ESD Bags, ESD Equipment, ESD Safety

What you need to know about static shielding bags

ESD packaging containers, such as antistatic bags and static shielding bagsare some of the most important safety products used in manufacturing environments. Without these specialized containers, it would be virtually impossible to safely transport products and components from the factory floor to their final destination.

While antistatic bags and static shielding bags share a similar nomenclature, but don’t let Wikipedia fool you, they each serve a different function when it comes to transporting ESD-sensitive products.

All About Antistatic and Static Shielding Bags

ESD-focused packaging is always classified it to one of three levels:

  •      Intimate packaging

Packaging that can safely come into contact with static-sensitive components

  •      Proximity packaging

Packaging that can enclose (but not come into direct contact with) the product

  •      Secondary packaging

Packaging which can only be used for protection against physical damage during the shipping process

Static shielding bags are containers specifically designed to protect ESD-sensitive products from static electricity that may build up inside or outside the bag. The innermost layer of the bag is constructed from a static dissipative polyethylene surrounded by a layer of aluminum shielding, a material that allows you to safely touch ESD-sensitive products without the danger of static damage occuring. The intermediary layer is an aluminum sheet which offers additional protection against both static and physical damage. Finally, the outermost section of the bag is a polyester covering that helps dissipate external static charges.

Antistatic bags, on the other hand, are much simpler containers. These bags “will not generate or hold a triboelectric charge” and can be used to safely transport components into a static controlled environment without the threat of static discharge.

Essentially, static shielding bags provide both intimate and proximity packaging which makes them the only acceptable form of packaging for ESD-sensitive products. Conversely, antistatic bags only offer proximity and secondary protection and are only viable for transporting products and components that are not statically sensitive.

If that still sounds confusing don’t worry, here’s the simple explanation:

  • Static shielding bags prevent the buildup of static electricity and protect the contents from electrostatic damage.
  • Antistatic bags prevent the buildup of static electricity and do not carry a charge.

In some cases the use of moisture barrier bags is required in addition to antistatic and static shielding bags. Usually this takes place in areas where excessive moisture, precipitation, or humidity are common or expected.

Is One Better than the Other?

Each bag has its advantages. Static shielding bags are best to use in situations that require the protection of static sensitive components that are being moved into a static sensitive environment. Anti-static bags protect static sensitive components from damage due to static electricity.

Any product that is susceptible to damage from a static electricity discharge should be packaged in a static sensitive bag. These products include:

  •      Microchips
  •      Motherboards
  •      Graphic cards
  •      Other forms of printed circuit boards

Generally speaking, static sensitive bags should be used for ESD-sensitive products themselves, while antistatic bags should be reserved for storing and transporting anything that may come into contact with an ESD-sensitive product. Antistatic bags can be used to hold tools, safety equipment, manufacturing equipment, spare parts, and anything else that could potentially discharge onto a product. Either way, it’s important to protect your workers, manufacturing environment, supplies, and equipment by using bags that will minimize the risk of static discharge.