Electrostatic discharge is a concept commonly used in the manufacture and repair of electronics. Nevertheless, there are still cases where entire batches of products have to be repaired or even withdrawn from the market due to defects linked to negligence in antistatic protection. In this article we will discuss the basic issues of antistatic protection and look at the possibilities of its actual implementation in a modern company.
Antistatic discharge – commonly referred to as ESD (Electrostatic Discharge) – is the transfer of charges between objects with different electrical potential. Electrostatic charges are created when two different materials are rubbed or separated. Daily examples of such situations include walking on a synthetic floor, rubbing synthetic clothes, moving plastic containers or unwinding adhesive tape.
Discharges of this type are characterized by high voltage, which at air humidity below 20% can reach up to 30 kV. Values of this order easily damage electronic components. For example, the ESD sensitivity of selected components can be given: VMOS – 30-1800V, MOSFET – 100-200V, GaAsFET – 100-300V, EPROM – 100V, JFET 140-7000V. Damage to components can result in the production of faulty electronics with a number of potential consequences – increased costs, loss of reputation and, in extreme cases, even the need for product recalls. This risk is generally reduced in the electronics manufacturing and repair industry by creating properly designed and equipped Electrostatic Protected Areas (EPA). Appropriate floors, equipment, tools, furniture and workwear are key here.
Here the offer of antistatic furniture and clothing of the award-winning and widely recognized Polish brand REECO deserves special attention. As practice shows – just having an equipped zone is pointless when appropriate antistatic protection practices and procedures are not developed and maintained. Proper awareness and understanding of the issue by employees is crucial for this. What is important – electrostatic discharges are not visible and their effects are often only detected after a long time. Therefore, there is no obvious, immediate signal showing the employee that his or her actions are wrong. This means that this issue cannot be learned through practice. Professional ESD training is therefore crucial. In Poland they are conducted by RENEX Electronics Education Center – the largest IPC Training Centre in Central and Eastern Europe.
As part of the original courses, the centre offers courses in antistatic protection – RTC-01 Static electricity – protection of electronic devices – 8-hour in profile for operators and 16-hour in profile for coordinators. The training for operators is aimed at people who have contact with electronics in the production or service process and allows them to gain knowledge necessary for working with components sensitive to static discharges.
The training programme covers, among other things, issues such as the theory of electrostatic mechanisms, basic knowledge of electrostatic discharge, handling electronic components and modules, protection measures, ESDS identification in equipment (electrostatic discharge-sensitive instruments), the scope of application of protection, ESDS sensitivity or the use of new technologies, processes and antistatic equipment’.
Advanced training – aimed at coordinators, EPAs, ESD auditors or employees of companies operating in the electronics industry.
The programme of this training has been extended to include such issues as requirements for the establishment and use of ESDPs, staff responsibility for the application of security measures, the role of the ESD coordinator, staff training, conducting audits of EPAs, creating reports in accordance with international recommendations, or making measurements and drafting reports. The aim of the training is to raise awareness of the risks arising from electrostatic discharges and effective methods of their prevention. They shall allow for the effective training of personnel working with discharge-sensitive electronics, thus minimising the risk of negligence and increasing the effectiveness of the security zones. In conclusion, the training of the ESD is a key element for the proper functioning of the static protection zones. If you are interested, please contact the RENEX IPC Authorised Training Centre – www.ipctraining.pl. More about the issue of static protection in the ESD Handbook – Protection against static discharges in an electronic environment available free of charge for subscribers to the RENEX newsletter.