Category Archives: Menda Tools and Workbench Accessories

Organising your ESD Workstation using 5S

Although not strictly related to ElectroStatic Discharge (ESD), we all know that a tidy workstation is essential when it comes to ‘getting the job done’. Having a cluttered desk and not being able to find the tools you need makes everything take twice as long. Ever heard of the 5S methodology? In today’s post, we will show how this approach can be applied to an ESD workstation. We’ll also introduce a few ESD products that can help in becoming more efficient and productive when handling ESD sensitive devices.

5S Methodology
5S is the name of a workplace organization method that uses a list of five Japanese words: seiri, seiton, seiso, seiketsu, and shitsuke. Transliterated into Roman Script, they all start with the letter “S”.[1] The list describes how to organize a work space for efficiency and effectiveness by identifying and storing the items used, maintaining the area and items, and sustaining the new order.” [Source]
Generally speaking, 5S incorporates 5 phases:

  1. Sort
  2. Arrange
  3. Clean
  4. Standardise
  5. Sustain

This post is going to focus on the first two steps of 5S.

Sorting an ESD Workstation
Items at an ESD protective workstation should be either dissipative or conductive so that electrostatic charges are removed to ground when in contact with a grounded operator or grounded ESD mat.
The protection of ESDS is accomplished by providing a ground path to bring ESD protective materials and personnel to the same electrical potential. All conductor and dissipative items in the environment, including personnel, shall be bonded or electrically connected to a known ground or common connection point. This connection results in sharing of charge which equalizes the voltage across all items and personnel and eliminates the chances of an ESD event to ESD sensitive devices. Electrostatic protection can be maintained at a potential different from a “zero” voltage ground reference as long as all items in the system are at the same potential.“ [CLC/TR 61340-5-2 Clause 4.4 Grounding/bonding systems]

So, before moving any further operators need to take a good look at their workstation and eliminate any items that are not essential to their workflow.
All non-essential insulators and items (plastics and paper), such as coffee cups, food wrappers and personal items shall be removed from the workstation or any operation where unprotected ESDS are handled. The ESD threat associated with process essential insulators or electrostatic field sources shall be evaluated to ensure that:

  • the electrostatic field at the position where the ESDS are handled shall not exceed 5 000 V/m;

or

  • if the electrostatic potential measured at the surface of the process required insulator exceeds 2 000 V, the item shall be kept a minimum of 30 cm from the ESDS; and
  • if the electrostatic potential measured at the surface of the process required insulator exceeds 125 V, the item shall be kept a minimum of 2,5 cm from the ESDS.

If the measured electrostatic field or surface potential exceeds the stated limits, ionization or other charge mitigating techniques shall be used.” [IEC 61340-5-1 Clause 5.3.4.2 Insulators]

Arranging an ESD Workstation
Once the essential items required to do the job have been identified, the next step is to arrange them in a way that is suitable to the operator’s workflow. Here are a few tools and items that can be useful:

1. Use Colour and Labels
Having a proper colour and labelling system in place will help arrange a workstation and put items in the right places. This in return will ensure operators can find tools and accessories quickly when required.

Dispensing Bottles
Operators working with solder irons or performing various cleaning tasks at an ESD workstation will likely be using water or some sort of cleaning agent. ESD dispensing bottles can store these liquids. They come in all sorts of sizes and with various pumps or spouts. Using different colours will help identify the many liquids needed at an ESD workstation.

ESD Dispensing BottlesExamples of Dispensing Bottles – more information

Waste Bin Liners
Bin liners come in different sizes and colours and can be useful when it comes to separating waste. They are non-tribocharging and are designed for use in ESD protected areas where electrostatic sensitive devices are present. Even at low humidity they do not become charged with static electricity. They are made from high quality polyethylene and are as strong as conventional refuse sacks.

BinLinersExamples of Waste Bin Liners – more information

Document Holders
Document holders are designed for use within ESD Protected Areas in accordance with EN 61340-5-1. They are static dissipative which means charges are removed to ground when placed on a grounded working surface or handled by a grounded operator. Applying them to ESD safe containers will help finding tools, components and accessories.

Document WalletsExamples of Document Holders – more information

2. Use Boxes and Containers
Everything is tidier when using boxes, right? The workstation looks clean and using document wallets (see above) will instantly tell the operator what is inside of each container or box. Everyone’s a winner!

Letter Trays
Generally conductive, any electrostatic charges on letter trays are removed to ground when the tray is placed on a grounded working surface or contacted by a grounded operator. They are helpful when organising documents (e.g. production orders) at an ESD workstation.

Letter TrayExample of a Letter Tray

Workstation Organisers
Workstation Organisers are ideal for improving the organisation of a workstation and standardising the placement of tools which is a key concept of the 5S methodology. They can be used for various items which are used on the workstation:

– dispensing bottles,
lotions,
flux bottles,
– solder spools,
– cutters,
– tweezers,
– wash bottles and
– various other workbench accessories.

Workstation OrganiserExample of a Worstation Organiser – more information

Ideally, Workstation Organisers should be the exact size required for your work area and have the tool openings cut for the tools you have “sorted” and determined need to be kept at the workstation.

Rack Holders, Containers and Hanging Bins
These types of storage solutions are perfect for PCB boards and components. They are generally made of a conductive material so that when placed on a grounded surface, any charges will dissipate to ground.

PCB ContainersExamples of a PCB Containers – more information

Maintaining an ESD Workstation
The hard part of ‘change’ is sticking with it and not falling back into old habits – this is where the last 3 steps of 5S come into play: clean, standardise and sustain. It’s essential that:

  1. An ESD Workstation is cleaned on a regular basis. Ensure all tools, accessories etc. are in the correct place and ESD precautions are followed.
  2. Procedures and processes are in place so every operator is aware of their responsibilities and how to perform their jobs correctly.
  3. A regular training and audit schedule is created. They are part of any ESD Programme and will not only ensure that ESD sensitive items are handled properly, but that ESD workstations are maintained.

Conclusion
The 5S methodology can be applied to a wide range of industries including an ESD workstation. There are numerous ESD tools and accessories available that can support companies with the implementation of 5S. The results will be increased efficiency, productivity and output.

References:
Huffington Post: 7 Tips to Organize Your Work Space and Stay Productive
Wikipedia: 5S (methodology)

How to neutralise a charge on an object that cannot be grounded

We have learnt in a previous post that within an ESD Protected Area (EPA) all surfaces, objects, people and ESD Sensitive Devices (ESDs) are kept at the same electrical potential. We achieve this by using only ‘groundable’ materials. But what do you do if you absolutely need an item in your EPA and it cannot be grounded? Don’t sweat, not all hope is lost! There are a couple of options which will allow you to use the item in question. Let us explain…

Conductors and Insulators
In ESD Control, we differentiate conductors and insulators.
Materials that easily transfer electrons are called conductors. Some examples of conductors are metals, carbon and the human body’s sweat layer.

ConductorA charged conductor can transfer electrons which allows it to be grounded

Materials that do not easily transfer electrons are called insulators and are by definition non-conductors. Some well-known insulators are common plastics and glass.

InsulatorInsulators will hold the charge and cannot be grounded and “conduct” the charge away

Both, conductors and insulators, may become charged with static electricity and discharge.
Electrostatic charges can effectively be removed from conductors by grounding them. However, the item grounded must be conductive or dissipative. An insulator on the other hand, will hold the charge and cannot be grounded and “conduct” the charge away.

Conductors and Insulators in an EPA
The first two fundamental principles of ESD Control are:

  1. Ground all conductors including people.
  2. Remove all insulators.

To achieve #1, all surfaces, products and people are bonded to Ground. Bonding means linking, usually through a resistance of between 1 and 10 megohms. Wrist straps and work surface mats are some of the most common devices used to remove static charges. Wrist straps drain charges from operators and a properly grounded mat will provide path-to-ground for exposed ESD susceptible devices. Movable items (such as containers and tools) are bonded by virtue of standing on a bonded surface or being held by a bonded person.

However, what if the static charge in question is on something that cannot be grounded, i.e. an insulator? Then #2 of our ESD Control principles will kick in. Per the ESD Standard, “All non-essential insulators and items (plastics and paper), such as coffee cups, food wrappers and personal items shall be removed from the workstation or any operation where unprotected ESDS are handled.
The ESD threat associated with process essential insulators or electrostatic field sources shall be evaluated to ensure that:

  • the electrostatic field at the position where the ESDS are handled shall not exceed 5 000 V/m;

or

  • if the electrostatic potential measured at the surface of the process required insulator exceeds 2 000 V, the item shall be kept a minimum of 30 cm from the ESDS; and
  • if the electrostatic potential measured at the surface of the process required insulator exceeds 125 V, the item shall be kept a minimum of 2,5 cm from the ESDS.”

[IEC 61340-5-1:2016 clause 5.3.4.2 Insulators]

Always keep insulators a minimum of 31cm from ESDS itemsAlways keep insulators a minimum of 31cm from ESDS items

“Process-essential” Insulators
Well, we all know that nothing in life is black and white. It would be easy to just follow the above ‘rules’ and Bob’s your uncle – but unfortunately that’s not always possible. There are situations where said insulator is an item used at the workstation such as a hand tools. They are essential – you cannot just throw them out of the EPA. If you do, the job won’t get done.
So, the question is – how do you ‘remove’ these vital insulators without actually ‘removing’ them from your EPA? There are 2 options you should try first:

1. Replace regular insulative items with an ESD protective version
There are numerous tools and accessories available that are ESD safe – from document handling to cups & dispensers and brushes and waste bins. They are either conductive or dissipative and replace the standard insulative varieties that are generally used at a workbench. For more information on using ESD safe tools and accessories, check this post.

2. Periodically apply a coat of Topical Antistat
The Reztore® Topical Antistat (or similar solution) is for use on non-ESD surfaces. After it has been applied and the surface dries, an antistatic and protective static dissipative coating is left behind. The static dissipative coating will allow charges to drain off when grounded. The antistatic properties will reduce triboelectric voltage to under 200 volts. It therefore gives non-ESD surfaces electrical properties until the hard coat is worn away.

If these two options are not feasible for your application, the insulator is termed “process-essential” and therefore neutralisation using an ioniser should become a necessary part of your ESD control programme.

Neutralisation
Most ESD workstations will have some insulators or isolated conductors that cannot be removed or replaced. These should be addressed with ionisation.
Examples of some common process essential insulators are a PC board substrate, insulative test fixtures and product plastic housings.

Electronic enclosures are process-essential insulators
Electronic enclosures are process-essential insulators

An example of isolated conductors can be conductive traces or components loaded on a PC board that is not in contact with the ESD worksurface.

An ioniser creates great numbers of positively and negatively charged ions. Fans help the ions flow over the work area. Ionisation can neutralise static charges on an insulator in a matter of seconds, thereby reducing their potential to cause ESD damage.
The charged ions created by an ioniser will:

  • neutralise charges on process required insulators,
  • neutralise charges on non- essential insulators,
  • neutralise isolated conductors and
  • minimise triboelectric charging.

Ioniser ExampleInsulators and isolated conductors are common in ESD Sensitive (ESDS) Devices – Ionisers can help

For more information on ionisers and how to choose the right type of ioniser for your application, read this post.

Summary
Insulators, by definition, are non-conductors and therefore cannot be grounded. Insulators can be controlled by doing the following within an EPA:

  • Keep insulators a minimum of 31cm from ESDS items at all times or
  • Replace regular insulative items with an ESD protective version or
  • Periodically apply a coat of Topical Antistat

When none of the above is possible, the insulator is termed “process-essential” and therefore neutralisation using an ioniser should become a necessary part of your ESD control programme.

Are the tools and accessories on your workbench ESD safe? – Part 2

Last week we talked about why insulators in your ESD Protected Area (EPA) can cause problems and started creating a list of the most commonly used insulative items that you should replace with ESD safe alternatives. Missed the post? Catch-up here.

So let’s continue with our list:

Dispensing bottles

If you work with solder irons or perform various cleaning tasks at your ESD workstation, you will likely be using water or some sort of cleaning agent. Where do you store those liquids? Plastic cups? If so, that’s a BIG no-no and if you’re truly committed to your ESD Control Programme, you should be switching to ESD protective bottles immediately. ESD dispensing bottles come in all sorts of sizes, colours and with different pumps or spouts. Whatever type you need for your application, you will generally be able to find an ESD alternative.

ESD Dispensing BottlesExamples of ESD safe dispensing bottles – more information

ESD dispensing bottles are dissipative and high-quality types will have no migratory additives which reduces the chance for contamination from the bottle.

Brushes

We covered brushes in a previous post so don’t want to repeat everything here. If you want more information on regular brushes and the problems they cause in an EPA, follow-up here.

Examples of dissipative and conductive brushes – more information

Summing-up the most important points in regards to using brushes in your ESD protected area (EPA):

  • Use dissipative or conductive brushes in an EPA.
  • All portions of the brush (handle and bristles) need to be conductive/dissipative.
  • Operators need to be grounded during use.
  • Choose dissipative bristles if your product/assembly may be holding a charge and Charged Device Model (CDM) failures are a concern.

Probes

Probes are ideal for opening plastic cases such as MP3 players, cell phones, laptops, etc. and for popping out batteries. They are also used for holding, probing, and manipulating wires and components during assembly and soldering. ESD safe versions are made of nylon, wood or stainless steel.

Examples of ESD safe probes – more information

The hygroscopic (readily accepts moisture) properties of Nylon will make this tool suitable for use around ESD sensitive components after a few minutes of handling the tool with bare hands. If used with gloves in a clean environment the tools must be dipped in a topical antistatic solution before use in sensitive areas. Topical treatment should be repeated at six month intervals. Without exposure to moisture or antistatic treatment, Nylon is in the insulative resistance range and charges will not be removed to ground.

Wood is considered a safe material for use in ESD sensitive areas. It is hygroscopic and has a low propensity for triboelectric charge generation under most conditions.

Any charge on a stainless steel probe can be grounded when it is placed on an ESD protected work surface.

Waste bins and bin liners

ESD safe waste bins are generally conductive and are useful in ESD Protected Areas where waste accumulates and cannot be conveniently removed except in bulk. By placing them on a grounded floor, electrostatic charges are removed to ground. They do not require separate grounding when placed on a grounded surface.

Examples of Waste Bins and Bin LinersExamples of waste bins and bind liners – more information

If you’re currently using standard bin liners, replace those with non-tribocharging ESD versions. Even at low humidity they do not become charged with static electricity and are designed for use in ESD protected areas where electrostatic sensitive devices are present.

 

And there you have it – a list of of tools and accessories that you should be replacing with ESD protective alternatives. Can you think of any others? Let us know in the comments!

Are the tools and accessories on your workbench ESD safe? – Part 1

In a previous post we talked about 2 types of materials you should be aware of in an ESD Protected Area (EPA): insulators and conductors. We learned that one way to protect your ESD sensitive devices (ESDs) is to replace regular insulative items with an ESD protective version. But exactly what items can and should you replace? Well, that’s what today’s post is all about. We put together a list of the most common items used at a workstation and explain in more details why they should be replaced and what options you have.

Conductors and Insulators

Materials that easily transfer electrons (or charge) are called conductors and are said to have “free” electrons. Grounding works effectively to remove electrostatic charges from conductors to ground.

Materials that do not easily transfer electrons are called insulators or non-conductors. An insulator will hold the charge and cannot be grounded; therefore, the charge cannot dissipate in a controlled way. This could lead to static damage of nearby sensitive components as there can be a rapid, spontaneous transfer of electrostatic charge.

So how do you control static electricity in the workplace? Easy – just follow these principles:

  • Remove all unnecessary non-conductors,
  • Replace all non-conductive materials with dissipative or conductive materials and
  • Ground all conductors.

So what insulators in your EPA can be replaced with dissipative of conductive materials? Here is a list of the most commonly used insulative items and their replacements:

Document handling

Paper is everywhere in the workplace and an ESD Protected Area is no exception. The problem with regular paper is that it is insulative but tends to be low charging because it is hygroscopic (readily absorbs moisture). The primary concern with paper is placing ESD sensitive items on the paper interfering with the path-to-ground of the grounded ESD mat. Best practice is to use dissipative paper or have regular insulative paper in dissipative document holders or wallets.

Dissipative Self-Stick NotesDissipative self-stick notes – more information

EN 61340-5-1 “Paperwork inside the EPA shall either be kept in containers conforming to the requirements of table 2 or shall not generate a field in excess of that specified in paragraph 5.3.5 (ESDS should not be exposed to electrostatic fields in excess of 10 kV/m).

There are a number of products available on the market that can assist with handling documents/paper in ESD Protected Areas:

  1. ESD safe document holders and wallets
    Document wallets and holders are designed for use within ESD Protected Areas in accordance with EN 61340-5-1. They are static dissipative which means charges are removed to ground when placed on a grounded working surface or handled by a grounded operator.

    Examples of ESD safe document wallets and holders – more information

     

  2. ESD safe ring binders and clipboards
    Ring Binders and clipboards are designed to replace high charging insulative regular binders for use within ESD protected areas. They come in different widths with different ring sizes and 2 or 4 rings. Just like document holders/wallets they are static dissipative so charges are removed to ground when placed on a grounded working surface or handled by a grounded operator.

    Examples of Ring Binders and ClipboardsExamples of ESD safe ring binders and clipboards – more information

     

  3. ESD safe letter trays
    Generally conductive, any electrostatic charges on letter trays are removed to ground when the tray is placed on a grounded working surface or contacted by a grounded operator. They do not require separate grounding when laid on a grounded surface.

    Letter TrayExamples of ESD safe letter tray – more information


Cups

We all love our cup of tea or coffee in the morning and most of us have water bottles on stand-by throughout the day to stay hydrated. But do you know how much charge a foam or plastic cup generates? Well, let’s just say it’s enough to damage your precious components! The answer: ESD safe drinking cups and water bottles. There aren’t too many options out there so make sure you do your research before purchasing.

ESD safe water bottles are generally dissipative so charges are removed when placed on a grounded surface or handled by a grounded operator.

MENDA Drinking CupMenda drinking cup – more information

One option for a drinking cup (for hot drinks) is the MENDA insulated drinking cup. It is low charging and the stainless steel portion is grounded when picked up by a grounded operator or when placed on a grounded ESD worksurface.

 

Read the follow-up post here.

 

Introducing New Menda Fume Extractors

  • Virtually maintenance free
  • Accessories can be suited to different applications
  • Does not interfere with soldering iron or user
  • Low Noise Level
  • Easy Installation, Portable
  • 3 Year Warranty
Draws large volumes of air across the work area, dragging the solder fumes away and into the extraction unit. The extraction units have a comprehensive filter system and are available to suit most any working environment.
Fill out a Qualification Checklist Here

Units Available:
35441 – Solo Unit, Complete Kit

  • Maximum Number of Operators: 1
  • Comprehensive Filter System Included HEPA filtration
    99.997% effective to 0.3 Microns
  • Filter Indicator Light will illuminate when the filters need attention

35446 – Duo Unit, Complete Kit

  • Maximum Number of Operators: 2
  • Comprehensive Filter System Included HEPA filtration
    99.997% effective to 0.3 Microns
  • Filter Indicator Light will illuminate when the filters need attention

35462 – Quad Unit Only

  • Maximum Number of Operators: 6
  • All Accessories sold separately.

For more information and pricing Click Here.

Sign Up HERE | Click HERE for a typical EPA setup | See list of sales reps and distributors HERE
All items & programmes are available through your participating distributor | Submit your questions HERE

Introducing New Menda durAstatic™ Blue Dissipative Bottles

  • Embossed with ESD protective symbol, allowing people to immediately know the bottle is ESD protective
  • No migratory additives – reduces the chance for contamination from the bottle
  • 180 mL. bottles include measurements on one side to see how much fluid is left in the container
  • Printed bottles eliminate the need for additional labels
  • Made in the United States of America
Item Description List Price
35282 120 mL (4 oz) Bottle, One-Touch Pump £14.02
35283 180 mL (6 oz) Bottle, One-Touch Pump £14.02
35284 240 mL (8 oz) Bottle, One-Touch Pump £14.02
35285 180 mL (6 oz) Bottle, Pure-Touch Pump £16.33
35286 180 mL (6 oz) Bottle, Pure-Take Pump £19.17
35287 180 mL (6 oz) Bottle, Take-Along Pump £18.26
35288 240 mL (8 oz) Acetone Printed Bottle, One-Touch Pump £16.12
35289 240 mL (8 oz) IPA Printed Bottle, One-Touch Pump £16.12
Sign Up HERE | Click HERE for a typical EPA setup | See list of sales reps and distributors HERE
All items & programmes are available through your participating distributor | Submit your questions HERE
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