Circuit & System Protection


Clearing the Static: Ionisers and how they work

29 September 2021 Circuit & System Protection

Ionisers neutralise electrostatic charges on insulators and isolated (non-grounded) conductors to reduce the magnitude of electrostatic discharges (ESD) in an ESD protected area (EPA). Basically, air ionisers are used to clean air of static charge and particulate matter.


Greg Barron, Actum Group director

Necessary insulators in the environment cannot lose their electrostatic charge by attachment to ground. Ionisation systems provide neutralisation of charges on these necessary insulators (circuit board materials and some device packages are examples of necessary insulators). Wrist straps and work surface mats are the

most familiar, draining charges from operators as well as from the product being worked on.

But what if the static charge in question is on an insulator? Most ESD workstations will have some insulators such as plastic housings, tools, or isolated conductors like PCB components. These should be controlled using ionisation.

How do ionisers work?

Ionisers create great numbers of positively and negatively charged ions. Fans help the ions flow over the work area. If there is a static charge present on an item in the work area, it will be reduced and neutralised by attracting charges of opposite polarity from the air. Ionisation can neutralise static charges on an insulator in a matter of seconds, thereby reducing their potential to cause ESD damage.

Altico Static Control Solutions, a division of Actum Electronics, is the only business in southern Africa which focuses exclusively on the complete control of ESD in the working environment. For more information visit www.actum.co.za or call +27 11 608 3001 to speak to a technical consultant.


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