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Anti Static Bags vs. Static Shielding Bags

Before you buy "anti static bags" or "static shielding bags" you should know the difference. Both types of bags seek to prevent damage to electronics they carry inside them by preventing the release of electrostatic discharges (ESD) from causing harm. But how do they do this?

1. What is an “Anti Static” Bag?

Answer: An “anti static” bag is any bag made with anti static polymers so that when it rubs or touches other materials it does not create static.[1]. Essentially, an anti static bag prevents itself from holding charge. Since it is not holding charge, it cannot release charge as electrostatic discharges (ESD).

The term “anti static” refers to the upper static dissipative range- usually defined as between 1 x 1010 and less than 1 x 1012 ohms / square. Polyethylene and polyesters used in bags for static control are always in this “anti static” range.

Anti Static vs Static Shielding Bags

The pink or blue “anti static” bags are usually single layer bags that fall into this “anti static” range within the static dissipative range. These bags do not stop ESD, but they prevent the build-up of static charges on their surfaces that precedes ESD.

Anti Static Blue, Pink, and Green Bags

Whether an anti static bag is “static shielding” depends upon whether it incorporates conductive materials, like aluminum or carbon, into its design.

A static shielding bag presents a conductive barrier to ESD in addition to allowing charges to dissipate off it.

“Static Shielding” as a term usually refers to bags that use aluminum. This gives the bags a silver transparent sheen.

Diagram showing layers of a metal-in static shielding bag

2. Which type of “Anti Static” Bag should you buy?

Consider your exposure to the risks that you are trying to exclude.

Also, make sure you are placing electronics into bags while you are grounded.

To be grounded you typically would wear a wrist strap, an ESD smock, and pack electronics into the bags on an anti static mat.

Whichever bag you choose, remember that the bags protect the electronics once they are in the bag. Prior to being placed in the bag, you need to limit the exposure of the electronics to static and ESD.

Notes

Contrary to common assumptions, you do not have to use amines or amides (which can be harmful to humans) to make bags static dissipative.


 
 

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