Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is becoming a hot topic in industry these days. As businesses increasingly rely on complex electronic devices in all areas of their operations, the damage caused by ESD on sophisticated components is becoming a greater concern for companies in a variety of industries including electronic assembly, aerospace manufacturing, and industries requiring clean room environments like flat panel manufacturing.
As more companies implement ESD programs and appoint ESD coordinators, the demand for products that can minimize the damage caused by electrostatic discharge is rising.
A growing class of products to address ESD concerns is developing including ESD workbenches, ESD chairs and ESD workstations to provide assemblers and manufacturers with furniture that can help combat this problem.
With all of the choices available, a growing concern is finding the right manufacturing partner with the right products for your company.
We will look at some of the attributes for selecting a partner to facilitate your next ESD workbench purchase.
What is ESD?
Before diving in, for those that are just learning about ESD, or purchasing managers that are unfamiliar with the technical aspects of ESD, here is a brief description of the problem.
Electrostatic Discharge is a natural occurrence in which electricity is passed through our body, or other conductor, and discharges onto some object. For example, the shock we feel when we touch a doorknob is an ESD.
It is a problem for many industries. For example, static discharge can ignite flammable mixtures or vapors in laboratories, damage sensitive and expensive electronic components in electronics manufacturing. It can attract contaminants in clean environments or cause products to stick together interfering with the manufacturing process.
Why is this important?
Static discharge can cause damage to sensitive devices with as little as 1 volt of electricity. Most devices need about 100 volts before they are damaged beyond repair.
People can't feel the static discharge until about 2,000 volts and higher. So just because you didn't feel the zap, doesn't mean it didn't occur and damage your assemblies.
For industries that depend on the reliability of components working in extreme conditions, like aerospace manufacturing, the need for a good ESD workbench is paramount.
In some cases, manufacturers may have no idea if a static charge in the manufacturing process has damaged an assembled part unless they test all components one by one or see it fail in the end product. For products related to space exploration, a failed part can be catastrophic.
As you can see, ESD can become a big problem.
Finding the Right Partner
Finding the right manufacturing partner for you next ESD workbench purchase comes down to a few key attributes including, product quality, customization, lead times and of course price.
When shopping for any ESD product the primary concern should be the quality of the product that you are purchasing.
For an ESD workbench, the bench top should be manufactured with high quality ESD Laminate with an imbedded carbon layer for dissipation of static. ESD dissipation rates should be greater than 10/6th but less than 10/9th and be capable of handling 100,000 ohms.
ESD bench tops can be assembled to any type of frame, but typically high quality steel frames with grounding bolts attached to each end of the table provide the most strength and flexibility, and will provide the longest product life cycle.
Your manufacturing partner should have a good track record of creating quality products that can withstand the rigors of your workplace demands.
A manufacturer that has the ability to customize your workbench purchase can be another important factor.
The typical bench top has a rolled front end for safety and comfort with squared edges on the other three sides. However, a good manufacturing partner has the ability to customize shapes and sizes to accommodate different customer needs.
The colors of and ESD workbench are typically light grey or white, however different colors can be created to match design needs, but alternative color customization requires a minimum order size.
One of the most important factors in selecting a manufacturer for any project is product lead times. Once you place your order, how soon will the product arrive at your facility for assembly.
For tight deadlines receiving the shipment of your furniture may be the most important factor in deciding between two qualified candidates. Domestic manufacturers have a significant advantage over their foreign counterparts.
Lead times can be significantly reduced when you don’t have the added layer of complexity of international shipping to contend with. Working with a domestic manufacturer minimizes the risk of working with a cheaper foreign manufacturer to complete your project on time.
For many cost is the ultimate deciding factor in a product purchase. For ESD workbenches, there is extra cost associated with ESD Laminate. You can expect to pay about 15% to 30% more for an ESD product over its non-ESD counterpart. This cost is attributed to time and materials required in the manufacturing process of your tops.
It’s important not to scrimp on an ESD purchase. For sophisticated manufacturers, product failures due to an inferior ESD workbench can be costlier in lost parts in the manufacturing process then a few dollars saved on a cheaper workbench.
Also if you have existing ESD workbenches currently in use that are damaged or in need of repair due to harsh conditions in your facilities, it is wiser and more cost effective to replace the tops rather than attempting to resurface existing tops. The labor rate to resurface existing tops is greater than a purchase of brand new ESD Laminate workbench tops.
Make sure that you look for a manufacturing partner that has all of these attributes. Quality products, customization to meet your needs, short lead times and competitive pricing.
Speak with an ESD expert to get your job done right.