In this article I will help you with understanding what are static bags, how important are they and how to choose one.
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Table of Contents
What Are Anti Static Bags?
Anti static bags are plastic bags that are designed to counter the potentially disastrous consequences of electrostatic discharge.
Due to friction and other environmental factors, surfaces can accumulate a positive or negative charge. If this charge is transferred from one place to another, it can cause damage to sensitive structures in the surrounding.
That is why this charge needs to be grounded safely. Anti-static bags serve to protect sensitive objects from the effects of ESD.
In this guide, we will learn about how anti static bags work, what some of the best anti static bags are in the current market, and some alternatives that you can use in place of anti static bags.
What Are Anti Static Bags Made Of?
Anti static bags are usually made of plastic material, also known as polyethylene terephthalate or PET. This kind of plastic tends to have a characteristic color.
They typically have a pink or black shade if it is made of polyethylene and silver because of metalized film.
Sometimes the polyethylene bags have layers of foam or bubble wrap to give the stored components of the bag some extra protection. These multiple layers protect the contents of the anti-static bag from mechanical as well as electrostatic damage.
How Should The Bag Be Opened?
It is important to remember that your anti static bag should only be opened in locations that are determined to be free from static electricity.
While your components will remain protected inside the bag, you have to make sure that the environment they are exposed to when taken out of the bag is free of electrostatic energy as well.
So take the necessary precautions and clear out your workstation before opening your anti-static bag.
Dissipative and Conductive Anti Static Bags: How Do They Work?
When you do further research, you will find that there are two types of anti static bags: a dissipative kind and a conductive kind.
Dissipative anti static bags are made of a polyethylene material and have a dissipative coating on top of the plastic. The surface of the bag has tallow amines which allow it to adhere to moisture in the air.
Using this attraction, the surface of the bag discharges electrostatic energy to the ground, another surface, or into the surrounding atmosphere. These bags are typically denoted by a pink or red color. In case carbon is present in the polyethylene from which the bag has been fashioned, the color of the bag is black.
Conductive anti static bags, on the other hand, have a unique dielectric plastic layer with a dissipative coating, along with a layer of conductive metal. This metal, in most cases, tends to be aluminum.
The goal of such manufacturing is to employ the Faraday Cage effect to protect the internal contents of the anti-static bag. The charges and the plastic material of the bag are kept separated from each other thanks to the conductive shield and the non-conductive barrier as well.
According to the Faraday Cage effect, a mesh of conductive material creates an external field that cancels out the effects inside of the cage. This is because the charges are distributed. Conductive anti static bags are often transparent with gray or silvery sheens.
Conductive anti static bags, as a result of the additional conductive shield, tend to be more effective in protecting their contents from static electricity which is why they are used for the protection of highly sensitive and important components.
Not only that, but they are also the preferred kind of anti-static bag in critical environments such as locations where flammable material is present and may be ignited due to sparks created by electrostatic discharge.
However, the metallization of the conductive bags also makes them more prone to damage and inefficiency. Even a single puncture in the plastic surface of the bag can completely disregard the integrity of the conductive shield. Not to mention, these types of anti static automatically degrade and deteriorate over a period of time, which is why they have a limited shelf life.
Why Should Anti Static Bags Be Used?
As we have already discussed, static electricity can have disastrous consequences in certain environments and for certain materials.
Anti static bags become especially relevant when it comes to expensive electronics. Most electronics comprise small transistors and other components that are extremely sensitive to current and charges. An unsafe electrostatic discharge may be adequate to disrupt the balance and damage your equipment.
On the other hand, these bags are also frequently used in oxygen-rich environments where a spark can prove to be a hazard.
In addition to offering protection from static discharge, anti static bags typically also protect their contents from water, moisture, vapors, grease, and radiation. If sufficiently layered, they may even provide mechanical protection to fragile components.
What Can Be Stored in Anti Static Bags?
Like we mentioned, anti static bags are used to store electronic devices and components that are typically very sensitive and can be damaged due to electrostatic discharge or ESD.
How Are Anti Static Bags Closed?
There are many ways that an anti static bag can be closed. You can get bags that are taped closed, sealed shut by thermal effect, tied up, or even ziplocked.
How To Decide Which Anti Static Bag to Get?
If you need anti static bags, you can easily get some by ordering them online from some trusted sources.
But before making the purchase, it is important that you do your research and finds out which retailer’s product suits you the best depending on your requirements.
You need to deliberate the material the bag is made of, what kind of protection it offers, how it is closed, and whether or not is metalized.
What Are The Best Anti Static Bags to Purchase?
Here are some of the top rated anti static bags you can get right away from Amazon:
This 10 piece package of large anti static bags enables you to safely store electronic components like motherboards, LCD screens, video cards, hard disks, RAMs, and other sensitive objects. The bags are 12×16 inches in size and are open top. Made from non toxic, high quality PET material, the bags can be reused multiple times safely without damaging the integrity of its protective barrier.
2. Generic Bluecell Resealable Anti Static Bags
This is a great deal to get over 20 pieces of anti static bags for under $8. The bags are metallized which means they provide extra protection. 24 by 21 cm in size, the metallized bags can be used to store small cards and electronic components safely to stow away or transfer. These can be sealed up like a Ziploc bag for safekeeping and released again if you need to open them.
If you are looking for some extra protection for your electronic gadgets or components, then you will prefer these anti static bubble wrap bags. Thes resealable bags contain layers of protective bubble wrap that not only deters the effects of electrostatic discharge, but also provides mechanical safety to fragile objects.
Available in several small and large sizes, you can get anywhere from 10 to 100 of these bags in order for an affordable price. The bags are sealed up with a zip-top and the transparent material allows you to visualize the contents without having to open them.
What Are Some Alternatives to Anti Static Bags?
In case you do not have access to an anti static bag but need to avail its benefits, there are some alternatives that you can try.
Your best shot is to wrap up your equipment in aluminum foil- the dull side towards your components and the shiny side facing outside.
You can then place your aluminum wrapped electronic component inside a plastic bag to protect it from damage.
Before you use aluminum like this, however, make sure that your component does not have any batteries. If it does, avoid using aluminum foil as it would cause a spark. Some people even recommend using a simple newspaper to wrap up your electronic parts.
But remember, none of the make-shift solutions guarantee 100% protection. For full safety, the best thing to do is to find an anti static bag.