Electrostatic Discharge Testing / ESD Testing

Electrostatic Discharge Testing / ESD Testing

Electrostatic discharge testing, also known as ESD testing is an essential test for many products. ESD is the sudden transfer of electricity between to electrically charged objects. This electrostatic transfer can be caused by contact, dielectric breakdown or an electrical short.

What are the hazards of ESD?

ESD is a very common occurrence. The impact of electrostatic discharge can be significant. Unfortunately, that is the case whether the ESD level is so slight that is undetectable by hearing or sight or as spectacular as electrical sparks or lightning. Electrostatic discharge can cause a number of problems. These include but are not limited to mechanical failures, coal dust explosions, fuel vapor explosions and bodily injury. The mechanical failures caused by ESD can include contact spiking, junction damage, metal penetration and gate oxide damage.

What is ESD testing?

ESD testing is an electromagnetic compatibility test (EMC test). ESD testing simulates various electrostatic impacts that equipment might experience either during transit or operation. An electrostatic discharge test determines whether a product is in compliance with its ESD protective area and procedures.

ESD can be transferred through the air or contact. The most common test of ESD is called human body method. The test simulates the effect on an electronic component of a human discharging electrical energy onto it. This energy is a static buildup.

There are two ESD test methods. One is the air method and the other is the contact method. The air method ESD testing involves moving a charged generator or discharge object such as an ESD gun towards the device being tested. There are many variables that can impact ESD testing. These include humidity, the speed of the discharge object towards the test device and temperature. ESD events are much more common in low temperature and low humidity environments.

The contact method ESD testing helps eliminates the impact of environmental effects such as temperature and humidity. This test method involves an ESD generator being in direct contact with the device to be tested. This contact is in place throughout the entire test. While this test method is generally consistent across environmental conditions, contact ESD rarely occurs naturally.

An ESD test confirms that the equipment correctly operates per the test requirement and the manufacturer’s operating procedures. ESD testing is generally part of a larger EMC test plan for product certification compliance.

What is ESD immunity?

ESD immunity and ESD protection should be considered during the design of a product. During this phase, electronics manufacturers must identify ESD-reducing measures. They should also determine when their products are either susceptible to ESD or likely to create ESD. These measures can include establishing electrostatic protective areas that are free of static, controlling humidity and using measures to eliminate charging such as avoiding highly charging materials. Another option is taking steps to remove static such as grounding human workers or requiring antistatic devices.

Keystone Compliance is an ESD test lab with significant experience and knowledge in providing the expert electrostatic discharge testing. Contact us today to learn how we can help you meet your ESD testing requirements.

Electrostatic Discharge Test Specifications: