An “anti static” bag is a term used to refer to any bag made with anti static polymers so that when it rubs or touches other materials it does not create static.
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.
A static shielding bag, unlike a pink anti static bag, contains aluminum (which is “conductive”) to shield the contents of the bag from electrostatic discharges (ESD). Static shielding bags are therefore “anti static” and “conductive”.
What is ESD? Fundamentally, zaps or sparks caused by static are ESD. It is a discharge of static energy that emits heat, light, and sound.
ESD occurs naturally- lightning and thunder are instances of it.
However, in electronics manufacturing, ESD mostly occurs at micro scales invisible to our senses of sight and sound.
This is problematic because we cannot detect it easily. In fact, most ESD damage can only be seen with the aid of a microscope.
How significant of a problem is ESD? We know from controlled testing that simply not using static shielding materials increases device failures. For example, in 1983 Western Electric found that at one of their plants up to 75% of the unknown device failures were traceable to ESD. Since electronics become more sensitive to ESD the smaller that they are, most electronics made today are extremely sensitive to ESD.
1. Contrary to common assumptions, you do not have to use amines or amides (which can be harmful to humans) to make bags static dissipative.
2. Western Electric North Andover Works (1983). “ESD – How Often Does It happen?” G.T. Dangelmayer, EOS-5, pp.1-5, 1983.