How to Dissipate Static with Polyurethanes
This may come to you as a shock, no pun intended, but polyurethanes can easily be customized to eliminate mechanical breakdowns that are caused by static buildup. In this post, we will discuss Electrostatic Discharge (ESD), the risks involved, and how to prevent these risks from ruining your product’s performance.
What is Electrostatic Discharge (ESD)?
Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) occurs when two electrically charged materials come in contact. This term is probably best known as a static or electrical shock. Common examples of ESD typically include the shock we receive from walking across a rug with rubber soled shoes and touching metal objects or brushing your hair dry with a plastic comb and generating frizz. While these events can be considered more of an annoyance, ESD can cause severe complications to your product's performance, leading to costly damages.
How to Dissipate Static Build Up
One of the best ways to avoid issues with ESD is to prevent static buildup. Oftentimes, higher friction between two dissimilar materials can result in static electricity. Issues arise when the static generated forces its way to ground, usually by damaging an electrical circuit or shocking a user. Due to their insulating properties, plastic products and components are prone to creating static buildup. To eliminate these risks, the static buildup should be safely brought to ground. Proper grounding can be accomplished by using conductive and semi-conductive materials in your products or components and designing a circuit to connect these materials to ground.
How Polyurethanes Can Play a Key Role
Semi-conductive polyurethanes are ideal for dissipating static build-up. The powerful combination of electrical conductivity and superior material properties can be used to manufacture products or components for various applications, including medical devices, conveyance systems, and food processing. Most conductive plastics available are made with high amounts of carbon black, which can lead to several unwanted problems. These types of material tend to leave marks, change in conductivity over time, and shed their conductive particles. Instead, MPC's Durethane® C semi-conductive polyurethanes employ our patented metal-salts technology to create superior materials without the use of carbon black. These materials can be incorporated into your design to safely prevent ESD. To learn more about polyurethane and conductivity, click here.
How to Use ESD in Your Design
The first steps in preventing ESD start with your design idea! Incorporating the right materials and mechanisms in your product design can significantly reduce the amount of static buildup. To avoid the issues brought by ESD, identify where static is being generated, and how you can create a circuit to bring this static to ground within the mechanism. Take advantage of the wide range of materials available in the market, including conductive polyurethanes, to design products and components that perform a task in the operation while at the same time dealing with unwanted static. Take one of our most recent customers as an example - this OEM was developing a new system to dispense napkins in quick service restaurants. The design team was challenged with creating a mechanism that could successfully fold very thin napkin paper, while at the same prevent any damage generated from the high amounts of static generated by the moving paper. Partnering with the polyurethane experts at MPC, the design team developed a semi-conductive roller that had the right grip to manipulate the paper, while at the same time bringing static buildup to ground through a stainless steel shaft. The OEM was able to launch their product on time and has estimated that their product can lower napkin waste in quick service restaurants by almost 70%!
Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) can cause severe damages to a product, if not grounded properly. To avoid these risks, select the right material and conductive components based on your product's function. To learn more about conductive polyurethanes, download our Durethane® C Conductive Technology Overview, here, or access our Durethane® C material data sheet below: