Electronic Techs Beware, This Could Be a Shocking Experience

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Have you ever walked across a carpeted floor, then to reach out and touch another object and receive a small static discharge from your hand. I certainly have, and if you are not expecting it, it can be a surprising event large enough that you may even see a spark travel between your hand and the other object.

This phenomenon is referred to as Electrostatic Discharge or (ESD). It is something that most of us have experienced at least once in our lives, and can certainly be amusing at times as well, but it can also cause serious issues when working with electronic equipment such as computers, audio equipment, or any other type of electronic equipment that may have components that contain static sensitive devices. In many cases devices containing these types of sensitive components will have warning labels to make you aware that the device you are servicing or installing is static sensitive, some do not!

There are different types of ESD the spark being the most spectacular, but many ESD events occur without a visible or audible spark. A person or object may be carrying a small electric charge and may not even be aware of a discharge, but this invisible type of ESD can be devastating to electronic devices not only causing immediate failure but also could effect the long term performance of these devices as well.

Using anti static tools, referred to as “ESD Safe Tools” is always the best approach to prevent ESD and can save you hundreds of dollars in the long run.

Some examples of Anti Static Tools are:

Anti Static Mats: An anti static floor mats or bench mats are constructed of a special material embedded into the mat that collects static.The mat has a grounding strap attached to it which allows the static charge to be directed to a ground away from the equipment you are working on.

Anti Static Wrist Strap: Is worn on the wrist, has a grounding strap attached to it which allows the static charge to be directed to a ground source. It is best used in conjunction with a anti static mat or a special static-dissipating plastic laminate on the workbench surface.

Anti Static Tools: Generally referred to as ESD Safe Tools, can include soldering irons, tweezers, diagonal cutter and pliers, screwdrivers and other electronic tools. These types of tools are specifically designed to prevent static discharge when coming into contact with sensitive devices but should always be used in conjunction with anti static mats and wrist straps as well.

Precaution is always the best approach when working with any electronic device. If you have any doubt if the electronic equipment you are servicing is susceptible to ESD, then use ESD safe tools and mats. A few dollars spent up front for prevention could save you hundreds in replacement or unnecessary repair costs.