between bodies and clothes.
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Tips Tricks & Warnings

  • Touch something metal. If you are not a technician, or do not have any static-free tools nearby you can dispel the built up charge by touching something metal with bare skin before handling electronics.
  • Play it safe. It is always better to be safe than be sorry. Especially when being sorry can cost hundreds of dollars!
  • ESD Safe. ESD-Safe products are designed to reduce electrostatic discharge. You may see this moniker on tools and materials.

Questions and Answers

What is the method for storing critical instrument spare parts in a separate static-free area?

I don't know how to store the spare parts for our critical instruments in a static-free area.

Any spare parts should be stored in an insulated case, with each part physically separated from the others by an static-free padded compartment. This is because failing to store components separately can result in them bumping, which can cause physical damage, or rubbing together, which can create static charge and damage them.

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Make sure that the insulated case you are using is also one that will not be conducive to generating a charge if the spare parts are in a situation where they can rub against the container, or move around. An example of this would be traveling in a vehicle, where the vibrations of travel would cause the spare parts to shake as you were traveling. In this case, a charge could be generated that would damage the components if proper procedures were not observed when removing the components.

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Can I reduce the chance of static electricity killing my components by using nitrile gloves while working on them?

I'm building several mosfet. I fear working on a tile floor and touching a piece of metal before I start may not be enough. I find the wrist strap rather obstructive.

Nitrile gloves help from an electric shock, but cannot protect from static electricity, which will be stored upon the gloves: again, static electricity cannot be insulated by wearing nitrile gloves, and touching metal can be, in addition, dangerous, if you store enough of static charge, which is high with tile floor and dry air. The solution for you would be using a static strap connected to your leg or shoulder at one end.

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Is a glass table with metal legs static free?

I'm looking at building my own PC but I need a static free environment to ensure I won't damage any of the components. The build area I have in mind is my glass table with metal legs on a tile surface, is that a suitable area with minimal static?. I have tried: I've researched a bit but I haven't found anything about what I need.. I think it was caused by: N/A

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Wearing only foot straps and not wrist straps, safe for working with HDD equipment?

At my company we are only required to wear foot straps. I want to make a recommendation about wrist grounding.. I have tried: Only foot straps. I think it was caused by: No proper ESD knowledge

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About to install laptop battery?

Hi. I'm trying to prepare a safe workplace in which to install a laptop battery, which I haven't done before. The how-to video I'm using suggests it's pretty easy, as do my friends, but the video suggests creating a static-free workplace for this. I'm not sure how to do that at home with no particular tools. I was reading this article when you popped up ...

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Categories : Tech

Recent edits by: RubenHDDTech, buppy1152, A Rios

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