July/August 2018 • www.cemag.us 17 CLEAN APPLICATIONS
Choosing ESD Flooring that
ESD electrical properties
Meets EPA Standards
Selecting an ESD flooring solution for your cleanroom or lab is about more than reducing static electricity. There are several variables at play — specifically, operational and installa-
tion challenges as well as ESD electrical properties.
This article will address all three by asking the
questions you should be asking when selecting your
What is the most critical chip sensitivity?
You want to control the static buildup in the
environment based on the most sensitive chip
in the electronic devices of your cleanroom or
lab equipment. Some chips can be damaged at
200 volts, others at 100 volts. Some of the newer,
smaller chips can be damaged with as little as
30 volts. Your ESD management program would
start with your most sensitive chip, which would
drive the level at which you want to maintain
the static in the environment. Different flooring
options will reduce the charges on a person to
different levels. Preferably, you want to select tiles
that keep static electricity generation on a person
below 30 volts.
What standards are you trying to adhere to?
There are industry-accepted standards that are
built around sensitivity. The generally accepted
standard is S20.20, which is designed around 100
volts. You can use that as your standard, as it’s
typical for most electronics manufacturers. Many
cleanrooms use the S20.20 standard.
Based on the above, do you need conductive or dissi-
If your work involves an ultra-sensitive chip, in
general, you should go with conductive. If not,
dissipative will suffice. This is something we help
customers determine as part of our survey/screen-ing. Some customers will demand a specific rating.
Some companies have an internal ESD protocol
they must follow and want conductive, even though
the actual use may not require it.
Is humidity controlled in the area? If not, what range
will it vary within? (This affects the ESD properties of
Some flooring products are affected by humidity
and some are not. If you have a very sensitive chip
and don’t control humidity, things could get very
dry and the flooring may lose its ability to conduct
static charges to the ground. That’s why there are
certain products you should not use in those types
of situations. We’ve seen companies use products
that are sensitive to humidity and then start pointing fingers when the product doesn’t work.
Do you require the floor to be portable for reconfigura-
tions or future moves?
Some types of facilities require flooring to be portable. Expansions, downsizing, or relocation to a new
facility are just some of the reasons why companies
want a flooring they can move. When you choose
a glue-down option for flooring, you sacrifice por-tability. Glued down tiles can’t and shouldn’t be
removed and used again. There are ESD flooring
products out there that utilize an interlocking system so flooring can be moved, should your lab or
cleanroom need to be moved to another location.
What are the VOC and particulate requirements of the
Some floors are better for cleanrooms than others. Epoxies and vinyls work well in cleanrooms.
Cleanrooms will have standards to which they
have to adhere — that’s something the flooring
dealer should review with customers. For example, some products generate particulates when
scrubbed. This requires a sealant to be applied to
prevent that from happening. Again, this should
be part of a review you conduct with the flooring
company to ensure the flooring meets the requirements of the cleanroom properties.
Do you require any type of chemical resistance?
As a lab or cleanroom, it’s possible your facility might employ chemicals that may impact
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