While electrostatic discharge can be a nuisance for regular folk, it is a downright safety and product hazard in certain settings.
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To mitigate the potential negative effects of ESD, the concept of ESD workstations was introduced.
Let’s explore what ESD workstations are, how you can test them, and how to go about their maintenance:
What is an ESD Workstation?
ESD stations and workbenches are often used in professional and industrial settings like laboratories, manufacturing/production areas, as well as repair points.
The purpose of an ESD workstation is to provide a static free zone where you can safely work with static sensitive or flammable materials.
What Constitutes an ESD Workstation?
An ESD workstation typically comprises a combination of tools and materials that are all designed to safely dissipate any accumulated charges.
A typical ESD workstation may have ESD matting, a grounding cord, ESD wrist straps and shoes for the users, ionisers, as well as dissipative items such as ESD storage solutions and ESD paper.
How Can You Ensure the ESD Workstation is Working Properly?
In order to make sure your ESD workstation is working the way it is supposed to, it is important to perform regular testing. The goal is to make sure that even after repeated use, your connections are intact and the tolerance levels are within acceptable ranges.
What Tools Can You Use to Test an ESD Workstation?
There are numerous different kinds of tools available in the market that enable you to test various components of your ESD workstation. For example, you will find a number of monitors that are designed to test anti static wrist straps and check its connections.
Additionally, you can also perform complete, holistic tests of your workstation as a whole. These devices can be placed on the workbench or connected to it with electrodes to measure the resistance.
For example, in order to test your ESD mat, you can use a Surface Resistivity or ESD Metre. Using this tool, you can perform the resistance-top-to-top and resistance-to-groundable point tests.
The goal is to ensure your workstation is still static dissipative. This would be indicated by surface resistances between 1×10^6 Ohms and 1×10^12 Ohms.
So all in all, you can individually test your wrist strap and mats, perform surface resistance testing, or use a multifunction ESD workstation monitor.
How Does a Wrist Strap Tester Work?
To test your wrist strap, put it on your wrist. Connect the coiled cord of the strap to the tester. Most testers use a touch-to-test approach, so simply place your fingers where indicated.
You will typically be shown through a red or green light if the resistance exceeds the safe ranges or lies within them, respectively.
How Does a Surface Resistance Tester Work?
A surface resistivity tester works as described before. You typically use two electrodes or strips to connect your workstation to the tester. Then the LED screen of your tester will show you the surface resistance.
How Does a Workstation Monitor Work?
Lastly, you can install a workstation monitor that continuously records the performance of your workstation. These units should ideally be monitoring your wrist straps, floor matting, as well as all of the workstation surfaces.
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How to Prepare for an ESD Test?
If you are preparing to test your ESD workstation, there are a few things to keep in mind. For example, do not go out of your way to clean the surfaces before conducting the test as it can alter the results. Also make sure that you remove any items that can interfere with the test, including any ESD sensitive devices.
How To Maintain an ESD Workstation?
When it comes to extending the life of your ESd workstation and ensuring it remains as effective as possible, it is important to maintain it properly. Here are some of the few best practices when it comes to ESD workstation maintenance:
- Avoid using sharp objects on your workstation.
- Use a plain cloth to wipe and clean your workstation every once in a while.
- Avoid using fragrant cleaners or wax-based solvents on your workbench.
- Avoid using abrasive cleaners that can damage the workbench surface.
- Clean your workstation gently if it becomes visibly soiled with dirt or grease.
Employing the use of these general practices along with regular, periodic testing will ensure that you keep your ESD workstation effective and operational for as long as possible.