Bye to static cling, hello ESD flooring

The static cling or a shock after the simple slide of an office chair may be more serious than one may think.

Even the smallest electrostatic discharge (ESD), under 25 volts (it takes 3,500 volts to give humans a shock), can render copy machines, computers, medical, and communications equipment inoperative.

"Microcircuits inside electronic equipment perceive a static discharge as an overwhelming burst of energy," said Dave Long of Staticworx® , an ESD flooring manufacturer in Newton, Mass. "Devices are susceptible to the invisible threat of static electricity, a phenomenon even more ubiquitous than the common cold."

According to Long, flooring is the primary site of ESD generation.

"Fortunately, it is the easiest place to mitigate the problem," he said. "Today, almost every conceivable floor covering can be manufactured with some sort of static protective properties."

Facility managers and owners can select from a variety of floor types, including vinyl, epoxy, carpet, and rubber flooring for their building.

According to Long, vinyl is the oldest and most effective ESD flooring material, while epoxies are easy to install and maintain. ESD carpet tiles are made of heavier denier fiber, and therefore can withstand the punishment of high-traffic areas, while rubber provides an anti-fatigue floor and dampens noise better. (See chart.)

A comparison of ESD flooring types

  Carpet Conductive vinyl Epoxy Rubber

Durability

Not suitable for heavy loads

Good

Excellent

Good

Maintenance

Vacuum only

Requires wax or regular buffing

Sweep or mop

Easily cleaned, soap and water

Installation

Easiest

Average

Easy

Average

Slip resistance

>0.6

0.5-0.6

>0.6

>0.6

Chemical resistance

Poor

Good

Superior

Superior

Sound absorption

Excellent

4 dB

Not sound resistant

5-19 dB

Anti-fatiguing

Excellent

No

No

Good

Wear layer

N/A

Minimum

N/A

Total thickness

Color consistency for projects of any size

Yes

No

Yes

Yes

In addition to choosing ESD flooring, special ESD control products, including highly specialized finishes, sealers, cleaners, and spray buff/maintainers, can be specially designed to dissipate static charges on all flooring surfaces.

According to Long, the desire for faster computer technologies has given way to the lack of internal shields previously built into electronic equipment. This, he says, has placed "significant pressures" on the building industry, leaving government agencies, casinos, hospitals, call centers, and office buildings to compensate with special ESD flooring products.



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