Circuit & System Protection

Clearing the Static: Fundamental principles of static control

27 September 2023 Circuit & System Protection

Greg Barron, Actum Group director

Managing electrostatic discharge (ESD) within the electronics manufacturing environment is a crucial responsibility that demands precision and safety. There are six fundamental principles for devising and executing ESD control programmes:

Design in protection

The foremost principle is to design products and assemblies with built-in resistance to ESD effects. This entails steps like utilising less static-sensitive components or equipping devices, boards, assemblies, and equipment with suitable input protection measures.

Determine the necessary control level for your environment

Ascertain the susceptibility of the most ESD-vulnerable items in the operations and classify the withstand voltage ratings for the products that are manufactured. It’s imperative to comprehend the sensitivity levels of all devices that will be handled within a facility, including the Human-Body Model (HBM) and Charged-Device Model (CDM).

Identify and define the electrostatic protected areas (EPAs)

An EPA is a defined space equipped with the requisite materials, tools, and equipment capable of controlling static electricity to a degree that minimises harm to ESD-sensitive items.

Minimise electrostatic charge generation

The fourth control principle involves mitigating the generation and accumulation of electrostatic charges. Initiatives begin by eliminating as many processes and materials that generate static charge, especially high-charging insulators, from the EPA work environment. Personnel are grounded through wrist straps and anti-static footwear.

Dissipate and neutralise

Given that not all electrostatic charge generation within the EPA can be eliminated, the fifth principle focuses on safely discharging or neutralising these charges when they do occur. Proper grounding, and the use of conductive or dissipative materials play pivotal roles in this endeavour.

Shield products

The final ESD control principle centres on preventing discharges, when they do occur, from reaching susceptible parts and assemblies. A range of ESD control packaging and material handling products are available for use both inside and outside the EPA.


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