Common Mistakes When Selecting a Static Contol Floor
by David Long
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ince the invention of the first microprocessor by Intel in 1971, there has been a steady drive to create smaller, faster and more complex electronic circuitry. According to the Sematech Roadmap for Semiconductors (www.sematech.org), the continued scaling of tiny, lighteningquick electronic devices has, and will continue to, generate significant challenges for designers and, by extension, users of next generation semiconductors. Many of these challenges will involve the need for stringent static control procedures from wafer fabrication facilities all the way through to computer rooms and any space where electronic devices are handled, stored or used. Ted Dangelmayer, a leading authority on ESD, says “this rapid advance of technology and the associated design constraints are producing devices with ever increasing sensitivity to ESD. A recent benchmarking study of integrated circuit suppliers indicated that ESD will be one of the top three reliability concerns within the next five years and already is with certain products.” Static discharge is certainly not a new phenomenon to the computer industry. For years static has been documented as a significant contributor to serious problems, including computer freeze-ups, loss of data, dropped phone calls and, in the worst cases, head crashes, failures of semiconductors and
ultimately shutdowns of mission critical operations involving computer and telephony equipment used in military and health and safety applications. Static problems are particularly acute in hospitals, server rooms, 9-1-1 call centers and flight control towers. And the introduction of the next generation of faster more sensitive components will only elevate these concerns. The combination of the ubiquitous reliance on electronic devices and the increased sensitivity of those devices to static electricity are forcing facilities engineers to reanalyze conventional building materials and design static free environments so static cannot become a problem in the first place. Over the past 20 years ESD awareness has created an entire industry devoted to producing antistatic and conductive versions of commonplace items such as garments, plastic bins, table covering, chairs as well as floor tiles and carpeting. The good news is that it is now possible to locate and install an antistatic version of almost any building, flooring or upholstery material for a static sensitive work space. The bad news is that selecting the right material can be confusing for the novice and sometimes even for the experienced engineer or architect.
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For example, choosing the wrong ESD flooring can be as disastrous as having no static protection at all. Understandably, it is much more expensive to remove and reinstall flooring in an occupied building than it was to install the right floor the first time. In many cases, when the wrong floor is installed it’s because the proper homework was not done up front. A substantial amount of confusion results from a general lack of knowledge about static control specifications and standards combined with confusing and/or contradictory data found on the Internet. Because of the massive amount of both reliable as well as unreliable information available on the web, facility designers often make the same common mistakes when selecting static control flooring materials. Here are seven common mistakes in choosing the right static control floor, and how to avoid them. Mistake #1: Confusion of Static Control Terminology There are a number of terms sellers use to describe static control flooring. Although these terms are often used as if they were synonymous, they are not interchangeable. These terms are sometimes used incorrectly in marketing materials. When terms...
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