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ESD Flooring for SAFE 3d Printing

 Installation, Testing and Certification of ESD Floors for 3D Printing

BeAM Machines Inc. located in Cincinnati Ohio is a pioneering leader of additive manufacturing based on Direct Energy Deposition technology. Their solution oriented machines are fast, efficient and state of the art. We recently installed our ElectraGuard Black Ice ESD Epoxy Floor paint at this location. This floor will soon handle top caliber 3D printers tailored specifically for some of the most technologically advanced clientele in the U.S.A. and World Wide. They chose to protect the investments with an active program to control the devastating effects of electrostatic discharges.

Additive Manufacturing (3D printing) can produce extremely small particulate as a byproduct of the process (some as small as 5 microns). Depending on the materials being deposited and under the correct conditions, a static discharge may release enough energy to cause the dust to become explosive. These explosions are well documented as causing harm to employees, OSHA fines and a noise that signals your day may be going downhill fast!

 United was chosen as the contractor due to our ability to Install, Test and Certify static control flooring for explosives.

Installing an ESD floor for flammable or explosive environments is much different than installing floors for use in electronic manufacturing. These floors require higher conductivity and often must meet very specific requirements for minimum and maximum resistance levels.

ESD Floors for 3D Printing

In addition to testing the resistance we test the floor's properties for static decay and static generation. Why? Static Generation is used to calculate the Energy released during an electrostatic discharge. Indisputable Proof Positive that your flooring is working to provide the utmost in static control performance.

BEFORE: Prior to us installing this floor the area had been coated with an electrically insulative Urethane. It's resistance value was well over 1.0E10 and the static generation was a whopping 506 volts positive and 793 volts negative (even in heel grounders).

Keep in mind that a person can't "feel" the static discharge until about 3,000 volts but in some explosive environments a 700 volt discharge may produce more than enough energy to cause a devastating event that can (in some cases) level an entire facility.

Once the install was completed the ElectraGuard ESD Epoxy was allowed to cure for 3 days. As the epoxy cures the matrix of conductive nanoparticulates tightens, the conductivity stabilizes and increases substantially and the flooring is ready for resistance testing and the application of the sealers.





Image: Static Voltage Generation While Walking

The sealers (ElectraThane and ElectraGlaze) slightly raise the properties thus allowing the flooring to meet a minimum required value (dependant on the operating voltage in the area) while keeping the maximum conductivity below 1 meg ohm.

At this stage the flooring was retested for static voltage generation per ANSI ESD S20.20-2021, 97.2 with the following results: Max Negative: 4.3 volts, Max Positive 6.5. Average Voltage: A mere 0.67 of a single volt!

Conclusion: Minimum Ignition Energy (MIE) has been clearly defined by the DOD and NFPA over a number of years. Example: Titanium with  a median diameter of 10 microns is rated to ignite with a 25 Milli Joules (mJ) burst of energy. The energy release (in Joules) was calculated using the voltage we achieved from testing this flooring and the typical capacitance of a person (as defined by the DOD at 300 pF).

Results: A technician walking in ESD shoes or ESD heel grounders on this ESD Flooring will theoretically only be able to discharge a mere 7.35 Nano (nJ) Joules of energy. To put this into perspective, many pyrotechnic compositions involving perchlorates and aluminum are so sensitive to static that as little as a 1 to 10 Millijoule (mJ) discharge can set off certain mixtures. Interesting factoid: A nanojoule (nJ) is equal to one billionth of a joule. 160 nanojoules is about the kinetic energy of a flying mosquito!

Long and Short - All ESD Floors and ESD Flooring Contractors are NOT created equal! There is more to an ESD floor than meets the eye. Choose your contractor and material wisely and avoid ruining a perfectly good day!

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