Causes of static electricity in manufacturing
Static Electricity unlike it's more well known current driven counterparts is a form of electricity at rest caused by an imbalance at a molecular level within a material. The peculiar characteristics of static electricity however create a series of issues which cost industry significant sums of money and time every year. In order to better understand how to remove static electricity or at least better control static on a process it is important to understand what it is that causes of static electricity to occur.
Static electricity is generated when a weakly bound (negatively charged) electron is displaced causing an overall imbalance in the charge of a molecule. This commonly occurs on relatively non conductive insulators such as paper, plastics, ceramics and glass. See the triboelectric series table.
The five main causes of static electricity in manufacturing are:
- Contact and separation between two materials
- Rapid heat change
- Cutting processes
- Exposure to UV
- Electrostatic Induction
Each of these creates a series of unique challenges in order to reduce or eliminate static. In some cases the cause can also be the solution but in many instances it is necessary to incorporate a static eliminator into the process. It is important to note that incorrectly placed static eliminators or the wrong type of static eliminator can in some cases contribute to the problem and in all but the best cases simply do nothing.