Avoid ESD Discharge when Building PCB Boards

PCB boards are one of the most common ways to create circuits. They are generally comprised of multiple layers that need to be made separately. These individual layers are incredibly fragile, especially during the building process. The PCB multilayer boards are used universally, but they are also susceptible to damage in the wrong environments. As the panels are created, it is imperative to keep them clean and safe from static. Here are some tips to keep PCB boards from being damaged while under construction.

ESD or Electrostatic discharge occurs when there are negative or positive charges that can affect the integrity of a circuit board. Areas where PCBS are crafted require certain precautions to ensure that the circuits come out undamaged and prepared for use.

1. Ensure that Boards are Clean

The presence of dust can be damaging to PCB boards if not cleaned before use. The dust can reduce efficiency by blocking the necessary flow of air and cause overheating. An easy way to protect against the collection of dust on individual layers is to keep them on a covered cart during construction. This will keep debris from entering the layers as they are constructed. 

Avoid Static

Even a mild static shock caused by carpet or dust can interfere with the structure of the circuit. Any area where circuits are created should be free from carpet and other conductive material. When storing these individual circuit boards, they must be held on trays designed of non-conductive materials. ESD, or electrostatic discharge, is a tiny spark of energy like a small lightning bolt. This charge can cause latent damage to PCB units. Massive amounts of irreversible damage can occur when large quantities of ESD flow through circuits. For additional security, invest in carts that have static-avoiding casters. It is also beneficial to invest in a cart cover to create an added barrier of protection. 

3. Ensure that Proper Processes are in Place

One of the best ways to ensure the safety of circuits is to ensure that staff is fully prepared to interact with the circuits without damaging them. All companies should provide training for staff during every aspect of the PCB construction. All personnel should be required to wear anti-static overalls, shoes, caps, and wrist bands. Work areas should also have an adequate amount of space between different work areas to limit contamination between different workstations.

4. Properly Set-up/ Maintain Work areas

Workbenches need to be grounded to ensure that static is limited as circuit boards are under construction. All work areas should also have anti-static mats on top to ensure the work area on top of the workbenches is safe to work on. Every site should also include an electrical earthing system. These systems include grounding wires and wrist bands that help to limit any static discharge. 

For products designed to handle ESD discharge, refer to the  PCB carts page on Metro.com.