that may lose their effectiveness if not properly maintained.
Some manufacturers have also added antimicrobials to solid vinyl ESD tiles,
which makes them ideal for areas that require resistance to staining by fungi
and streptoverticillium reticulum, a pink stain organism. The pure virgin vinyl
composition provides excellent resistance to abrasion, chipping, cracking, and
permanent indentations for heavy-duty performance requirements. It helps
conceal most substrate irregularities, and yet it is flexible for fast and economical
installations. ESD tiles may also be “heat welded” producing a seamless installation for a precision fit. These monolithic tiles are generally uniform with respect to
color, pattern effect, and composition throughout the thickness of the tile.
Similarly, ESD rubber tiles installed with specially formulated conductive
adhesive create a continuous conductive pathway for static charges to flow
to the ground point. This dissipative flooring system attacks voltage generation
at the source: the floor-shoe or floor-caster interface. When used in conjunction
with static control footwear and wrist straps, rubber flooring can provide
greater mobility in areas requiring a solution for unwanted Human Body
Voltage (HBV) with a high level of personnel traffic13.
As an added benefit, ESD rubber tiles may also contribute to LEED® CI
and NC credits MR 4, MR 5, and MR 6. Some ESD-related flooring products
are also now manufactured in the U.S., which ensures a high level of quality
and consistency, and can contribute to locally sourced material credits under
LEED as well.
Of course, before any ESD flooring can be put into use, proper testing
and certification to acceptable industry standards should be acquired. Noncompliant ESD flooring can cause damage to electronic parts, critical communication and software errors, and even fires and explosions; it can also jeopardize
productivity and cut into profits, as described at the onset of this article.
As a general rule, manufacturers follow the ANSI/ESD 20. 20 protocol for
ESD flooring and related products, a process document that recommends
parameters from three different testing methods14:
1. ANSI/ESD STM 7.1—Floor Materials—Resistive Characterization of
Materials. Any flooring material must measure below 1.0 X 109 ohms to
ground. However, the flooring must also comply with the 2 parameters
2. ANSI/ESD STM 97.1—Floor Materials and Footwear—Resistance in
Combination with a Person. The recommended maximum system
resistance is 3. 5 X 107.
3. ANSI/ESD STM 97.2—Floor Materials and Footwear Voltage
Measurement in Combination with a Person. The recommended
maximum voltage allowed is 100 volts.
Although many flooring manufacturers erroneously state that their products
meet ANSI/ESD S20.20, a more accurate assessment is that their floors
will measure less than 1.0 X 109, which is merely one component of a more
complex scenario involving potential ESD events15. In other words, a floor
should never be evaluated in isolation. It must always be qualified as part of
an overall system that includes all variables: the floor, the person, and the
controlled footwear. When the system is evaluated, the only way to confidently
meet the recommended parameters of ANSI/ESD S 20.20-2007 is to install a
floor measuring less than 100,000,000 ohms to ground16.
Understanding the electrical specifications of ESD floors alone is not enough
to make an informed decision about which product is appropriate for a specific
application, as the effectiveness of conductive and static dissipative tiles vary
greatly. There are two main areas where static control requirements need to
be considered: in real-world environments where electronics are used, such
as data centers, call centers, flight control areas, command rooms, server
rooms, etc.; and in static-free controlled environments such as a clean room
or other facility where electronics are actually manufactured17.
As a result, designers and specifiers need to carefully select the right flooring
products for the job. The following list of questions18, when considered in light
of each flooring product’s performance characteristics outlined earlier, will help
determine the type of ESD product that’s best for the application:
w What will the installation conditions be?
w What type of traffic will the floor see?
w What type of product will be manufactured in the facility (electronics)?
w What is the desired useful life of the floor?
w Are aesthetics important?
w Is this a cleanroom application?
Giving thoughtful consideration to these questions, when combined with
the help of a certified ESD hazard assessment professional, will guide you in
making more informed decisions with regard to ESD flooring. The good news
is that with a broad spectrum of new colors and styles from which to choose
from, designers don’t have to sacrifice aesthetics to ensure that their clients
have safe, productive, and beautiful working environments.
interiorsandsources.com MAY 2015 INTERIORS & SOURCES 111
1, 2, 4-6, 8 Electrostatic Discharge Association, “ESD Fundamentals,” (2013)
3 Electrostatic Solutions, Ltd., “Counting the Cost of ESD,” (2007)
7 Techopedia.com, “What Does Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Mean?” (2015)
9, 10 National Safety Council, “Shock Treatment: Preventing the Unseen Dangers of Static Electricity,” (2007)
11, 18 SEMATECH, “Static Control Flooring Basics,” (2003)
12, 13 Flexco.com, (2015)
14-17 Static Worx, “Dissipative or Conductive: Which is right for electronics manufacturing?” (2015)
ESD flooring comes in a variety of types and
styles, from "no-wax" vinyl sheets or tiles to rubber flooring, and a broad spectrum
of colors means designers don't have to sacrifice aesthetics for performance.