The selection of ESD floors are oftentimes one of the most challenging decisions that specifiers and buyers encounter in the course of creating a world-class ESD program. The installation of anti static coatings represents a major capital investment. The ESD epoxy flooring affects your organization's operational performance, as well as your company image, and can also affect the bottom line. Latent defects in your company's products, caused by faulty ESD flooring, could cost your company many times the original cost of the new flooring.
The engineering, production, QA, and purchasing personnel have competing interests; these include total cost of ownership, durability, company image, safety, aesthetics, maintenance, and static control. Specifiers typically turn to their general contractor or material distributor, to obtain ESD properties. Unless they specialize in installation of ESD flooring, these sources will often have limited ESD knowledge of the installation process, or the usual field-tested results of the products. Or else purchasing may simply contact a supplier of miscellaneous ESD supplies (heel straps, ionizers, etc.) to get advice on installation concerns (flooring materials or installation). This would be similar to having a flooring company recommend ESD mats or wristraps. Not a good solution!
The specifier must speak with a knowledgeable project estimator who works for the flooring applicator. This person must have a solid grasp of the floor preparation process, the materials, the electrical properties, and the warranty. If the buyer does not feel comfortable with the background and knowledge of the installing contractor, then you need to seek another firm, since the results can be disastrous.
A basic question, which often arises, is whether the flooring should be conductive or dissipative? A little known fact are that the terms "conductive" and "static dissipative" were originally developed for the packaging industry, and included table covering materials, tote boxes, garments and flooring. It was also decided that conductive materials would create a safety problem for personnel, which turned out to be incorrect.
Therefore, in the past, most ESD flooring was specified to be dissipative (<1Billion ohms) resistance. The current standard requires a conductivity of <35Million ohms, as per ESD-20.20-2007 which protects sensitive electronic components against walking body voltage (voltage generated by personnel walking on the floor). As a result of the current standards, the final determination is that ESD floor coatings should be selected solely on properties that specifically apply to flooring.
note: a good reference for ESD standards, is available from the ESD Association, on their website (www.esda.org). They provide quality, timely electrical data for an ESD control program.
ANSI/ESD-S20.20-2007 first recommends a resistance below 1 x 10E9 for the floor by itself. However, total system resistance (total of person, wristrap,heelstrap, floor) is recommended to be less than 35 megohms RTC (<35 x 10E6).
The electrical range for static dissipative flooring should be (<35 megohms). This takes precedence over the S20.20 maximum flooring resistance threshold (1x 10E9 megohms). Following these recommendations shall ensure that walking body voltage shall remain below 100 volts, which is the most important criteria for a static dissipating floor (also a S20.20 requirement).
About the Author: Robert Long, Sales Manager with EP Floors Corp., has over 25 years of experience in the industrial epoxy flooring business. He attends technical training seminars regularly, on the latest ESD flooring innovations, and has managed over a thousand epoxy flooring projects. For more information Robert may be reached at http://www.epfloors.com/ or by email at rlong@EPFloors.com
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