SCS is excited to announce a brand new video series discussing real-life ESD problems and solutions. This is a great educational resource for anybody new to ESD or just wanting to learn more about best practices.
Each episode will focus on one issue commonly found in an ESD Protected Area – at the same time we will present solutions so you know how to tackle the problem should you ever face it in your own factory.
A new episode will be published each week so make sure you subscribe to our YouTube channel to get notified when a new video is available. Episodes 1 and 2 are now live so don’t waste a second longer and catch-up now:
There are all kinds of variations and combinations of ESD Laminate and Continuous Monitors used by companies with ESD Programs.. There are some key factors that you need to be aware of if you intend to use ESD Laminate together with a continuous monitor that will monitor the worksurface connections.
It’s important to note that continuous monitors don’t monitor the status/condition of the outer surface of an ESD workstation. The continuous monitor monitors the connection between groundable points on the worksurface (often snaps), not the Resistance to Ground (RTG) of the surface itself. The RTG measurement must be taken separately, per ANSI/ESD TR53-01-18 – Compliance Verification of ESD Protective Equipment and Materials (Pages 6 and 7).
The basic technology is that the monitor applies a low test voltage to the scrim layer in the worksurface. Because the test voltage is so low, the resistance of the scrim layer of the mat must also be low so that the test voltage can complete a circuit of the scrim layer, worksurface connections (snaps) and ground cords. Completing that circuit indicates that the worksurface is electrically connected. The goal is to have the worksurface circuit fail because of a bad connection, not because the scrim layer resistance was too high. As mentioned earlier, testing the combination of the outer layer and the scrim layer together (RTG) is a separate test.
When choosing a continuous monitor and worksurface combination that will work together it is important to consider the following:
Does the worksurface have a separate scrim layer? (vs. a homogenous mat material)
Does the continuous monitor spec sheet note the resistance limit of the scrim layer required for the monitor/worksurface alarm system to pass?
See the excerpt below from the SCS 724 Continuous Monitor Technical Bulletin – https://www.descoindustries.com/PDF/724-Workstation-Monitor-User-Guide.pdf “Red Worksurface LED (M) This indicates that a high resistance condition (> 3.7 Megohms) exists across the conductive layer of theworksurface and/or the ground connections. Check the worksurface, ground cords and their connections for continuity. Note the audible alarm may also sound if enabled.”
What this means is if the resistance of the mat scrim layer is greater than 3.7 Megohms then the continuous monitor mat alarm would alarm for a high resistance condition even if the grounding hardware connections to the worksurface were intact. There are other SCS monitors available that will monitor a scrim layer with a resistance as high as 5 x 108.
In summary, it’s critical to know both the upper limit of the “pass” condition of the continuous monitor and the construction of the worksurface material (does it have a scrim layer and if so what is the resistance of the scrim layer?)
ESD Laminate requires extra attention when being considered for use with a continuous monitor for the following reasons:
Laminate material is rigid, which makes it more difficult for grounding hardware to make a good contact with the scrim layer.
Consider abrading the outer, decorative surface to expose the scrim layer for better contact. Consider a flat bottom drill for this process.
Most importantly, perform a test on the resistance between two points on the worksurface to determine if the resistance meets the requirements of the specified monitor (for the SCS 724 that requirement is less than 3.7 Megohms – 3.7 x 106 ). We recommend using an ohm meter with a test voltage similar, if not identical to the test voltage used by the continuous monitor. We recommend performing this test before the purchase/installation of any number of continuous monitor/worksurface combinations.
Worksurface and floor mats are most commonly grounded with a dedicated wire that is connected to electrical ground. Traditionally, the connection between the mat and wire is made with a snap. Snap connections can become electrically intermittent or accidentally disconnected, causing the worksurface or floor mat (which can often become ungrounded due to carts rolling over them) to lose its connection to ground.
To improve this connection, a ground cord with threaded holes can help. Threaded connections are recommended because they are more secure than traditional snaps; they allow the ground cord to be optionally bolted to the mat. This keeps the cord from disconnecting, ensuring proper grounding. The path-to-ground integrity of a mat should be periodically verified with a surface resistance meter and/or a continuous monitor.
Watch video of the SCS’s Dome Style Ground Cord with threaded snap connection to see how it works.
Welcome back to “A Minute with Miranda.” This week we will be covering how the Ground Master Monitor provides continuous monitoring of the path-to-ground impedance and electromagnetic integrity of eight metal ground connections of process tools in your SMT assembly work area.
The Ground Master Monitor
continuously monitors eight metal tools for electromagnetic interference (EMI).
EMI can cause equipment lockups and malfunction. The Ground Master Monitor will
alarm if EMI is detected. The Ground Master will also alarm if the grounded
metal tools have a high-frequency noise that can cause electrical overstress
(EOS) damage. The Ground Master Monitor provides both a visual and audible
alarm for the monitored ground connections. The Ground Master Monitor meets the
Continuous Monitor requirements of ANSI/ESD S20.20 in accordance with ESD TR53.
Sensitivity to electrostatic discharge (ESD) is an important concern in PCB assembly manufacturing. Pinpointing where ESD events are occurring on an SMT line can be difficult determine. ESD exposure can take place anywhere in the process, including PCB loading, component handling, soldering, and operator interventions. ESD events generate electromagnetic radiation. The stronger the ESD event, the stronger the electromagnetic radiation. Detecting and measuring the unique waveform generated by an ESD event can help determine where the ESD event is occurring and reduce the time it takes to identify and solve the problem. Watch this video to see how continuous ESD Event Detection monitoring can be setup on an SMT Line to monitor the processes and triangulate where static voltage and ESD events are occurring in the process.
With electronic components getting smaller and more sensitive, it’s important to make sure they are protected from ESD events like static discharge. Per ANSI/ESD S20.20, “Protective packaging is required to store, transport, and protect ESDS electronic items during all phases of production.” Per the new 2018 requirements for ANSI/ESD S541, the shielding requirement was changed that remaining discharge for the bags should be less than 20 nanojules.
One of the more common used bags is a low charging Pink Poly bag. These bags are made from a tinted polyethylene material with an antistatic coating that can wear away. This turns the bag insulative over time, making it noncompliant to ANSI/ESD S541 recommendations. They also lack discharge shielding protection which makes components within the bag susceptible to ESD event damage. Metallized Shielding bags are constructed from a metalized polyester film and a low charging polyethylene laminate. This provides the bags with a shielding layer that creates a Faraday cage protecting the ESD sensitive components within the bag from possible ESD event damage. The low charging inner layer and outer layer of the bag prevent tribocharging from occurring, minimizing the build up of ESD charges when handling components.
Watch this video on Pink Poly vs Static Shielding Bag Testing and learn why Metallized Static Shielding Bags are the best packaging solution offering full protection against ESD events.
Have you been questioned by your quality manager about shelf life on ESD bags? Maybe it’s an internal quality procedure that is being written and you would like to know where the manufacturer stands on the shelf life of ESD packaging. Well today we will address the topic of ESD Static Control bag storage and the expected shelf life.
There are many ways to manufacture an ESD shielding bag with low charging properties on the inner and outer layers. This is the first factor to consider so I will address only the items that I convert here at SCS. In our process, I achieve shielding values via a buried metal layer. The metal layer is laminated between two layers of polyethylene. This process makes a very robust and long- lasting product in terms of shielding values as per ANSI/ESD S541-2018, the electronic industry’s most recognized standard for ESD packaging. Still the metal layer is exposed to oxidization if not stored properly and subject to extreme climate or moisture.
To achieve the outer and inner low-charging properties, I use a topical anti-stat solution. This provides the outer and inner resistance readings of >/= 1 x 10^4 to < 1 x 10^11 ohms as called out in ANSI/ESD S541-2018 packaging standard. This property is the most vulnerable to change and should be tested frequently.
How does all this pertain to shelf-life you ask? SCS provides a Static Control Bag Storage document with a 1 year warranty from the date of purchase. I have witnessed SCS ESD bags stored in a controlled climate, well-ventilated area that have maintained passing surface resistance results after 5 yrs. on the shelf. Some customers have relied on our Moisture Barrier products to archive various critical products for as long as 20 yrs. They found through extensive testing that SCS had the highest quality and most repeatable results to trust with their archived product.
End users cannot always provide a climate and humidity-controlled atmosphere for our raw material, so it is recommended that you test your bags periodically per the S541 standard and dispose of any materials that are found to be questionable. As a best practice, you can log your products by purchase date or lot number and create an annual spot check audit to assure that your bags are still in compliance. Using a FIFO First In First Out process is critical in keeping your inventory fresh. You can imagine that there are 1000’s of variations to consider when we discuss shelf life. Heat, storage rack conditions, travel method and local climate to name a few, so the points to take away are this:
Hot, Cold, sunlight, moisture
Add controls when possible
In a controlled environment, SCS ESD bags have seen 5 yrs. of proven shelf life.
Follow the FIFO process as a best practice for inventory.
SCS warranties the product for a period of 1 year from the date of purchase. You need to audit annually or prior to use as a best practice and assure that your devices are getting the best protection.
If the bags are questionable, recycle the product at your local recycler and order and new lot from SCS – Static Control Solutions.
Thank you, Kevin Cleary ESD Packaging Specialist – Sales Direct Line: (919) 903-1724
Welcome back to “A Minute with Miranda.” This week we will be covering how the EM Aware Monitor provides continuous monitoring to detect and measure ESD Events in your STM machine.
The SCS EM Aware Monitor is a continuous monitor for three key parameters that allow you to verify your ESD process in an automated insertion machine; ESD events, change in static voltage field, and ionizer balance. The thresholds for all three of these parameters are fully adjustable by the user. The EM Aware Monitor is a miniature radio receiver tuned to detect and measure the unique waveform generated by an ESD event. The EM Aware Monitor meets the Continuous Monitor requirements of ANSI/ESD S20.20 in accordance with ESD TR1.0-01 and ANSI/ESD STM3.1. It meets the recommendations of ESD Handbook ESD TR20.20 which includes “if the products that are being produced are of such value that the knowledge of a continuous, reliable ground is needed, then continuous monitoring should be considered or even required.”
Welcome back to “A Minute with Miranda.” This week we will be covering how the WS Aware provides continuous monitoring for an operator at an SMT line.
The SCS WS Aware Monitor is a continuous monitor for operators, ESD Worksurfaces and metal tools. It will continuously monitor the path-to-ground integrity and body voltage of two operators. It also monitors the path-to-ground integrity of two metal tools. In addition, it continuously monitors for electromagnetic interference (EMI) on two metal tools, which may cause electrical overstress (EOS) damage. The WS Aware Monitor eliminates the need for periodic testing and record keeping of wrist straps.
Per ESD Handbook ESD TR 20.20 section 18.104.22.168.4 “Typical Test programs recommend that wrist straps that are used daily should be tested daily. However, if the products that are being produced are of such value that knowledge of a continuous, reliable ground is needed, then continuous monitoring should be considered or even required.”
View the full range of SCS WS Aware Monitors here.
Welcome back to “A Minute with Miranda.” This week we will be covering how to test ESD footwear entering an ESD Protected Area (EPA).
Per the ESD Handbook ESD TR20.20, A system test of the footwear in combination with the existing or proposed flooring materials in the plant should be made to ensure that the criteria for the facility are met. When using a footwear checker it is important to make sure the upper and lower resistance limits of the checker match the user’s requirements. When testing the footwear should test within the range of 1 x 106 to 1 x 108 ohms.
Heel, sole and toe grounders should be worn on both feet to ensure effective use. They should be worn by all personnel and visitors within an ESD controlled area. If worn improperly, the heel, sole and toe grounders become ineffective. ESD footwear should be tested daily before use within an ESD Protected Area (EPA).