An antistatic bubble bag is a type of bag, typically made of polyethylene, used for storing and protecting sensitive electronic components that are can be damaged by electrostatic discharge (ESD).
Read on to learn more about antistatic bubble bags, their applications and benefits.
What are Antistatic Bubble Bags?
An antistatic bubble bag provides dual benefits when packaging sensitive items: protection against the packaging itself creating a static discharge and the bubble wrap providing physical protection of the packaged product. With respect to electrical protection, antistatic bubble bags are treated with special coatings to prevent the creation and build up of a static charge on the bag’s surface. This doesn’t prevent an outside generated charge from penetrating the bag; that type of protection requires a different treatment that is explained later in this post.
What Are the Antistatic Performance Standards?
As with virtually all products that are technical in nature and widely used, there are industry-accepted standards created by well- regarded professional bodies and ESD protection is no exception. Two of the better-known sources of standards for ESD protection and performance are the EOS/ESD Association Inc. and the U.S. military’s published performance standards for two basic types of ESD protective material, combinations of antistatic, static shielding and electrostatic shielding.
The former is a professional association comprised of over 2,000 members worldwide whose charter is to expand ESD awareness through the creation of standards, educational programs, publications, certifications and symposia.
The U.S. military, arguably the largest single buyer of items containing microcircuits, semiconductors and other higher level electronics, developed their own sets of performance standards (MIL-B-81705E, Military Specification for Barrier Materials, Flexible Electrostatic Protective, Heat Sealable) that apply to packaging material used to protect sensitive electronics. One set of standards requires the material to be both electrostatic protective and electrostatic shielding and the other adds electromagnetic shielding as a third requirement.
How Do Antistatic Bags Work?
Static electricity is typically created when two materials are brought into contact and then separated – think about rubbing a balloon on a sweater. When considered in the context of plastic bags used for packaging, and getting somewhat technical, the difference in polarity of ions in the environment and the polar or nonpolar properties of the plastic in the bag can cause any type of plastic to be “charged.” If there is a sudden discharge of that energy, the charge existing on the surface of the plastic bag will redistribute via the easiest path and this includes through the bag and into its contents. If the contents of the bag are sensitive to this discharge, the electronics used to make the device can be temporarily impacted or worst case, permanently compromised.
While anti-static packaging does an excellent job at preventing static generation, protection of the contents from electrostatic discharge (ESD) requires a more complex construction containing a layer of conductive metal and a layer of plastic with a dissipative coating. This is known as the Faraday cage effect and achieves two objectives, preventing static electricity buildup while protecting the contents from static charge traveling through the packaging and into the product.
What Are the Benefits of Antistatic Bubble Bags?
Examples of the benefits include the following.
- An anti-static material protects by preventing the generation or holding of an electrostatic charge during handling. When this protection is delivered in a bag made with bubble wrap, the added benefit is the bubble cushioning protects the physical properties of the contents. Other benefits include transparency, moisture resistance, reusability, elasticity, strength and ease of cutting.
- The material used to make these bags is non-abrasive, to protect delicate surfaces. The bubble bags are available as single use with a tape seal, reclosable with a zipper or as an open-end flat bag, no seal and with or without a separate document pocket.
- The most popular sizes are available as stock bags. Anti-static shipping and protection product options include corrugated foam-lined anti-static mailers and anti-static bubble material supplied in rolls.