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Question What are the potential problems ESD can cause on a manufacturing environment?

In a manufacturing environment ElectroStatic Discharge (ESD) is a hidden enemy, little lightning bolts, most that cannot be seen or felt, but which can damage electronic components and assemblies. Major companies state that 25% of all unidentified failure to electronics is a result of ESD.

Static charge is produced by the contact and separation of materials: shoes and floors, clothes and the human body, parts being moved on or from surfaces. The generated charge will reside on the body until it is discharged - the familiar electric shock “zap” that all of us have experienced. However, one can’t feel a static discharge of less than 3,000 volts. Some modern semi-conductor components can be damaged by static charges as low as 30 volts!

Per ESD Glossary ESD ADV1.0, Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) is defined as “The rapid, spontaneous transfer of electrostatic charge induced by a high electrostatic field . Note: Usually, the charge flows through a spark between two bodies at different electrostatic potentials as they approach one another. Details of such processes, such as the rate of the charge transfer, are described in specific electrostatic discharge models.”

Per ESD Handbook TR20.20 section 2.4 “Theoretically, any two items or materials brought into contact and then separated can liberate static electricity. For the purposes of this Handbook, the interactions that are important involve people, electronic and electrical components, handling equipment, packaging materials as well as any other item or material that may enter the work area.

Once a static charge is liberated, a charged surface can influence other items through space at a distance. Induction, as described in the previous section, can result in an ESD event if the conductive/dissipative item is grounded while in the presence of the electric field. This important concept has been shown to cause many difficulties in industry including: explosions, fires, component damage, system disruption and personnel shock.”

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