Avoid Common Pitfalls When Specifying Anti Static Flooring for Your Manufacturing Facility
Most electronics manufacturing and test facilities use some sort of anti static flooring, in order to prevent component failure. This static control flooring is described by different names: anti static, static dissipative, ESD, conductive, dissipative, grounded, static-free, and static resistant.
Static control flooring must prevent static build-up and allow the safe dissipation of pre-existing static charges on people, equipment/carts, chassis and seating. If due diligence is performed, a static control floor fulfills the buyer’s expectations. If the flooring is not properly evaluated as part of an entire ESD control system, with all environmental factors considered, then it is entirely possible that the floor can contribute to the same problems that is was designed to eliminate.
A common pitfall that buyers fall into when choosing an ESD floor, is the failure to recognize that floors are only one piece of a comprehensive, multifaceted static prevention system. Static dissipative flooring cannot be evaluated in isolation. To ensure proper function, ESD flooring must be tested in conjunction with other ESD control components, including conductive footwear. If the ESD floor and the live resin carts conductive footwear are not compatible, the floor will not be in compliance with ESD Association standards, which limit body voltage generation to a maximum of 100 volts.
Prior to selecting the antistatic flooring and the controlled footwear, different scenarios should be identified. Personnel cannot sense static charge accumulation, until the discharge reaches 3500 volts or greater. Workers could easily generate 500 volts of static charge on the new floor, and not realize it. Therefore, the footwear should be evaluated at the same time as a new ESD floor.
It is critical to perform system tests that measure resistance and body voltage generation, in the area, under normal conditions. This is very important for any dissipative and resinous (epoxy or urethane) floor coatings. The range used to define dissipative materials is broad (ranging from 1 million to 1 Billion ohms). Many epoxy manufacturers and distributors carry high resistance, dissipative floors (over 100 million ohms). However, these floors often generate human body voltages that exceed several hundred volts! To ensure onsite tested body voltage generation less than 100 volts, it is recommended that the resinous floor selected, meets a resistance range of 1-35 million ohms. This will ensure that less than 100 volts (body voltage generation) shall be maintained. Also, buyers should perform ESD tests on site, rather than relying on the results from the manufacturers. Resinous floors are “manufactured” on site; since every installation is “custom”, materials must be tested, to ensure that the floor installed in a building is the same, as the floor that was tested in the lab.