Why Use ESD Mats? How Do They Work? Charge Decay in ACTION!
Darn those Electrons! If they'd just stay balanced while circling the atom static electricity wouldn't exist! There are four ways static is generated. Charge induced, heat induced, pressure induced and THE most common (in electronic assembly environments) contact and separation. All cause an imbalance of electrons. Whether it's a person's clothes against their skin or the contact and separation of a person's shoes when walking on an electrically insulative floor (like standard tiles and carpeting). It's easy to generate a static charge! A static charge is electrons in search of a balanced life and ultimately - an earth ground.
ESD TABLE TOP MATS: When a technician or a static laden product comes into contact with an ESD table top mat something impressively cool happens! You can't see it, feel it or hear it but sophisticated test instruments can, and, it looks like THIS:
In this case the errant technician has approached that static mat with a charge of about 2,000 Volts. Does this sound like a LOT of Voltage? In reality 2,000 volts is EASY to generate (example you can get up from a standard padded chair and generate an EASY 800 volts)! The tech contacts the mat (in this case our 167-AS) and the charge dissipates from 2kV to nearly zero volts in a "slow" controlled fashion (a little under one second for this mat but in static that is SLOW). It's a fact! When you have items sitting on your bench you can cause as much damage from discharging too quickly as you can from not discharging at all!
ESD FLOOR MATS: It's SO cold outside that sweaters and jackets are in order! The technician goes into a nice warm but extremely DRY building. The Technician walks across a carpeted entry way then strolls leisurely across a standard vinyl tile floor to towards his workstation. He puts on a set of ESD heel straps yet still carries a charge of roughly 2,500 volts! Why?
Heel straps don't work when standing on an electrically insulative floor (like the vinyl flooring used in this assembly area). He steps on an ESD floor mat and it happens! IT can't be seen, felt nor heard but sophisticated test instruments tell the tale!
And IT looks like THIS:
The discharge of this mat (in this case our Titanium chair mat) is every bit as good as standing on an ESD floor! It is nearly instantaneous! And (as it is at floor level) there is no need to slow the charge decay. Don't get fooled! There are many mats on the market but consider the seller before you buy. Do they specialize in static control? We'll tell you if a mat is made for compliance to a specific standard will THEY? Our recommendation: Don't cut corners if working with ESD sensitive product in an "unprotected" status (example not in a shielding bag or enclosure). If you need to save your ESD Program some money consider your process FIRST!
Don't pay for more than you need! Not every station may need to meet a stringent ANSI Standard for building electronics! As an example, when packaging items in a protected status consider a homogenous "economy" table top mat material like our EconoStat. Do you simply need to reduce nuisance static and not feel a ZAP? Consider our ElectraStat 175-AS antistatic floor mat. A mat that post an electrical resistance above 1.0E09 (above the holy grail used in manufacturing) can still be anti-static and can do an EXCELLENT job of decaying static and keeping the static generation down while helping to keep the items clean and free of dust, lint etc. Plus - they save money big time!
How do we know? Well for one we've been supplying ESD matting since 1992 and secondly we TEST all of our mats to not only electrical resistance but to charge generation and charge decay using NIST compliance lab grade test equipment. Somehow I doubt U-line and Amazon can do that for you! Let our expertise help you. Feel free to contact us and share your needs - we'll point you in the direction of the PERFECT mat, you'll know it works and be happy with your decision. You have our word!
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