Antistatic bags are specialized plastic bags that minimize the risk of electrostatic discharge damage. They protect sensitive electronic components while in storage or transit. These bags are used in many different applications.
Material and Features
According to Rutan Poly Industries, Inc., antistatic bags are typically made of plastic materials such as polyethylene terephthalate (PET). The material can come in many different configurations based on their use.
Antistatic bags typically take the form of a thin plastic film, but some manufacturers make them available as bubble wrap or foam to add another layer of protection. They feature a grid of metal film, which serves to dissipate any buildup of static charge. The silvery film, which is usually composed of aluminum, helps reroute any electrical charges back into the ground, preventing them from affecting the components within. The effect is very similar to a Faraday cage in that it allows electrical charges to travel around an object rather than through it.
Other types of bags also prevent the formation of moisture, adding an additional dry barrier.
Uses of Antistatic Bags
Antistatic bags store and protect electrical components, preventing damage from electrostatic discharge (ESD). ESD is the sudden transfer of electricity between two objects. Static electricity usually builds up because of friction, but some items are more prone to electrical charges than others.
Some components, especially computer components, can be severely damaged by ESD. Items such as sound cards, hard drives, or network cards are sensitive to static shock. The use of polyethylene antistatic bags keeps the charges away from the items.
Antistatic bags also see a lot of use in environments such as hospitals and aircraft carriers. The material prevents the occurrence of sparks, which cause equipment failure and pose a fire hazard. Sparks produced in an oxygen rich environment are extremely hazardous.
Antistatic bags must be manufactured in strict compliance with industry standards. To be effective, they must be able to prevent the formation of ESD completely.