State-of-the-art technology that is not protected from static electricity can be easily compromised. In fact, highly advanced, sensitive circuitry can be destroyed with the touch of a statically charged finger.
Someone walking briskly across a floor can generate as much as 3,000 volts of electricity. However, many components can be destroyed with a much smaller 300-volt discharge. The generation of voltage as a person moves across a floor building up a negative charge is called triboelectric charging. The charge increases with movement if a person is not insulated against the charge.
This electro-static discharge carried by someone could cause irrevocable damage for workplaces that depend on delicate computer equipment such as data warehouses, R&D sites, clean rooms and laboratories. It could also lead to serious yearly losses in damaged goods and broken equipment, particularly for the electronics manufacturing industry.
In other industries – such as munitions manufacturing, hyperbaric chambers, oil and gas facilities and military installations – electro-static discharge could lead to more serious implications. In these workplaces, a discharge could act as a source of ignition.
To prevent this from happening, the installation of anti-static floors removes any build-up of charge generated by a person and routes the charge to an appropriate earthing point.
Anti-static floors contain specialist conductive materials that remove any charge built up in a person when their foot comes in contact with the floor’s coating. The charge is then removed through the floor and away from any sensitive working equipment or environment. The charge then hits a carbon-filled conductive primer and moves into copper tape beneath the floor’s coating, which is attached to a safe earthing point.
A vital aspect of anti-static flooring is the earthing point to dissipate an electro-static discharge. Earthing points can vary from a highly conductive metal rod embedded in the slab of a building or using a building's steel beams or plug socket. The general rule of thumb is to have one earthing point for every 200 square meters of flooring.
Anti-static flooring is categorised based on how quickly electricity travels through the surfaces, which can be measured in ohms. Conductive surfaces have the least resistance, while dissipative surfaces allow electricity to move through them at a controlled speed. Insulative surfaces are the most resistant floors. Testing needs to be done to determine if a given floor can be categorised as conductive, dissipative or insulative.
There are many other factors at play to ensure a floor’s finish meets a site’s anti-static needs. To gain a better understanding of how these factors interact with each other, get in touch with Flowcrete’s expert team today.