ESD/Conductive and Anti-Static Flooring: The Differences
If you are looking for a flooring solution that deals with static then it’s important that you understand the difference between anti-static and ESD. They both prevent a person from building up a charge as they walk across the floor so they do not get a shock when they touch something that conducts electricity. However, the top layer of an anti-static floor has a coating that dissipates static across its surface so you never build up enough charge to get a shock, whereas ESD is a much more robust solution because it is actually earthed.
The term anti-static refers to a very specific electrical resistance range of between 10⁹ and 10 to the 11 and only means that the floor itself will not generate static. It does not mean that the floor will eliminate static build up or dissipate static that may have already been built up in the body. This can only be achieved with a conductive (resistance range of between 10⁴ x 10⁶) or a dissipative (10⁷ to 10⁹) floor covering.
The term anti-static is often misunderstood and misused, 9 times out of 10 when we are asked for anti-static flooring what the customer actually wants is Electro-Static Dissipative or Conductive Flooring, commonly referred to as ESD flooring.
As a general rule you will need an ESD floor if you are manufacturing, repairing, servicing, handling or using equipment that is susceptible to damage from electro-static discharge, typical sectors would include the manufacture of components for the electronics industry, aviation, automotive, IT, medical, oil and gas, telecoms and IT for example.
ESD flooring gives a much higher level of protection than anti-static matting. This is because it is actually grounded. Ecotile ESD tiles, for example, have millions of small stainless steel fibres running all the way through them. The tiles are then laid out on top of a conductive grid. We then lay earth points every 80 -100 m² so that the electricity flows out through the conductive grid. This is much better than anti-static matting because our stainless steel fibres run all the way through each tile, so their conductive performance never diminishes.
If static or electro-static discharge is more of an inconvenience than a fundamental risk to your processes, for example in the printing industry, warehousing and packaging, food production etc. there are far simpler and more cost effective ways to manage the issue of static discharge.
Cleaning & Maintenance: There are a range of off the shelf anti-static cleaning products available, they work in exactly the same way as a standard floor cleaning chemical but include an anti-static additive that attracts moisture from the atmosphere that eliminates static build up. To further emphasise the importance of correct cleaning it is worth adding that many standard cleaning chemicals can actually increase the risk / propensity to static build up. It is highly recommended that you use a neutral PH cleaning chemical so that you do not add either a positively charged layer over the top of your floor surface.
Furthermore static will build up quicker on a dirty floor, the friction caused by the rubbing of the sole of a shoe and the dust and dirt on the floor will create static. A good and regular cleaning regime using the correct cleaning chemicals will ensure a static free floor.
The next simple step is:
Use the right type of shoes: Certain synthetic / man made shoe soles create a lot of static electricity. Experiment with different shoes. The reason you build up static electricity usually comes from walking on an insulative surface with certain types of insulative shoes, especially when the weather / room humidity is very dry. We would strongly recommend that you avoid trainers or any shoes with rubber soles. Leather soles are good and for the best solution use either anti-static or even better ESD footwear. Providing the correct footwear is a far more cost effective solution that installing a full ESD flooring if you don’t need one!!!!
How are ESD floors installed?
All floors are different but we use a unique interlocking floor tile system that allows us to lay floors quickly and with minimum disruption. If you have raised access flooring you can lift our tiles to get to the cables running underneath the floor or if you have lots of electrical equipment and a server room you would definitely benefit from an ESD floor.
When installing an ESD floor it is important that people entering the area wear the correct footwear or heel straps to ensure the connection between the person and the floor isn’t broken. Everyone should also wear white coats as electricity can jump and it is possible to damage electrical components this way without realising.
For more detailed information you can download our installation guide here https://www.ecotileflooring.com/support/certificates-and-downloads/
Or watch this video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4-dNngajiCY
Lucinda O’Reilly, Exports & Marketing Director is an integral part of the team that has grown Ecotile Flooring in to the successful manufacturing business it is today. Over the last 20 years she has successfully employed her skills in sales and marketing to ensure Ecotile Flooring is recognised as the market leading manufacturer of PVC interlocking floor tiles. Lucinda’s love of travel means the Ecotile brand is dominant all over Europe, North America, the Middle East, Asia and India.
To ensure compliance with export regulations Lucinda has gained accreditations from the Chamber of Commerce in Incoterms & Export Licence Controls and Export Procedures & Documentation and has completed the Institute of Export course on Incoterms 2020. She is a member of the Institute of Export, was a finalist in the Natwest Open to Export competition in 2018 and was instrumental in Ecotile Flooring winning a Queen’s Enterprise for International Trade in 2017. Lucinda has recently been interviewed by BBC News and Channel 4 News for her insights on Brexit and is an Export Champion for the Department for International Trade.