Question Any Reason to Buy ESD-Safe Tools?

Crag_Hack

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Hi I have quick question.

I recently noticed here when looking for a torque screwdriver that apparently there are ESD-safe versions of the tool. Are ESD-safe tools like this a gimmick or are they actually worth purchasing? I currently use a Transforming Technologies CM410 anti-static workstation monitor so I'm hardcore grounded.

If there actually is a danger of ESD buildup on the tool wouldn't touching it drain the static charge since I'm grounded?

Thanks!
 

kanewolf

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Hi I have quick question.

I recently noticed here when looking for a torque screwdriver that apparently there are ESD-safe versions of the tool. Are ESD-safe tools like this a gimmick or are they actually worth purchasing? I currently use a Transforming Technologies CM410 anti-static workstation monitor so I'm hardcore grounded.

If there actually is a danger of ESD buildup on the tool wouldn't touching it drain the static charge since I'm grounded?

Thanks!
If you already have a continuous ground monitor, but are still concerned, you might want to get an ion generating fan -- https://www.amazon.com/Bench-top-Ionizing-Ionized-Anti-Static-ionizer/dp/B07VLTDJHB
You should also have a valid hygrometer to validate that you have minimum humidity.
 

Crag_Hack

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Thanks guys :) About what I thought.

@kanewolf Are you being facetious? lol

Wouldn't you have to rub the screwdriver against a wool surface a bunch to build up a charge on it anyways? Physics is a little hazy to me...

Did find this relevant post. Sounds like just touching metal end would drain any charge that's built up there if one really cared or if it mattered.
 
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kanewolf

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Thanks guys :) About what I thought.

@kanewolf Are you being facetious? lol

Wouldn't you have to rub the screwdriver against a wool surface a bunch to build up a charge on it anyways? Physics is a little hazy to me...

Did find this relevant post. Sounds like just touching metal end would drain any charge that's built up there if one really cared or if it mattered.
I am absolutely serious. This is how it is done in commercial ESD stations. This is what we do at work.
 

Crag_Hack

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@kanewolf Thanks but that's a little excessive for me. I could see myself getting ESD-safe tools though if there's any merit to their usefulness.

@Ralston18 @kanewolf Do these ESD safe tools actually do anything? Is there any risk of static charge building up on a non-ESD-safe tool, and if so don't these ESD-safe tools drain that charge through you while you're grounded?
Also out of curiosity wouldn't you have to rub the tool against wool or something to build a charge? Any wouldn't just touching the metal part while you're grounded drain the charge?

Thanks!
 

Ralston18

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The charge is indeed created by "rubbing".

Classic walking across a rug in certain slippers/shoes. Depending on the materials, electrons are rubbed off of one material and accumulated on the other.

The more electrons rubbed off, the greater the charge that builds up.

Because electrons really do not like each other very much every one of them is looking for way to escape. A metal path is great, air not so much but better if dry.

But sooner or later a bunch of them will take off and go straight for the easiest getaway path they can find (Likely through the air to a door knob in common experience.) Anything along that path will heatup due to the scramble. People in that path get shocked. Equipment can get destroyed.

Anti static environments serve two purposes: first, not to let electrons get rubbed off of things (or otherwise build up somewhere) and, second, if a build up does occur then gives those electrons a safe, easy way to leave.

Rubbing frees electrons so you do want to avoid doing so. The number of electrons freed does depend on materials and force used. And touching metals will free some of the electrons from the charged buildup but without a full path to earth/ground, the metal just gets and holds a charge.

Some electronic devices are quite sensitive to any electron flows (current) and can thus be damaged. Hence ESD environments.

The grandest exhibit: lightning and thunderstorms. Volcanoes as well.
 
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Karadjgne

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Understanding what ESD is on the first place helps. ESD is balancing charges. So 'grounding' as such can and is often, a bad thing since it provides a pathway for electron movement greater than the surrounding area.

Never work inside a pc that's actually plugged in still for that reason. Any charge you build up in clothing, carpet etc will want to balance out vs the table or frame, which has its own charge built up. Touch the frame, balances out the charge, no further movement of electrons, no ESD. If the pc is plugged in, the frame has already dissipated its charge, making your built up charge dissipation much greater than it should be, resulting in shocks and current flow.

Best thing you can do if working on carpet in low humidity areas is link the frame to the carpet itself, either by strap, mod mat, something.

ESD tools are best used on electronics inside plastic cases or on electrically isolated circuits, when there is no reliable link to provide a balancing pathway.
 
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Crag_Hack

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@Ralston18 Good explanation thanks. Jogs my memory for physics.
@Karadjgne When working on my PC I use an anti-static mat hooked up to ground through an AC outlet frame screw and also hooked up to my constant monitor to verify the connection, sounds like I'm covered no need for such tools right?

I still don't understand the mechanisms by which the ESD tools work. And couldn't I just touch the metal part of a non-ESD tool to drain any charge built up on it when I'm connected to ground?
 

Karadjgne

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That's what I mean. Imagine you have built up 0.5A worth of static electricity walking across the carpet. That's your potential. You have the pc literally grounded through a Grounded modmat. The pc is therefore at 0.0A, with a direct path. You touch that case, everything inside has the potential to get 0.5A pulled across it on its way to ground. It's not a balance of power but a transfer of power.

Ground the modmat to the carpet you are standing on. You've built up that same 0.5A and stopped at the table. The carpet is linked to both you and the modmat. You touch the case, there's no transfer, you and the case are the same thing.

That's the purpose of ESD bracelets/straps, to balance/equalize any built up charge so that there is no sudden transfer of power.
 

Crag_Hack

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@Karadjgne My constant monitor actually has two grounds I think interestingly. The monitor hooks up to the anti-static mat via a cable and button connector on the mat which then hooks up to the AC outlet frame via one of the frame screws. I think this is how the mat is grounded. The wrist strap however I think gets its ground through the AC outlet ground prong connection. I think this because if I unplug the mat connection from the monitor it reports no mat ground but it still reports me with the wrist strap as being grounded. So I'm thinking the mat and I are at the same potential right?

Again I still don't understand the mechanisms by which the ESD tools work. And couldn't I just touch the metal part of a non-ESD tool to drain any charge built up on it when I'm connected to ground?
 

Karadjgne

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Electricity doesn't travel down cores. It travels on the surface. Thus us why wire of #8 and larger is made of multiple conductors, so the electricity has a greater surface area pathway. Esd tools might be made of metal, but for all intents and purposes the outer diameter surface might as well be made of lead, it just doesn't conduct electricity well at all. So even if the component has a massive charge, and you have none, using Esd safe tools means when that tool in your hand makes contact with the component, there's little to no discharge. Instead, any discharge will be hitting you as soon as you clip the strap to your wrist.

The necessity for Esd safe tools comes with not having a linked path, like you aren't working on a mod mat that's strapped to you.

I often have to work on live circuits, many times working on unbreakered mains side wiring, and I do so with one hand in my pocket. Had a punk kid call me lazy for doing so, he wasn't impressed, even when I held a 120v live wire unshielded. No pathway. Reason for hand in pocket is to resist temptation and remove possibility of that arm touching the panel or a grounding/grounded wire and providing a pathway, up one arm-across my heart-down the other arm.

That's the purpose of the strap, provide a link making you + component a balanced load, with no pathway. If working on components with no way to break the path, regular metal tools provide a path and you get Esd. Esd safe tools keep the path broken, so no Esd.

Meaning if you only work on stuff that's on the mod mat, and you are strapped, you don't need Esd safe tools. The strap makes anything you touch the same charge as the components on the mat, = no path, no Esd.
Again I still don't understand the mechanisms by which the ESD tools work. And couldn't I just touch the metal part of a non-ESD tool to drain any charge built up on it when I'm connected to ground?
All that does is provide a possible path. It's not the tool that's the issue, it's the tool as an extension of your arm and body which has a charge. As soon as you touch anything with the tool, you provide a path and get Esd.
 
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Karadjgne

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Mobility. The gamers nexus mod mat (large one) is pretty big, so has 2 strap points. Also could mean usable by leftys or rightys without having the strap cross over the work area. Just thoughts.

As to why 2 on the monitor itself, that's easy. Continuity. If there was only one, then romoval removes all, but being seperate, you can pull the strap off and not change the pathway to any items on the mat, or vice versa.
 

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