By: David Roberge on June 29th, 2017
Anti-Static Packaging and How it can Benefit Your Business
What is anti-static packaging (ASP)? How can it benefit your business? Why is it beneficial for non-electronic consumer goods, too? In order to answer these questions you first have to understand why it is needed. The short answer: The main driver of electronics damage is improper packaging. Also, static attracts dust, which is not attractive to a consumer. The age of electronics is beyond upon us, and now we are developing faster, smaller devices that are all the more sensitive to electrical damage. Electrostatic discharge (ESD )is well-known in the electronics manufacturing industry due to the sensitive nature of the components that are required for their finished goods. You can rely on ASP to reduce damaged goods throughout the supply chain, and to keep your products clean in any environment. By gaining a better understanding of the causes of ESD, you can ground (see what I did there?) your business by following best practices in proper packaging
What is Electrostatic Discharge?
Have you ever been the victim of an electro-static shock? The startling jolt of electrical excitement is caused by something called an electrostatic discharge (ESD), and in common minor cases it causes little to no noticeable damage to our body, but it can wreak havoc on electrical components, like semiconductors. Generally, materials (including our bodies) and surfaces are neutrally charged because there are equal amounts of protons, neutrons and electrons within and on them. However, electrons can move freely between these surfaces when they make contact one another, which can cause one to become more positively or negatively charged than the other. These electrons can build up by contact, friction, heat, pressure and induction; all of which in turn will cause the 'shock' of electrostatic discharge when another surface is contacted.
Why Does ESD Damage Electrical Components?
According to a study done by industry experts, up to 33% of electrical product loss is caused by static. Due to the small size of the components of most electronics, their thermal mass (ability to resist rapid temperature change) is limited. With our ability to produce smaller and faster products by the year, the components and circuitry used are even more sensitive than ever. With static, the minuscule spark generated from static electricity may seem irrelevant to the human body, however even the smallest charge is enough to cause tiny electrical components to fail. With the current of an electrical charge, it will travel on any available path to equalize itself, causing damage on it's way.
How Can I Reduce ESD Damage in my Manufacturing Operation?
The first step to reducing damaged goods in electronics manufacturing is to implement policies and procedures that will reduce the static on your production floor. Although static cannot be completely removed there are many ways to mitigate and reduce static from the work floor. Human contact is a driver of electrical damage, because as mentioned above, we carry electrical charges in our bodies as well as on our clothing. There are static-resistant garments, electrostatic wristbands, and mats available to direct any static on them to a ground.
The next step to reduce damaged goods is to utilize anti-static packaging.
What is Anti-Static Packaging?
ASP comes in a few different forms, but the main benefit is obvious, it will resist static. To determine the ideal type of anti-stat for your products, working with a packaging professional will make your decisions far easier. ASP materials range from bagging to tubing and stretch film. They work by preventing static electricity from building up and discharging, causing the damage and increased costs mentioned above. Once your products are placed in ESD packaging or anti-stat packaging, they will be safe from the dangers of ESD until opened or taken out again. Anti-stat additives can be used in many types of packaging including stretch film, foam, bubble wrap and more. Let's run over a few of the most common types of anti-stat available today:
Static-Dissipative bags and tubing are also known as pink anti-static (PAS) or pink-poly due to their traditional coloring. They are an economical option that provides protection against static dissipation. These types of bags are best used for non-critical applications where shielding against static fields is not important. With the use of a humectant additive in a low -density polyethylene (LDPE) will pull water molecules from the air, creating a sort of shield of protection around the packaging, reducing the accumulation of damaging static.
Static-shielding bags and tubing are also known as transparent metallic shielding. These multilayer bags and tubestock are semitransparent and metallic, and protect sensitive products from electrostatic fields. The outer layer is low-charging and static-dissipative, a second conductive layer contains metal and suppresses electric fields, and a layer made of polyester provides added tear and puncture strength.
These types of bags can come in two forms; metal-in, and metal-out. Metal-in bags are more durable and less expensive, with the metal layer buried in an inner portion of the bag. If you are looking for more rapid static-dissipation, metal-out bagging is the better option. It is more expensive, but provides more protection by placing the metal layer nearer to the surface of the bagging. These types of bags come most often in a recloseable, lay-flat configuration.
Black Conductive Tubing
Another form of static control for packaging is coined 'black conductive'. It most often available in tubestock and layflat bagging, but can be customizable. It's made of a single layer of conductive material (most often carbon-load polyethylene) that will protect its contents from the buildup of isolated static charges.
Implementing anti-static packaging will provide multiple benefits as you can see from everything mentioned above. These benefits include reduced costs, reduced stress, and the benefit of significantly reduced damaged goods. It shouldn't be limited to electronics packaging, either. will keep dust from accumulating on your products, making them shine on the shelf to attract consumers to purchase!
If you are interested in learning more about ways to protect your products with flexible packaging, the Ultimate Guide To Protective Packaging is a must-download. Plus, it's FREE!
About David Roberge
I am grateful for my 9 years as part of the outstanding Industrial Packaging team. I was able to hang out with some of the most knowledgeable folks in the packaging industry. I feel even luckier that I was able to share that knowledge with you. I love learning, hiking, and growing people and teams both personally and professionally, and helping companies grow better.