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Static Electricity Educational Paper
Static Electricity problems and solutions can be perplexing that is why we offer a brief simplified educational presentation or you can call use at 877-511-3628 for our professional guidance and it's free.


Static electricity is an electric charge caused by an imbalance of electrons on the surface of a material. It is most commonly caused by the contact and separation of materials. The area of contact, the speed of separation, relative humidity and other factors determine the amount of charge created in this process.

An example of this occurrence would be a person walking across the floor. Static electricity is generated as their shoe soles contact and separate from the floor surface. The amount of static electricity generated will increase due to the size of the sole surface, lower humidity and increased speed of movement.

The shock we receive upon touching another object is the transfer of the static charge or balancing of our charge to that of the object. This transfer is called Electrostatic Discharge or ESD.

Virtually all materials including water and dirt particles in the air are subject to this occurrence. The charge that is created, where it goes and how quickly is dependent on the materials characteristics and that of the materials it comes in contact with.

There are three basic types of Electrostatic Discharge (ESD).

  1. Direct ESD to a device (Most Prevalent)
  2. ESD from a device
  3. Field induced ESD

Direct ESD to a device – A person walking generates a static charge then touches a device causing a transfer of the electrostatic charge. A similar occurrence can happen when an electro statically charged device is brought in contact with another object.

ESD from a device – Automated part movements within a device can generate an electrostatic charge, which will discharge when the device is brought in contact with another object.

Field induced EDS – Whenever an object becomes electro statically charged there is an electrostatic field associated with that charge. If a device is placed in that field, a charge may be induced on it.  If the device is momentarily grounded while within that field a transfer of charge from the device will occur.

There are two categories of damage that an ESD can create.

  1. Catastrophic – a complete functional breakdown of a device.
  2. Latent Defect – a partial degrading of the device that will down grade its productivity and longevity.

Because we cannot eliminate the generation of static in the work place, it is necessary to safely dissipate or neutralize electrostatic charges that do occur. This can be accomplished by proper grounding in conjunction with the use of Conductive or Anti-Static (dissipative) mats.

Materials are rated as Conductive if their surface resistivity is 101 to 105 ohm, Anti-Static (Static Dissipative) – 105 to 1012 ohm and Non-Conductive (Insulator) higher than 1012 ohm. The fastest neutralization of ESD being 101 ohm and the slowest is jus under 1012 ohm.

Conductive Mats (101 to 105 ohm) have a low electrical resistance which allows ESD to flow across its surface. When attached to an earth grounding point the ESD will flow to ground and the excess charge on the mat and individual will be neutralized.

Anti-Static Mats (105 to 1012 ohm) have a higher electrical resistance than conductive mats. Like conductive mats they will allow ESD to flow across its surface but in at a slower rate. This slower neutralization of ESD prevents damage to microcircuit devices which cannot tolerate a sudden flow of static charge from the device to a grounded mat.

Non-Conductive Mats (Insulator) (1012 ohm or higher) prevent the flow of ESD across its surface. These mats are used in high voltage environments where the movement of electrical charges is not desired.  In this case the movement or attraction of electricity could be life threatening.

It is important to note that an ungrounded Conductive or Anti-Static Mat will retain an ESD and transfer the charge to the next object it comes in contact with.

It is also recommended that all devices, Conductive and Anti-Static Mats be grounded to the same common point ground. This essentially brings all components to the same electrical potential.

Selecting the proper type of ESD neutralizing mat is determined by the following factors:

·Rate of Neutralization – For most applications anti-static mats that neutralize ESD in the range of 105 to 1011 ohm will effectively handle most static situations in the work environment. Dissipation of static electric charges will occur at a rapid but controlled rate.

Purpose – This addresses other criteria such as anti-fatigue, slip resistant and dιcor.

Environment – Takes into consideration the type of floor the mat will be placed on, carpeted or hard surface. Use of the wrong type of mat on a carpeted floor can create a trip hazard or a mat that is constantly moving. Most rubber and vinyl Conductive and Anti-Static Mats will not withstand the use of chairs or carts. The weight plus the action of the wheels will cause the mats to move and prematurely breakdown. Only static control mats specifically designed for use on carpeting or under chairs should be used for these situations.

Cost – The most expensive mat may not be the best solution to the problem.  Conductive mats, the most expensive, can damage devices containing microcircuits by draining static charges too rapidly.

Wrist & Shoe Straps - These items are designed to provide the highest level of contact with an individual and a static dissipative control device (floor mat, work surface, ground plug, etc.)  They serve strictly as a channel for removing static electricity.  Simply wearing a strap accomplishes nothing unless proper contact to a grounded static removal device or object is made.   

Determining the proper product for a situation can usually be determined by comparing your requirements to the information we have listed.  While it would be wonderful to be able to purchase one product to eliminate every static electricity problem that is not the case.  Every static problem is unique because of numerous factors, many of which are distinct to each individual problem.  The best method of dealing with static electricity problems is to implement solutions that are least intrusive to individuals such as a floor mat.  Often this will completely solve the problem but sometimes it only decreases it.  It is may be necessary to institute additional remedies in the order of least intrusive too most intrusive (work surface to heel grounders to wrist straps).

If in doubt give us a call (877-511-3628 lower-48 or 941-778-0974 outside the lower-48). We can recommend a variety of solutions to every problem.



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