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How Do I Prevent Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) From Ruining my Parts?


If you have already read our related CircuitBread article on this subject, you know that ESD is the sudden release of static electricity charges from one object, or person, to another object or person as it seeks to reach ground. These energy pulses are extremely fast, and even low-power ones of 100V or less can cause significant damage to your electronic components.

Whether you’re just learning about electronics, or you’re updating your skills here at the CircuitBread community, experience teaches that ESD can be much more than an annoying shock on a dry day. It’s good to know that help is readily available in many different forms.

Modern products, strategies, and systems allow for ESD-safe handling of susceptible components or circuit boards at all design and supply chain levels. These solutions can effectively prevent or mitigate ESD problems that occur from initial breadboarding through manufacturing, shipping, and maintenance or repair. The one universal caveat is that static electrical charges can arise anywhere and at any time. If ESD solution products and strategies are not strictly and continuously employed, problems can easily crop up.

Simple Solutions for Preventing ESD

Even if you’re just soldering some boards at home to test your skills, or you’re running a small production line, you need to manage ESD. The cost of effective ESD control solutions can range from modest to significant, depending on your needs. Some of the most effective, simple, and easy-to-implement ESD solutions for you to adopt can include:

  • Wrist straps, floor and workbench mats that channel charges from equipment or people to ground
  • ESD-resistant clothing, shoes, booties and gloves to resist static build-up on workers or anyone in contact with sensitive devices
  • Static-proof bags and containers for transporting components or boards from station to station
ESD workstation

Moderate Solutions to Prevent ESD

For small to medium-sized production, test, or repair operations, ESD control can take a more formal approach, using more permanent and costlier solutions. These include:

  • Compliant desks or workstations for assembly operations
  • Ionization air guns and blowers to locally remove static charges from surfaces or components
  • Shielded boxes, foam sheets, bubble wrap, plastic bags and tape dispensers for shipping parts or boards

System-Wide Solutions to Prevent ESD

Advancing to a larger workplace, or multiple site manufacturing or repair situation with more frequent foot traffic may require the use of products or systems that can be effective 24/7, but will require a larger investment of both time and budget. Some of these solutions are:

  • Ionizers for room-sized static control
  • Static-resistant or conductive floor tiles or carpet to manage static build-up across the entire work area
  • Conductive paints and coatings to continuously prevent harmful static build-up
  • Chemicals and treatments for surface cleaning to reduce static production
  • Monitors and testers to assess ESD threats locally or facility-wide

A Word About Protocols

It makes sense that any products you choose to help manage the effects of ESD will do you no good if you, and anyone else who may come in contact with sensitive components, do not use them 100% of the time. That’s why your first challenge may be to develop a comprehensive ESD plan to match your own workplace situation, and engage management back-up to put it in place and keep it in place.

For help in this area, it may be useful to tap into the experience of our professional friends at OnlineComponents.com. To develop an ESD plan unique to your needs, timeline, and budget, consider reviewing their insightful blog on ESD prevention strategies. You can also reach them directly at www.OnlineComponents.com for personalized guidance.


ESD is serious business when it comes to sensitive electronic components and boards. With current processor prices in the hundreds of dollars, one quick zap can turn a hardware asset into a piece of scrap. As we’ve mentioned, there are numerous products and systems available to help, from the simple wrist strap to a complicated air treatment system. Pick and choose what you need, but don’t wait for that “spark” to get you motivated.

Authored By

Josh Bishop

Interested in embedded systems, hiking, cooking, and reading, Josh got his bachelor's degree in Electrical Engineering from Boise State University. After a few years as a CEC Officer (Seabee) in the US Navy, Josh separated and eventually started working on CircuitBread with a bunch of awesome people. Josh currently lives in southern Idaho with his wife and four kids.

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