The Pros and Cons of Different ESD Flooring Options for Electronic Manufacturing

by Peter Collins - Sales Representative for Texas

 

The Pros and Cons of Different ESD Flooring Options for Electronic Manufacturing

“Choices are the hinges of destiny.”

-   Pythagoras

 

Dissipative vs. Conductive Flooring in A Nutshell

 

When comparing the various ESD flooring options for a professional work environment, the first consideration should be to define the electrical resistance requirements of the EPA (ESD Protected Area) in question. A flooring material’s generic level of resistance to conductivity (opposition to the flow of an electrical current) is defined as either static dissipative or static conductive. Simply put, the higher the resistance is, the lower the conductivity will be.

 

Every material has an electrical resistance and that resistance is a measure of how much the material opposes the passage of electrons through it. How conductive a material is, is measured in terms of its resistance or impedance to the flow of electricity. The standard unit of measure for electrical resistance is the ohm (symbolized by the Ω sign).

 

The ESD Association) defines conductive flooring as that which has aresistance of up to 1 million Ω. The association defines dissipative flooring as that which hasaresistance of more than 1 million Ω and up to 1 billion Ω. So, a material with a resistance of close to zero Ω (like copper or carbon) would be extremely conductive while a material with a resistance of a billion Ω or more (like wood) will offer a higher resistance and be less conductive. When specifying a floor coating’s ESD requirements, it’s becoming more common to quantify the necessary resistance range as opposed to simply specifying that the coating be either dissipative or conductive.

 

(For additional information on how ESD flooring works and why it is essential in the electronics manufacturing industry, click here.)

 

Types of ESD Flooring - Pros and Cons   

 

ESD Wax

Pros:  Low initial cost; attractive initial appearance

Cons: Short term solution; dissipative only; high maintenance cost

 

ESD Vinyl Tiles

Pros:  Low initial cost;

Cons: Discontinuous with multiple linear ft. of seams; susceptible to delamination under heavy loads

 

ESD Carpet

Pros:  Low to moderate upfront cost; sound dampening

Cons: Not appropriate for rolling or heavy traffic

 

ESD Rubber 

Pros:  Effective in a wide variety of environments

Cons: Highest upfront cost of all options

 

Liquid Applied Epoxy

Pros: Moderate initial cost; seamless; long lasting; recoatable; high chemical resistence if needed

Cons: Must be applied by experienced & qualified installation crews

 

Liquid Applied Polyurethane

Pros: Moderate initial cost; gloss retention; seamless; long lasting; recoatable; good chemical resistance

Cons: Must be applied by experienced & qualified installation crews

 

Which Type of ESD Flooring is the Right Choice?

 

The single most important part of making the right ESD flooring choice for any organization is that there is top-to-bottom understanding, buy-in and support from the management team. As with any capital investment, it’s important to evaluate, identify and decide which ESD flooring option is the best choice based on absolute needs, desired but not essential features, production and installation considerations and budgetary realities. Based on an accurate assessment of the organization’s actual situation, sometimes a short term, least expensive option will be the best one, while other cases will point to an initially more expensive but longer lasting and lower maintenance solution as the most cost effective one.

 

A well designed audit will answer questions like: is there a legitimate need for ESD protection; is the need temporary or long term; what type of substrate will the coating or covering be applied to; is the substrate protected from moisture vapor emissions; what type of traffic will the flooring be subjected to; what is the flooring’s expected service life; what are the short and long term aesthetic expectations; how important is cleanability; what installation requirements or restrictions are there; what are the coating’s or covering’s real upfront and longer term maintenance costs?

 

One ESD flooring option is not necessarily better than another. Instead, essential needs, added value, production and installation parameters and cost considerations should all be measured and weighed. Once done, it will become clear which option is the one that best serves a particular organization’s needs with respect to its specific existing or future EPA (ESD Protected Area). 

 

Why Arizona Polymer Flooring?

 

Although APF isn’t the only option when it comes to workplace floor coatings that offer durable and dependable ESD protection, there isn’t a more effective alternative than our line of StatRez® coatings. StatRez ESD coatings come in a variety of options, including abrasion, traffic, impact and highly chemical resistant conductive and dissipative versions.

 

APF manufactures consistently high-quality products, and we work closely with our authorized and experienced installation partners to bridge the gap between APF materials and the finished, properly installed floor coating. Additionally, APF manufactures a full line of auxiliary floor coating systems (like VaporSolve® moisture barrier coatings) that work in conjunction with its ESD protective coatings. This is why design and industry professionals nationwide trust APF’s StatRez line of ESD coatings. For additional information on StatRez ESD flooring from APF, a white paper is available here.