Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)

Electrostatic charges or discharges (ESD) are a common occurrence in daily life. Activities as mundane as emptying clothing from a tumble dryer, walking across a carpet, or shaking hands with someone can result in a sudden shock or a crinkling sensation. In these situations, ESD may not seem that important or much of a problem, however in certain industries like data centers, automotive/aerospace manufacturing, and electronic manufacturing, ESD occurrences can be disastrous.

What is ESD?

Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is a brief, sudden surge of electric current between two objects that have different electrical charges. Often accompanied by a visible spark, ESD happens when one object becomes positively charged and the other becomes negatively charged. The positively charged object then carries an electrostatic charge, which can be transferred when it comes into contact with another material, resulting in an ESD event.

Electrostatic Discharge
Electrostatic Discharge

What Causes ESD?

Electrostatic discharge is usually caused by material contact. This is why it happens in everyday occurrences such as walking on carpet and coming into contact with someone. Rapid air movements or circulating fans near electronic equipment can also increase the risk of ESD.

The leading cause of ESD is dust, and keeping critical areas clean can help reduce incidents.

Dangers of ESD in Industrial Environments

ESD can be dangerous for work environments such as data centers, manufacturing, and electronics, causing issues such as:

  • Damaging exposed electronic components 
  • Causing data corruption or loss in electronics
  • Acting as an ignition source, leading to fires or explosions
  • Interfering with the normal operation of electronic equipment
  • Causing physical harm to staff if the discharge comes from a high-voltage environment

Proper training and awareness of ESD is crucial in these environments, alongside an effective ESD control and prevention plan.

Electrostatic Discharge
Electrostatic Discharge

How to Prevent ESD

Electrostatic discharges happen without warning, so prevention is the best way to manage and reduce occurrences. ESD can damage electronic equipment, so it’s important to include ESD prevention methods in your critical area to ensure your equipment is safe from these events. The following measures can be put in place to help with this:
  • Use ESD-safe flooring and mats to cover the floor in critical areas
  • Ensure all equipment and furniture are ESD-safe
  • Place antistatic mats on desks to protect equipment from ESD
  • Remove anything unnecessary from critical areas
  • Wear ESD-safe shoes
  • Use static-reducing packaging where needed

How does Dycem® help to prevent ESD?

Dycem® mats are designed to attract, collect, and retain up to 99.9% of foot and wheel-borne contamination and 75% of airborne contamination, creating a particle- and dust-free environment that inhibits static build-up. Dycem mats have a surface resistivity that effectively dissipates static at 10⁸ ohms, reducing the risk of damage from electrostatic discharge (ESD). By allowing charges to flow to the ground slowly and in a controlled manner, static dissipative materials prevent discharge to or from human contact.