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Remember the time when Steve Wozniak taught us about ESD?

In 1985 Apple produced a service video that explained the importance of ESD control when servicing an Apple II. Steve Wozniak, a co-founder of Apple computers, was featured in the 26 minute video explaining the handling of ESD susceptible devices.  Other than the fact that ESD components are smaller and more sensitive than ever (see the ESDA Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Technology Roadmap – Revised May 2016), the same principles laid out in the 1985 video hold true today.  Take a step back in time:

How to Define ESD Protective Packaging Requirements for ESD Sensitive Items

A company with an ANSI/ESD S20.20 ESD control program needs to document the program and define ESD protective packaging for ESD sensitive (ESDS) items. Packaging is to be defined for all material movement within the EPA and for outside the EPA. Best practice is to define the required packaging or material handling item on a product’s bill of materials. The ESD packaging is as important as a component part.

Customer contract packaging can take precedence, but otherwise “the organization shall define ESD protective packaging requirements, both inside and outside the EPA per ANSI/ESD S541.” [ANSI/ESD S20.20 section 8.4]

The ESD Association sells most of their documents. However, both ANSI/ESD S20.20 and ANSI/ESD S541 are available as complimentary downloads from

The fundamentals of ESD control include grounding all conductors in the EPA. ESD packaging will have special material composition to lower the resistance so that when grounded, electrostatic charges will be removed to ground.

This is the Summary of ESD Protective Properties ANSI/ESD S541 Table 2:

Protection Property
Low charging (antistatic) Materials that have reduced amounts of charge accumulation as compared with standard packaging materials.
Dissipative or Conductive Resistance Provides an electrical path for charge to dissipate from the package.
Discharge Shielding Protects packaged items from the effects of static discharge that are external to the package.

ANSI/ESD Table 3 lists Test Methods for Electrostatic Protective Packaging:

Material Property Test Method Method Description Limits
Low Charging (Antistatic) ESD ADV11.2 Tribocharging of tubes, planar materials, bags, unit packs (vibration) User defined
Conductive ANSI/ESD STM11.11 Surface resistance of planar materials < 104 ohms
ANSI/ESD STM11.12 Volume resistance of planar materials < 104 ohms
Dissipative ANSI/ESD STM11.11 Surface resistance of planar materials > 104 to < 1011 ohms
ANSI/ESD STM11.12 Volume resistance of planar materials > 104 to < 1011 ohms
ANSI/ESD STM11.13 Surface resistance 2-point electrode > 104 to < 1011 ohms
Shielding ANSI/ESD STM11.31 ESD Shielding of Bags < 50 nanojoules

Note that the unit of measurement for conductive and for dissipative is surface or volume resistance in ohms; not resistivity.

Statshield® bag film construction includes a metalized shielding layer. Shielding bags are designed to dissipate electrostatic charges over their surface, protecting ESDS contents from electrostatic fields and from ElectroStatic Discharge (ESD). Their surface resistance is dissipative, which is recommended when packaging in contact with the ESDS; per ANSI/ESD S541 section A.3 “Dissipative Material for Intimate Contact, to avoid rapid discharge to sensitive items, dissipative materials should be used as the layer of packaging that contacts the item.”

This is also true for enclosed Protektive Pak impregnated dissipative corrugated containers, either closed or with lid in place. The impregnated corrugated has a buried shielding layer that provides the shielding ESD control property so that ESD sensitive items can be stored or transported outside an ESD protected area.

Protektive Pak offers a number of ESD control packaging solutions, including  Protektive Pak® Impregnated Dissipative Corrugated Products, Statshield Shielding Bags, Moisture Barrier Bags, Pink Poly Bags, and Labels for use within an ESD protected area (EPA) and for shipping outside an EPA. Protektive Pak products are designed to meet ANSI/ESD S20.20 and the ESD Association Packaging standard ANSI/ESD S541; they provide a great value balancing cost and durability.


ANSI/ESD S541 for the Protection of Electrostatic Discharge Susceptible Items Packaging Materials for ESD Sensitive Items


Third Party Testing Proves Protektive Pak’s Impregnated Corrugated Material is Superior

Protektive Pak’s Dissipative Impregnated Corrugated material features a unique characteristic, a buried shielding layer. This provides a better value because unlike dissipative or conductive painted material, the buried shielding layer will not rub/scratch off or lose its ESD properties. This translates into a superior, longer lasting ESD safe package.

Third party testing has been performed on Protektive Pak’s Impregnated Corrugated material demonstrating that the buried shielding layer in our corrugated material provides a better value than dissipative or conductive coated (or painted) material.


  • Protektive Pak impregnated corrugated material has a buried shielding layer
  • Protektive Pak impregnated corrugated material equals or exceeds the discharge shielding capabilities of a coated box
  • Protektive Pak impregnated corrugated material has discharge shielding capabilities equal to a metal-out shielding bag
  •  Protektive Pak Dissipative Corrugated Material meets the ANSI/ESD S541 recommendation, avoiding rapid discharge when contacting ESD sensitive items –
    conductive coated boxes DO NOT!

Protektive Pak Dissipative Impregnated Corrugated Material meets ANSI/ESD S20.20 and Packaging standard ANSI/ESD S541 tested per ANSI/ESD STM11.11 and modified ANSI/ESD STM11.31

For complete third party test results, click HERE.

Watch our Material Test video:

Watch the Lenovo Service Video on ESD

Lenovo Service posted a video on their youtube site called “Understanding Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) for Technicians.” We encourage you to take a look.

The video is very informative and does a good job of covering the basics of ESD control when working with ESD susceptible devices or components. The basic practices of controlling ESD when handling ESD susceptible items are pretty straight forward.

  • Establish and control access to an ESD Protected Area. It can be one bench or a whole facility (or a field service kit that a Lenovo Service person might use)
  • Ground all conductors including operators.
  • Use a dissipative grounded surface for ESD susceptible products to be placed on if needed.
  • Remove all non-process essential insulators from the ESD Protected Area. Use ionization to control charges on process essential insulators.
  • If an ESD susceptible item needs to be removed from the ESD Protected Area, place it in a shielding bag or storage container that forms a faraday cage.

Do Protektive Pak In-Plant Handlers Need to Have Lids on While ESD Sensitive Items are in Them?


 Outside the ESD protected area (EPA), the Protektive Pak lids need to be in place to provide the electrostatic discharge shielding ESD control property which is required by the Packaging standard ANSI/ESD S541. Per section 6.2 Outside an EPA “Transportation of sensitive products outside of an EPA shall require packaging that provides: 1. Low charge generation. 2. Dissipative or conductive materials for intimate contact. 3. A structure that provides electrostatic discharge shielding.”

Inside the EPA, it would still be a good idea to have the lid in place, but it is not a requirement. The Protektive Pak impregnated corrugated has a buried shielding layer. In shielding, we utilize the fact that electrostatic charges and discharges take the path of least resistance. The charge will be either positive or negative; otherwise the charge would balance out and be no charge.

Like charges repel and so the electrostatic charge will reside on the outer conductive surface.


A Faraday Cage effect can protect ESDS contents in a container with a shielding layer (this is what a shielding bag has). This Faraday Cage effect protects people in real life when a lightning bolt strikes an airplane or automobile with the charge residing on the outer metal fuselage or car body.

The Faraday cage effect causes charges to be conducted around the outside the surface of the conductor. Since like charges repel, charges will rest on the exterior.

To complete the enclosure, make sure to place lids on boxes or containers, and close shielding bags. Packaging with holes, tears, or gaps should not be used as the contents may be able to extend outside the enclosure and lose their shielding as well as mechanical protection.

To ask an ESD question Click Here

To view In-Plant Handlers Click Here

What is the Real Cost of ESD Damage?

 Article written by Terry Welsher, courtesy of InCompliance Magazine 4Cbw

What percentage of electronic failures are latent defects? What’s the cost to industry? According to the ESD Association “It is relatively easy with the proper equipment to confirm that a device has experienced catastrophic failure. Basic performance tests will substantiate device damage. However, latent defects are extremely difficult to prove or detect using current technology, especially after the device is assembled into a finished product.” So there is the view that, by definition, it is impossible to quantify the amount of latent damage. However, for most companies, the cost of customer returns and field service warranty expense greatly exceeds in-house scrap & re-work expense.

Per the ESD Association: “The age of electronics brought with it new problems associated with static electricity and electrostatic discharge. And, as electronic devices became faster and smaller, their sensitivity to ESD increased. Today, ESD impacts productivity and product reliability in virtually every aspect of today’s electronics environment. Industry experts have estimated average product losses due to static to range [up to] 33%. Others estimate the actual cost of ESD damage to the electronics industry as running into the billions of dollars annually.”

Some major companies report that 25% of all identified electronic part failure is due to ESD. As an ESD Control Program improves, a resulting decrease in unidentified field failures and ”no problem found” returns should occur. Reducing latent defect field failures is what allows companies to report return on investments of 10:1 from their ESD Control Programs.

To continue reading The “Real” Cost of ESD Damage Click Here.

Practical Advice for Implementing ESD Control Periodic Checks

ESD Control Program Periodic Verification
Fred Tenzer and Gene Felder, Desco Industries, Inc.

EPA Room

Want to accomplish something important? A familiar formula is write a plan, select the specifications, and then periodically test to verify that the plan is being implemented according to the test results. This is basically the requirements of an ESD control program, per the ESD Association standard, ANSI/ESD S20.20. This important standard, entitled Development of an Electrostatic Discharge Control Program, covers the requirements necessary to design, establish, implement, and maintain an ESD control program to protect electrical or electronic parts, assemblies and equipment susceptible to ESD damage.

S20.20 is a process document, and provides ESD control plan guidance; one of its requirements is having a “compliance verification plan” as a component of the ESD control plan. Per S20.20, paragraph 6.1.3., Compliance Verification Plan:

“A Compliance Verification Plan shall be established to ensure the organization’s compliance with the requirements of the Plan. Formal audits or certifications shall be conducted in accordance with a Compliance Verification Plan that identifies the requirements to be verified, and the frequency at which those verifications must occur. Test equipment shall be selected to make measurements of appropriate properties of the technical requirements that are incorporated into the ESD program plan.”

To view more information on ESD Control Program Periodic Verification CLICK HERE

How to Properly Use An ESD Shielding Bag

A basic principle of ESD control in a manufacturing environment is that ESD susceptible items should only be removed from ESD protective packaging when they are in an ESD protected area (EPA). Most EPAs are made up of “Islands” of control; the packaging / materials handling system must provide proper protection for ESD susceptible items during transport and storage outside those “islands” of control. When moving ESD susceptible items outside an EPA, it is necessary for the product to be packaged in closed ESD Shielding Packaging.


Tip# 1 – Not a Worksurface

Do not use a shielding bag as an ESD worksurface. Although a shielding bag is safe to use around ESD susceptible products, it is not intended to be a worksurface for product. It should be set aside or discarded after removing the product from the bag.


Tip# 2 – No Potholders or Tacos


Do not use a shielding bag as an “ESD potholder” or “ESD taco.” This type of use offers no ESD protection to the product.

Tip# 3 – Enclose Product


Shielding bags should be large enough to enclose the entire product and closed with a label or zipper style bag. 

Tip# 4 – Remove Charges


Place closed bag on an ESD worksurface before removing product to remove any charge that might have accumulated on the surface of the bag.

Tip# 5 – Don’t Over-Use


Re‐using shielding bags is acceptable so long as there is no damage to the shielding layer. Bags with holes, tears, or excessive wrinkles should be discarded.

So, are you using your ESD bags correctly?

If you have questions regarding shielding bags or ESD control, please click HERE.

Click for more information on Metal-In Shielding Bags.


ESD Control – Other Considerations

Application Photo of Surface Resistance Test Kit

A significant increase in the discipline of implementing the fundamentals of ESD control noted in ANSI/ESD S20.20 Foreword, calls for:

  • Ground all conductors in the EPA including people
  • Remove all insulators from the EPA or use ionizers for process necessary insulators
  • Package ESD sensitive items going outside the EPA in packaging that provides electrostatic discharge shielding

We encourage developing a hatred for insulators. The alternatives are:

    Remove the insulative item from the EPA

  • Substitute the item with an ESD protective version (such as tape, document holders, material handling containers, plastic bottles, etc.)
  • Periodically treat insulative surface with a topical antistat
  • Neutralize electrostatic charges using ionization

Other ESD Control Items
Other EPA ESD control items to add to the ESD control program might include shelving, mobile equipment (carts), gloves, and/or seating.

Improve Compliance Verification Plan

  • Consider greater frequency of internal audits per ESD TR53
  • Use of computer data collection system for wrist straps and footwear testing, continuous monitors, and ionizers
  • Use of ground continuous monitors for worksurfaces and other ESD elements
  • Test ionizers more frequently, consider self monitoring ionizers, consider computer based data collection
  • Increased testing using static field meter to verify that automated processes (like auto insertion, tape and reel, etc) are not generating charges above acceptable limits.

Application Photo of Volt Meter and Software in Factory STM97.2 Testing Voltage Charge on Person (Photograph courtesy of TREK, INC.)

Improve Training

  • ESD awareness training for all in the EPA or who may come into the EPA including suppliers
  • Testing to verify comprehension and training adequacy
  • Training on the proper use of test equipment
  • Training on proper compliance verification test procedures

Application Photo CD-ROM ESD Training

Just to maintain a company’s current level of quality and reliability may require a substantial improvement in a company’s ESD control program. Now is the time for improvement as ESD sensitivity withstand voltages continue to get lower and companies may soon be handling class 0A HBM items. To combat HBM failures improved personnel grounding is required. For example, heel grounders should be replaced with full coverage foot grounders. However, most failures are CDM. To combat CDM failures, ionization should be added or improved, and conductive surfaces should be covered with dissipative material. In general, disciple should be enhanced implementing ESD control fundamentals, compliance verification testing should be increased, and training should be improved.

From published article “Now is the Time for ESD Control Programs to be Improved” by Fred Tenzer and Gene Felder. See full article at InCompliance Magazine- September 2012

What’s Happening to Electronics Device ESD Sensitivity

Factory ESD control is expected to play an ever-increasing critical role as the industry is flooded with even more HBM (Human Body Model) and CDM (Charged Device Model) sensitive

ElectroStatic Discharge (ESD) is the hidden enemy within your factory. You cannot feel or see most ESD events but they can cause electronic components to fail or cause mysterious and annoying problems. There are two types of ESD damage: 1) catastrophic failures, and 2) latent defects. By definition, normal quality control inspections are able to identify catastrophic failures, but are not able to detect latent defects.

In general, the ESD susceptibility of modern electronics are more sensitive to ElectroStatic Discharge; that is the withstand voltages are lower. This is due to the drive for miniaturization and with electronic devices operating faster. Thus the semiconductor circuitry is getting smaller. What’s happening currently? The width of electronic device structures continues to get smaller. Intel began selling its 32nm processors in 2010 that would be 0.032 micrometer equal to 0.000032 millimeter or 0.00000128 inch.

See, the ESD Association’s latest White Paper “Electrostatic Discharge (ESD) Technology Roadmap” Revised April 2010” forecasts increased ESD sensitivities continuing the recent “trend, the ICs became even more sensitive to ESD events in the years between 2005 and 2009. Therefore, the prevailing trend is circuit performance at the expense of ESD protection levels.” The White Paper’s conclusions include:

  • With devices becoming more sensitive through 2010-2015 and beyond, it is imperative that companies begin to scrutinize the ESD capabilities of their handling processes. Factory ESD control is expected to play an ever-increasing critical role as the industry is flooded with even more HBM (Human Body Model) and CDM (Charged Device Model) sensitive designs. For people handling ESD sensitive devices, personnel grounding systems must be designed to limit body voltages to less than 100 volts.
  • To protect against metal-to-device discharges, all conductive elements that contact ESD sensitive devices must be grounded.
  • To limit the possibilities of a field induced CDM ESD event, users of ESD sensitive devices should ensure that the maximum voltage induced on their devices is kept below 50 volts.
  • To limit CDM ESD events, device pins should be contacted with static-dissipative material instead of metal wherever possible.

See May 2010 article by Dr. Terry L. Welsher The “Real” Cost of ESD Damage which includes “Recent data and experience reported by several companies and laboratories now suggest that many failures previously classified as EOS [Electrical Overstress] may instead be the result of ESD failures due to Charged Board Events (CBE). Some companies have estimated that about 50% of failures originally designated as EOS were actually CBE or CDE [Charged Device Events].”

ANSI/ESD S20.20, the ESD Association document covering the development of an ESD control program, lists numerous ESD Protected Area (EPA) ESD control items. Each company can pick and choose which ones are appropriate for their program. The selection of specific ESD control procedures or materials is at the option of the ESD Control Program Plan preparer and should be based on risk assessment and the established electrostatic discharge sensitivities of parts, assemblies, and equipment.” [ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007 Annex B] “An EPA [ESD protected area] shall be established wherever ESDS [ESD Sensitive] products are handled. However, there are many different ways to establish ESD controls within an EPA. Table 3 lists some optional ESD control items which can be used to control static electricity. [ANSI/ESD S20.20-2007 section 8.3 ESD Protected Areas (EPAs)]

There are companies with good ESD control programs who are pleased with their quality and reliability results. But to maintain that level, they would be wise to consider ESD control program improvements. Now might be a good time to do that.

From published article “Now is the Time for ESD Control Programs to be Improved” by Fred Tenzer and Gene Felder. See full article at InCompliance Magazine– September 2012