What is Electrostatic Discharge?

ESD Wrist Strap
Electrostatic discharge (also known as ESD) is a sudden burst of electricity created between two electrically charged components. ESD is caused by either static electricity or electrostatic induction, and occurs either when oppositely charged objects come together or experience a dielectric break. While ESD can create sparks, it oftentimes takes place without visual or audible signs, which can ultimately ruin electronic systems and mechanics.

Is Electrostatic Discharge Harmful?

Electrostatic discharge can be very harmful, creating damage to many electrical components. Because electrostatic discharge damage to components can be invisible, it may not be immediately apparent that an electrical surge has occurred, impacting the reliability and performance of the unit in question. Depending on the voltage, ESD damage can cause:

  • Electronic device failures
  • Magnetic media erasure
  • Fires or explosions near flammable materials

Microchips and other computer hardware are particularly sensitive to ESD due to their fragile nature, and require special protection during manufacturing and use.

How Do You Prevent Electrostatic Discharge?

When handling these kinds of electrical components, grounding is crucial. Technicians can choose to wear specific items to minimize static electricity such as an ESD wrist strap or conductive shoes, in addition to using anti-static bags to store components. But there are also several ways to ground oneself without the use of specific products. To help prevent ESD damage, you can:

  • Discharge your personal static charge by grounding yourself to your computer case first, touching the outside before you jump into internal projects.
  • Ensure all electrical components are on a common ground.
  • Work in an environment with humidity under 40%.

Work Smart and Avoid ESD Damage

Gateway Cable Company wants to help your electrical project go off without a hitch, and our extensive inventory of connectors, plugs, and cable accessories can help you work safely and prevent future issues. Our experienced team can guide you through a variety of technical projects, whether you’re looking to test a thermistor, terminate a coax cable, and more. Contact us for a custom quote on the electrical supplies you need.