Static electricity and the resulting electrostatic discharge (ESD) have never been uncommon occurrences, simply resulting from the contact and separation of two materials. In fact, ESD is very often harmless, like when you walk across a carpeted floor and feel a slight spark after touching a metal doorknob. But, in the electronic age, with a sure need for activities that manufacture, process, assemble, install, package, label, service, test, inspect, transport or otherwise handle electrical or electronic parts, assemblies and equipment, electrostatic discharge from human skin and other surfaces can be detrimental to important materials.
To help organizations better prevent electrostatic discharge, a technical report, ESD TR20.20-2016 – Handbook for the Development of an Electrostatic Discharge Control Program for the Protection of Electronic Parts, Assemblies, and Equipment, has been revised.
We have discussed the concept of electrostatic discharge and methods for its prevention in the past. This topic is the primary concern of ANSI accredited standards developing organization the Electrostatic Discharge Association, which has published a collection of standards documents that give compliant users the capability to prevent an ESD event. In general, their guidelines call for the use of grounding wrist straps for the personnel in contact with the ESD sensitive equipment, so that any electrostatic discharge coming from them is directed away from the sensitive electronic material. In addition, the nonprofit organization encourages practices that lower the risk of an ESD occurring at all.
The ESD TR20.20-2016 Handbook acts as a supplement to ANSI/ESD S20.20-2014 – Protection of Electrical and Electronic Parts, Assemblies and Equipment (Excluding Electrically Initiated Explosive Devices). The ANSI/ESD S20.20-2014 standard is intended to provide technical requirements for implementing and maintaining an ESD control program.
Such a program applies to any activities involving electronic parts or equipment that might be susceptible to electrostatic discharge greater than or equal to 100 volts HBM, 200 volts CDM, and 35 volts on isolated conductors. The recommendations in this standard call for the user to utilize sufficient training, equipment, and practices to assure that little to no damage will come to the ESD susceptible products.
ESD TR20.20-2016, as technical report that serves as a companion to the standard, helps the user meet the guidelines for an ESD control program by extensively detailing the subject of electrostatic discharge and the methods to control it. This report truly walks the reader through practically every concern that could arise with electrostatic discharge. It even devotes a lengthy chunk of the document to discussing the background of ESD, and not just the science behind it, but also the history of electrostatic discharge and the practice of mitigating it.
Furthermore, the technical report elaborates on the causes of electrostatic discharges, and provides the following table to demonstrate its common sources:
ESD TR20.20-2016 is thoroughly descriptive on these topics to give the reader an incredibly strong understanding on why electrostatic discharge might occur in particular situations. This would thus allow him or her to conduct an advanced ESD control plan, with well-trained personnel and a verification process suitable enough to guarantee the minimal risk for an ESD to occur over time.
While clarifying almost everything related to electrostatic discharge, this document should act as a resource for any challenges that the user might come across, providing the knowledge necessary for conducting their appropriate solutions.
1. Electrostatic Discharge Association, ESD TR20.20-2016 – Handbook for the Development of an Electrostatic Discharge Control Program for the Protection of Electronic Parts, Assemblies, and Equipment (Rome: ESD Association, 2016), 7.