In the world of manufacturing, where cutting-edge technology and sensitive electronic equipment are the norm, the invisible menace of electrostatic discharge poses a constant challenge. Uncontrolled ESD can wreak havoc on delicate electronics, disrupt critical manufacturing processes and even compromise the safety of personnel.
To safeguard against the perils of ESD, resin flooring solutions have emerged as a frontline defence, providing a reliable barrier to dissipate or conduct static charges. Among these solutions, vebrostatic ESD SL stands out, with two key variations – conductive and dissipative – to address varying electrostatic control requirements.
Understanding electrostatic discharge (ESD)
Electrostatic discharge (ESD) might be an invisible force, but its effects can be far from inconspicuous.
Picture this: you’re in a bustling industrial facility, surrounded by state-of-the-art electronics, circuit boards, and intricate machinery. As workers move around, friction between their shoes and the floor generates static electricity. Suddenly, a spark leaps from a fingertip, and before you know it, that crucial electronic component you were working on is fried beyond repair.
ESD occurs when two objects with different electric potentials come into contact or separate, leading to a sudden and brief flow of electricity. This discharge can be as low as a few volts, or it can reach several thousand volts – more than enough to cause significant damage. While we humans might not feel the effects of ESD at such low voltages, sensitive electronic devices are alarmingly vulnerable.
The primary culprits of ESD include the simple act of walking across a floor, handling electronic components and even something as mundane as sitting down on a chair. In a world where electronics are integral to our lives and industries, it’s crucial to prevent this electrostatic threat.
Conductive and dissipative resin flooring solutions can provide vital protection, providing a pathway for static charges to flow safely away, preventing sparks and discharges from causing harm. vebrostatic ESD SL systems have become trusted go-to solutions, owing to their remarkable ability to manage electrostatic discharge effectively.
Conductive vs dissipative: ESD protection defined
The terms “conductive” and “dissipative” represent distinct resistance categories that describe how electrical currents flow across or through flooring materials.
The choice between these two options is not a matter of superiority. Instead, it entirely hinges on the specific application criteria, the type of flooring material and the existing EPA controls within the environment.
In either case, the goal remains the same – to enhance ESD protection. Achieving this is often accomplished by installing the flooring over a grid of copper tape and effectively earthing it to the ground. This approach ensures that static charges find a reliable pathway to disperse harmlessly, contributing to a safer and more controlled environment.
Static dissipative floors allow static electricity to disperse or ‘dissipate’ in a controlled manner. At the heart of this technology lies the strategic manipulation of surface resistance, a key parameter defining the floor’s ability to control electrical current flow.
The surface resistance of static dissipative floors typically falls within a specific range, usually between 1×10⁶ ohms and 1×10⁹ ohms. This controlled resistance level strikes a delicate balance, enabling static charges to dissipate gradually and predictably. Unlike conductive flooring, which offers rapid charge dissipation, static dissipative floors gently guide static electricity away, reducing the risk of rapid charge transfer that could endanger sensitive electronics or critical processes.
To achieve the precise surface resistance, static dissipative flooring materials are carefully formulated with conductive additives. These additives enhance the floor’s ability to maintain a consistent electrical resistance, ensuring that the surface remains within the desired range and functions effectively as an ESD control mechanism.
Static dissipative floors find their application in areas where precision and safety are paramount, such as computer rooms, x-ray suites, operating theatres and electronics manufacturing facilities. In these settings, maintaining a controlled electrostatic environment is crucial to safeguarding sensitive equipment and ensuring uninterrupted operations.
Conductive floors offer a different approach to ESD control, providing a rapid and efficient pathway for electrostatic charge dissipation. The technology behind conductive flooring emphasises low electrical resistance, allowing any static charge that accumulates to be dispelled much quicker.
The surface resistance of static conductive floors is defined as being between 1×10⁴ ohms and 1×10⁶ ohms. This lower resistance level creates an efficient pathway for rapid charge dissipation, effectively preventing any buildup that could lead to costly defects or potential hazards.
Conductive flooring materials are engineered to exhibit higher electrical conductivity, facilitating the swift flow of electrical charges. This high conductivity ensures that any static electricity generated in the environment is promptly redirected away, neutralising the risk of ESD incidents.
Conductive floors are usually chosen for environments where very sensitive components are being handled, such as on electronic assembly lines or in settings where electrostatic charge may present a fire or explosion risk. In these dynamic environments, even the slightest static discharge could lead to disastrous consequences, making conductive flooring an indispensable safeguard.
Maintenance & longevity of ESD resin flooring
The investment in ESD resin flooring extends far beyond just initial installation – it paves the way for long-term protection and reliability. Proper maintenance practices are essential to uphold the effectiveness of ESD resin flooring, ensuring its optimal performance and longevity throughout its service life.
Implementing a routine cleaning regimen to keep ESD resin flooring free from dust, dirt, and contaminants that might hinder its electrostatic control properties is critical. Regular sweeping or vacuuming will prevent the buildup of debris and particulates that could compromise the flooring’s effectiveness.
While neutral or pH-balanced cleaning agents are typically suitable, harsh chemicals, film-forming chemicals or abrasive cleaning products should be avoided, as they may diminish the floor’s ESD protection and damage its surface.
Spills and stains on the flooring should be addressed promptly to prevent any potential damage to the resin material. Timely cleanup helps maintain the floor’s integrity and ensures its continued effectiveness in controlling static electricity.
Due to its lower resistance, conductive flooring may require more frequent monitoring to ensure its conductivity remains within the optimal range for efficient charge dissipation. Regular checks of the floor’s electrical resistance will help identify any potential issues that might compromise its ESD protection.
With its controlled discharge properties, dissipative flooring may be relatively easier to maintain, but regular inspections remain essential to ensure it meets the specified resistance criteria. Monitoring the floor’s electrical resistance will ensure that it consistently provides the desired level of static charge dissipation.
Vebro Polymers’ ESD self-levelling systems are available in both epoxy and PU variants, with both technologies also covering the conductive and dissipative electrostatic discharge requirements.
vebrostatic ESD SL (Conductive) and vebrostatic ESD SL (Dissipative) – and their PU alternatives vebrostatic PU ESD SL (Conductive) and vebrostatic PU ESD SL (Dissipative), are designed with a specific purpose – safeguarding sensitive electronics and delicate equipment from the destructive effects of ESD.
From electronics manufacturing facilities to laboratories, data centres and cleanrooms, these resilient flooring options offer an array of benefits.
The primary function of vebrostatic ESD SL solutions is to neutralise static electricity, preventing ESD incidents that could lead to costly equipment damage or data loss. vebrostatic systems are designed to meet various ESD standards including DIN EN 1081, DIN EN 61340-4-1 & DIN, EN 61340-4-5 and DIN EN 61340-5-1; 5×10⁴ – 1×10⁹ Ω.
By eliminating sparks and discharges, vebrostatic ESD SL flooring not only shields delicate components from the harmful effects of ESD, but it also ensures a safer working environment for personnel, minimising the risk of accidental shocks or fires.
vebrostatic systems demonstrate excellent resistance to fuels, lubricants, solvents and other chemicals, as well as preventing fire and explosion risk from electrostatic charge.
FeRFA is the UK’s leading trade association for the industrial and commercial resin flooring, screeding and surface preparation industries.
The leading authority for over 50 years on resin flooring systems, FeRFA has led the way in promoting the benefits of resin flooring as a high-performance solution for industrial and commercial applications, as well as taking a leading role in developing national and international standards for resin flooring, screeding and surface preparation.
According to FeRFA, solutions categorised as Type 5 are seamless, durable flooring systems that suitable for medium to heavy-duty commercial and industrial applications.
Typically two-component and applied using a roller or trowel, polymer flooring that fits into this category is ideal for areas subject to heavy foot traffic, equipment and light vehicular traffic.
The joint free application and self-levelling formulation of vebrostatic ESD SL systems results in an easy to clean surface that helps to keep sensitive processing environments free from contamination from dust, dirt and debris.
vebrostatic in action
Vebro Polymers’ ESD flooring range has transformed the facilities of a number of blue-chip clients including BMW, Schlumberger and Sartorius Group where vebrostatic PU ESD SL (Conductive) was chosen to deliver a conductive solution for the production areas of the company’s new facility.
2,600 m2 of the polyurethane ESD control flooring, which meets all of the requirements set out in EN 1081, EN 61340-5-1, AgBB low emissions and has a fire resistance rating of Bfl-s1, was installed throughout in production and processing areas at Sartorius’ new site on Stanbridge Road in Hampshire, UK.
That’s a wrap
In the ever-evolving world of electrostatic discharge control, the technological marvels of static dissipative and conductive floors shine as indispensable assets. These specialised flooring solutions, each with its unique characteristics, contribute to the safe, reliable and efficient operation of diverse industries and critical environments.
As industries continue to push the boundaries of technology, the importance of ESD control becomes increasingly paramount. The meticulous understanding of static dissipative and conductive flooring technologies empowers businesses to make informed decisions when selecting the right flooring solution for their unique needs. With proper implementation and maintenance, these innovative flooring systems stand ready to deliver long-lasting protection, ensuring the longevity and reliability of sensitive electronic equipment, critical processes and, most importantly, the safety of those who work within these specialised environments.
We think there’s a spark…
If you’re an applicator looking for ESD polymer flooring for your next industrial flooring project, or a facility owner or operator in need of a high-performance solution to upgrade your space, get in touch with your local Vebro team to discuss project requirements.
Enjoyed this article? Here are a few more we think you’ll like…
- Hygienic heavyweights: Comparing vebrocrete RT and vebrocrete HF for demanding food & beverage processing applications
- Conductive vs. dissipative: Comparing vebrostatic ESD SL versions for electrostatic discharge control
- A tale of two quartz finishes: Delving into the differences of vebrores EP Quartz Classic and vebrores EP Quartz SR