Electrostatic discharge (ESD) is a rapid, spontaneous transfer of electrostatic charge from one object to another. Albeit not dangerous to humans, these small zaps can destroy sensitive electronic equipment like PCBs (Printed Circuit Boards) and microchips. Hence, these components will need to be protected by ESD-safe materials. Here we describe ESD in combination with sensitive electronic parts, and what the long-term consequences can be if it goes wrong.
The dangers of Electrostatic discharge
Since electronic components exist in everything from transportation and communication equipment to life-saving units, they must be protected by covers and similar parts that can handle the electric tension and divert electrical disturbances.
These are different methods used by producers to eliminate ESD from the factory floor and the construction line:
- Robots equipped with grippers and tailored end effectors made by ESD-safe materials.
- Assembly line workers using ESD safe tools, alignment jigs, tiles and retaining fixtures during manual production assembly steps.
- Boots, protective gear and caps made of ESD-safe materials to protect PCB touchpoints and cords during chemical baths and conformal coating processes.
- Everything that gets into contact with an electronic component must be grounded, and give a surface resistance powerful enough to allow for the assembled static electricity to flow harmlessly into the ground instead of into the electronic part.
The tools used are usually specialized, manufactured in small quantities by external suppliers and long lead times. On top of this, they are made of an expensive plastic which is injection moulded, with coal added. All of this leads to high costs per part, and still standing production lines or production departments.
ESD-safe environments with Aurora ESD-material
Additive manufacturing (AM) can contribute to higher ROI for producers of electronic equipment. Instead of waiting for suppliers to deliver jigs and fixtures, and spending huge sums of money, the production industry can now print their own 3D spare parts, and finished products. This can reduce lead times and costs.
Wematter has a broad range of materials for the SLS 3D printer Gravity. This includes Aurora ESD by Wematter. It is based on the proven Aurora PA11, with carbon fibers to create the conductive properties and to make the material more rigid. With Aurora ESD, the electronics manufacturer can produce strong, exact tools and fixtures for the industrial production line. That can reduce lead times and increase ROI.
Wematter only uses carbon additives of the highest quality and in the smallest amounts needed to achieve surface resistivity. This is why the Wematter ESD-safe material is unharmful and will not harm or mark the parts it touches. Our high-temperature powder enables the printing of ESD-safe fixtures that can be used in wave soldering, in reflow ovens, and other extreme temperature applications, without melting or deteriorating.
Download Aurora ESD product sheet
Swedish 3D printing company Wematter’s pioneering solution gives hospitals, offices, and workshops access to a comprehensive system. For the first time, employees can easily print components themselves with the same strength and quality as traditional technology. Wematter’s proprietary end-to-end solution enables customers to accelerate product development and in-house volume production. At the same time, the system creates the conditions for increased flexibility, lower risk and reduced manufacturing and development costs.