Don't Be Shocked by These Anti-Static Flooring Facts
Don’t Be Shocked by These Anti-Static Flooring Facts
If you’re like many clients, you might be curious about anti-static flooring and its characteristics. When searching for the right flooring for a space in your facility, you want something safe and durable that also keeps the room comfortable. This can be difficult, especially when you get into some of the technical features flooring materials can have.
What to Know About Anti-Static Flooring
What is Anti-Static Flooring?
An anti-static floor can be used in a range of business spaces. If you have equipment that is sensitive to static charges, or manufacturer computer chips or have solvents or flammables in your facility you will benefit from ESD flooring.
But what is anti-static flooring, exactly? Anti-static or ESD (electrostatic discharge) flooring inhibits electrostatic discharge from occurring. Most people refer to electrostatic discharge as a “shock.” Think of all the times you’ve touched a surface and felt a small shock – the shock is more intense if you’ve been treading upon carpet for a while. Anti-static flooring is designed to prevent this phenomenon from happening.
An anti-static floor impedes electrostatic discharges from getting started. The rapid surge of electricity (called ESD or electrostatic discharge) happens when certain objects come into direct contact with another object. These do not usually cause harm but can be startling, annoying, and, in some instances, slightly dangerous (more on that later).
ESD floors are made from a combination of materials, such as carbon fibers. These can help move the electrostatic charge from the person through the floor to an earth ground, reducing the instances of static discharge made from contact. This type of flooring can come in a range of different styles to suit everyone’s personal tastes.
Anti-static flooring systems are based on the same industrial systems that make up non ESD floors, making it very durable. These floors are commonly used in manufacturing spaces, where floors get a lot of traffic and can deteriorate faster than in other spaces.
How Do Anti-Static Floors Work?
It’s common to wonder how ESD or anti-static floors work. Put simply, they are positively charged to draw the negative charges that build up on a person and dissipate the built-up static electricity to the ground, passing it through the floor. In other words, they ground the electrical charge. This grounding prevents the electrostatic discharge from building up and potentially discharging.
To go into more detail, anti-static flooring includes conductive materials to immediately move built-up charges, including those produced from walking on the surface. If you wear conductive footwear when someone’s foot touches the anti-static coating, a chain reaction occurs that moves the charge down through the floor and away. One of the most common designs involves the charge going to a conductive primer filled with carbon. This design has a shallow resistance level. From there, the charge travels to copper tape buried under the coating. This copper tape then connects with a safe earthing point.
Importantly, all anti-static raised floor tiles will need an earthing/grounding point. This is usually a highly conductive metal rod that is deep in the slab of the building, but it can also be a plug socket, steel beam, or something else. ANSI standards state that you need a copper tape or similar tied to an earth ground for every 1,000 Sq. Ft. of floor. Your flooring company can help you figure out what you need and determine anti-static flooring prices.
Why Types of Actions Produce Static?
Nearly every type of movement will lead to some buildup of static electricity, however small. As mentioned earlier, a few steps on the carpet in an office can build up static electricity. So can larger movements, such as heavy machinery or equipment moving on warehouse floors. Even the moving parts of a machine in a factory can cause electrostatic buildup.
It’s true that most electrostatic discharges aren’t dangerous – most people can’t even detect them, as they are usually under 3,500 volts. However, some electronics and chemicals can be sensitive to discharges that humans can’t detect. And there is always the potential for larger discharges. For reference, some sensitive electronics can be damaged with just 100 volts, which can be generated by a single person walking across the floor. Moreover, a small charge can make a big impact if it sparks a fire. Anti-static flooring systems prevent even those smaller discharges or shocks from occurring.
Where Should Anti-Static Floors Be Used?
For a selection of reasons, many industries need anti-static flooring to help maintain a level of safety. Businesses with flammable materials and chemicals being used require static-free rooms so that flammable pieces do not ignite, causing a dangerous fire. If you use any flammable materials or flammable chemicals, you need anti-static flooring. Processing or manufacturing chemicals typically requires this type of flooring. And facilities that feature explosive fog, dust, and vapors can be at risk from electrostatic discharge.
Electronic components are also sensitive to electrostatic discharge. Should a “shock” happen, these electronics may be rendered useless. As such, businesses that produce electronic goods should install anti-static flooring.
In addition to these businesses, sensitive work environments such as air-traffic control rooms or hospitals must take added precautions to keep static at bay. Those sensitive work environments need industrial flooring that resists static because of the specialized electronics they use.
Other industries that may need anti-static floors include military operations, photographic operations, optical lenses, micromechanics, pyrotechnics, munitions, lasers, pharmaceuticals, biotech, medical and surgical environments, and some food and beverage environments.
What Are the Benefits of Esd Flooring?
The biggest advantage of anti-static flooring is its ability to prevent the buildup of electrostatic charges – but this is far from the only benefit. Additional benefits of anti-static flooring include:
Reducing or Eliminating Static Charges
It’s worth repeating that static charges can be quite dangerous. In the right conditions, they can cause injury, start a fire, or trigger explosions. So, anti-static epoxy floor paint can eliminate these risks.
Improves Safety and Reduces Potential Costs
By preventing static discharges, anti-static floors keep everyone in your facility safe. They won’t be shocked by a large discharge and are less likely to be injured in a fire or explosion caused by an electronic discharge. Even if no one gets injured in a fire or explosion, the damage it causes to your assets could be extensive. As such, the initial anti-static flooring prices potentially save your company a significant amount that would be spent on repairs or replacing equipment.
Many types of anti-static flooring are incredibly easy to install, especially when handled by professionals. And in many cases, you can add anti-static epoxy floor coatings instead of replacing the floor entirely, keeping costs down.
Easy to Clean and Maintain
No matter the type of flooring you choose, you want something that is easy to clean – that’s especially true with anti-static flooring, as dirt can reduce its anti-static properties.
In addition to being easy to clean, most ESD flooring is also very simple to maintain. It won’t require special upkeep other than good housekeeping pratices. Part of the reason anti-static floors are low-maintenance is that they don’t flake, peel, warp, corrode, or chip like some other types of floors. Their impact resistance also helps with maintenance.
Resistant and Durable
As with any industrial flooring, anti-static materials are highly durable. They can handle frequent use, both by people and machinery, as well as resist major impacts.
Multiple Styles Available
Another great thing about anti-static floors is that you can choose from various styles and materials. This means that you can get FDA-approved flooring that works well in any space, regardless of physical needs and aesthetic preferences.
How to Choose Your Anti-Static Floor
Anti-static flooring has many uses, so you will have a variety of choices when selecting yours. The first part of the process is understanding the requirements and risks for your specific need – this includes knowing how electrostatic energy is created in your work area. You need to estimate your average ESD strength and the possible consequences of a “shock” in the environment.
Next, you will want to understand the different terminology used when discussing static control so that you understand the flooring you are comparing.
Ohms are the unit of measurement given for the impedance or resistance of anti-static floors. This term is from the German physicist, Georg Ohm, who found Ohm’s Law. This is the law governing electrical flow through conductors. You will be able to choose from dissipative and conductive systems. Conductive flooring can resist up to 1 mega Ohm, while static dissipative flooring resists 1 mega Ohm to 100 mega Ohms. Air traffic control towers, emergency call centers, and other mission-critical facilities tend to opt for static dissipative flooring.
Keep Your Facility and Team Safe with Anti-Static Flooring from Kaloutas
To take advantage of all the benefits that anti-static flooring can provide for your facility, have Kaloutas install and maintain ESD flooring for you. We can help you evaluate your needs and then install the appropriate ESD flooring for your space. Our floors meet high standards, and their electrical properties are guaranteed for five years.