Most electronic assemblies are inherently designed to not be susceptible to electrostatic discharge (ESD) once in a completed unit.
A new television or cell phone should be designed to withstand potential static discharge in the environment where it is used.
However, until an item is fully assembled there are opportunities for electrical over stress (EOS) that can result in the early failure of your product.
After receiving your electronic assemblies from an electronics manufacturer/supplier, how you store, handle and install can lead to product success or problems down the road.
Over the years here at RBB, I have seen our efforts continually grow on how to prevent ESD during the manufacturing process. RBB has invested in electrostatic dissipative floors, foot/wrist straps, ESD mats, chairs, tools, bins and smocks. All of our packaging is intended to allow safe transport of circuit boards to prevent ESD. The temperature and humidity is monitored and controlled. Totes and bins are color coded to keep lead-free product separate from tin/lead based products. All of these measures have been implemented to ensure electronic assemblies and products have not been subjected to any ESD that could harm your product and that client requirements are met.
As part of Engineering Support at RBB, I have had the opportunity to visit client sites on several occasions. I have found that how electronic products are handled varies greatly in each facility. Some facilities have electrostatic discharge mats, wrist straps, and other measures while other facilities are installing products on wooden benches with no ESD protection evident at all. Whenever this has been observed, we have helped guide our clients and helped educate on ways to help prevent damage.
I am writing this to help make anyone aware of what steps are recommended for assembly and installation to help prevent ESD-related problems.
4 Preventative Steps:
- A good first step is keeping the product in its anti-static bag until it is required to be removed. Your product can be kept almost indefinitely in its anti-static shielding bag without any loss of ESD protection. The packaging will also decrease the likelihood of physical damage.
- When ready to remove an item from packaging for test or installation, wear a wrist strap or other static control device that has been tested and is working properly. Maintain ESD practices during all assembly and inspection/test steps to insure no EOS occurs until the assembly is complete.
- Providing an anti-static bench mat that is kept clean using the recommended cleaning agent gives the workstation a less likely chance to promote ESD problems. Keeping the workstation clear of unnecessary items that can generate static is also quite helpful.
- Beyond this, there are many additional preventative tools available that can make your assembly and installation areas world-class. A quick internet search can bring an almost unlimited amount of information on electronic assemblies and how to apply them to your specific needs. There are many suppliers of ESD prevention products that have a presence on the web. They may also offer advice on what products work for specific applications.
As always feel free to ask an RBB customer liaison for advice and assistance on these issues. They are here to help you succeed.
Reference documents used: ANSI/ESD S20.20 and IPC-A610 Revision D (Note that this revision has changed.)
Jeff has worked for RBB since 1998 and previously in the late 70's to early 80's. He is currently part of the engineering support team. In his free time, Jeff enjoys movies (especially the drive in), problem solving and a good steak off the grill.
This post was originally published in July 2013.