ESD Laminate is one of the best surface materials you can use in your workspace if sensitivity to static is a critical issue you must address.
Static electricity can pose a major problem in workspaces, especially laboratories and industrial settings. This reaction that is caused by friction can impact production, accuracy and worker safety. It’s especially important to address static electricity risks if your workspace has cleanroom requirements or specific Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) requirements.
There are a number of solutions that can reduce static electricity, one of which is the type of surface you install in your workspace. ESD Laminate work surfaces, in particular, are ideal for applications where parts and materials are sensitive to static, and need protection.
Below are some frequent questions about ESD Laminate surfaces that will help you determine whether this type of material is the right choice for your workspace.
What Is ESD Laminate?
Electrostatic discharge, or ESD, occurs when two objects rub together and one object gives up electrons to another object. This causes one to become more positively charged while the other object becomes more negatively charged, creating a charge imbalance once the two materials or objects separate.
These charges then may build up on an object’s surface until they find a way to be discharged. In industrial workspaces and laboratories, static electricity can interfere with weighing accuracy, cleanroom specifications and safety requirements.
To combat this problem, ESD Laminate surfaces are made of high pressure laminate with a carbon layer that dissipates any static that is generated. This type of surface also provides other benefits, such as resistance to staining and chemicals that include acetone, gasoline and 10% ammonium solutions. An ESD Laminate workbench also can be configured to include shelving and accessories to meet storage needs.
What Care Is Required?
Though durable, ESD Laminate surfaces require care to avoid damage, which could impact the ESD and chemical resistance properties.
Overall, however, the care required to maintain the integrity of this type of surface is in line with most other materials. For example, laminates should be cleaned with a particle-free, non-abrasive, damp cloth. Mild soap or a good ammonia detergent, water and a plain cotton rag should be used, not abrasive cleaners or harsh chemicals.
Steel wool, or anything that could scratch the surface, also should be avoided. When surface punctures or deep scratches occur, the coatings on the laminate have been compromised, and ESD protection may be lost. Chemicals also may infiltrate the substructure, creating further damage.
It’s also important to regularly check laboratory work surfaces for damage, wear and tear. ESD work surfaces should be tested on a regular basis with a megohmmeter, which can ensure the surface meets required standards for safety.
What Does It Cost?
The cost of ESD Laminate work surfaces vary by quality and manufacturer. However, generally, this type of work surface can be more expensive than its counterparts. Expect to pay about 15 to 30% more for an ESD product over a non-ESD product.
It’s important to keep in mind that prevention is better than replacement. Although countertops today are constructed using state-of-the-art design and high-quality materials, proper care and maintenance goes a long way in preserving your investment.
What Else Should I Consider?
As you’re researching your options of which type of surface would be best for your work space, there are a few additional details you should consider.
Make sure any product you examine has been tested by Underwriters Laboratory (UL) to comply with California regulations and other fire ratings.
Consider what a warranty covers, and how long it lasts. The last thing you want to worry about when making a significant investment is replacing the product. Look for manufacturers who provide a warranty to ensure you have a good product.
Look for a company that will customize to meet your needs. Once you choose an ESD Laminate surface, especially if you’re replacing or installing a new workstation, you’ll want to evaluate any additional options that can save you space, provide security and optimize your work environment.
Our article, Why Details Matter When Building Industrial Furniture, provides ideas on some of the fine details of a workstation design you should pay attention to when navigating your choices.
Static electricity can be a significant issue - even dangerous issue - in today’s laboratory and industrial workspaces. The surface you choose for workstations can play an important role in minimizing these risks.
ESD Laminate surfaces are ideal if your operations occur in an environment where parts and materials are sensitive to static and require protection. It’s essential to look for a manufacturer that provides a total grounding system that grounds all surfaces, shelves and the frame. Doing so not only will protect your equipment, but also your most valuable asset, your employees.